My family thinks I’m predictable. Most of the time they are right.
When you live with people for a while, their mannerisms and habits become commonplace. Some are good and some, well, not so much.
Sometimes friends and family will attack you with your predictability. They’ll say things like, “you always…”, or “I can always tell when you are about to…”
There are times when these statements are meant to be a friendly jab. But sometimes they are meant to hold us back and remind us that we aren’t growing or that we’re stuck in a rut.
Since I have been thinking of my habits lately and praying for God for the strength to change my bad ones, I have come to realize that I am indeed stuck in a rut.
But I am not the only one.
The other day, my family decided to tease me about how I always react a certain way. It made me angry because I felt that I was being accused of the type of predictability that is a result of selfishness. So my reaction was to act in the opposite way. It wasn’t difficult. But that isn’t quite my point.
Then the next day, someone acted in a way that they always do. It offended me and hurt my feelings. My reaction was to get angry and frustrated. But that isn’t quite my point either.
Here is my point.
My family’s assumption of my predictability is a rut that they are in. They expect me to act a certain way, and they are conditioned to respond to my behavior.
My response to the behavior by doing the opposite to “show them what’s what” is predictable and is the rut that I am in.
The person who acted in a way that is typical of their behavior is accustomed to behaving that way because of the payoff they get to their ego. They don’t care who they hurt in the process. That is the rut they are stuck in.
My response to that behavior of being hurt and offended is also predictable and is part of the rut that I am in.
I promise I’m getting to it.
We all get stuck. But some of us don’t know it. We keep acting the same way over and over again and then wonder why we still feel stuck. We get angry at the same people for the same things that they have been doing for as long as we can remember. But we don’t consider that they may be stuck in a rut and not realize it.
The way to get out of a rut is to first admit that we are in one in the first place. Then we can work on crawling our way out. And yes, it will be a crawl. Because ruts can be very deep and very slippery, and without the Lord’s help some of us never get out.
But the next part of our journey out of the rut is mercy. Because some of our dearest friends and family don’t realize that they are also in a rut and that they need help to get out of it before it becomes a trap and damages relationships that are meaningful to them. So when a person acts particularly predictable, say a prayer. For yourself, and for them. And once you are out of your rut, give them a hand (and a prayer) to help them out of theirs.
And once we are out, we might find that the scenery we were missing is quite beautiful.