I had secret habit for a little while when I was younger.
I knew it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it was something that seemed different and so I was worried about what would happened if I shared it with folks.
I liked to eat french fries and mayonnaise.
I have no idea how this started, but I knew that I loved doing it just slightly more than I was embarrassed about it. (Isn’t that how all bad habits are?) I mean, no one wants to be the kid eating weird stuff at the lunch table. That’s a one-way ticket to eating alone, or worse, with the teacher who notices you’re alone and offers company. You don’t survive third grade like that.
Imagine my relief when one day I learned a friend of mine loved the same fatty-food-dipped-in-liquid-fat combo.
My burden had been lifted. Finally, someone understood and accepted me and my struggle.
At first glance, this was a good thing. Having someone with a similar struggle is typically good like that.
The problem, however, was that I soon became very comfortable with this nutritionally flawed habit. Because I knew someone else was headed down the same path, soon it became almost a celebration to pile on the Hellmann’s in full disregard of my arteries and growing waist line.
Now just to be clear, this is by far not the worst thing in the world or the worst thing I’ve done. In fact, I’m pretty confident it’s not even a sin.
But it was a bad decision made easier because I got so comfortable with it.
I think that happens to us a lot in life, an often with more serious issues than an abundance of mayo in our diets.
We all sin, and the Bible tells us that we’re never alone in that sin. There’s always someone who has, and likely still does, struggle in the same way as us. At their root, they really are not new sins.
It’s comforting to connect with people with similar struggles to our own. It often provides a sense of acceptance that someone who has never struggled with the sin can’t provide, as well as a sense of comradery in fighting a common enemy.
But sometimes it can also be dangerous.
Once we feel accepted with our habits and that overwhelming sense of shame disappears, it’s tempting to ignore the damage the bad habits are causing and get real comfortable with them.
It’s tempting to begin to celebrate the sin as simply a part of who we are.
For me, once it becomes a celebration, once I get that comfortable, it rarely ends well because while being accepted with my bad decisions feels great, it doesn’t prevent the fallout from them. Just ask my fifth-grade sweatpants. They were struggling.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t bond with others over our common struggles in life, we should.
I’m just saying we should be careful to make sure that bond isn’t making us comfortable to the point where acceptance becomes celebration.
As for french fries and mayonnaise, that decision is on you.