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Mullets and Addiction

Mullets and Addiction

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.  James 1:14-15

Back in my teenage years I had a mullet. My mom wanted me to cut it for my senior pictures, predicting that I’d one day be embarrassed by it. Looking back, I’ve realized she was right. It’s no wonder that my wife wasn’t interested in me when we first met. It wasn’t a good look. It didn’t happen by accident though and I didn’t grow a mullet overnight. It took time and grooming to develop that hair. Once I decided I was going that route, it took weeks and months of accommodating its progress. When the barber wanted to cut it, I had to protest, protecting it. It was a lifestyle and a commitment. I wanted a mullet and so, I had to invest in it to see it come to all its awful fruition.

Today’s passage suggests that it’s the same with our self-destructive habits. In it, James explained that we all have toxic desires that tempt us. When we indulge in our dark impulsive appetites, we give birth to sin. Then, as we receive immediate gratification, we engage in the behavior again and again. This process of repetition grows the behavior until it matures into an addiction. Then, inevitably, that thought or behavior pattern controls our lives, making us miserable. We don’t start off at the misery though. If we did, the behavior wouldn’t survive past infancy. No, when we start down this road, we have no idea of the pain we’ll one day cause ourselves. We only see what we want right now. So, we nurture the behavior, putting time and effort into it. Once we’ve raised it to maturity, it’s too late. When it’s full grown, the monstrous addiction has a life all its own.

Fortunately, I could just cut my mullet off, which I eventually did. Unfortunately, once we build bad habits, they’re not so easily removed. Cutting off though, is an apt metaphor, one which Christ used. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away (Matthew 5:30). In following Christ, we must daily abandon our will to follow his, preventing bad habits before they start. Once we do find ourselves with an addictive behavior though, we must commit to doing whatever it takes to remove it from our lives. This amputation will almost always be terribly painful. If we desire to escape the misery though, we must be willing to do whatever it takes to rid ourselves of the monstrosities we’ve created.

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