I have this habit of bouncing my leg up and down when I’m anxious. Give it a try. Sit down and position your knee right over your foot. Get your foot up on your toes and then just let it bounce away. Can you do it? I think I inherited this talent from my dad. When we are together and we both get to bouncing we can shake an entire room without realizing it. I bounce when I know there are other things I need to be doing, when I’m nervous, when I’m bored, when I’m tense and when I’m excited. I guess bouncing is just my default mechanism for handling stress whether positive or negative. I guess you could say I’m addicted to bouncing. Sometimes, when I feel my eyeballs shaking I realize I am bouncing, so I sit up straight and put my feet flat on the floor. That usually works, but more often than not, both feet start bouncing. I know this drives those around me crazy because I have felt their hand settle on my knee more than once to gently remind me I am shaking their world.
Being addicted to leg bouncing is annoying, but no where near as destructive as other addictions. Being addicted to drugs, alcohol, smoking, junk food, lying, gossip or a hundred other things can have severe consequences. But all addictions seem to be the same. They are the default mechanism for handling stress. After working with inmates at our city jail, I have learned we are all addicted to something – things harder than leg bouncing.
I believe all addictions begin with the habit of negative thinking. First, we think negatively about ourselves, our circumstances or those around us. Then, we dwell on those negative thoughts until we make them worse than they really are. We keep them all locked up inside until they literally change the chemistry of our bodies. Finally, we can’t deal with them anymore, so we look for something to funnel away the tension and an addiction is born. While creating an addiction may seem easy, ending one is not.
It’s hard to admit we have issues, but once we realize it we can begin to sit up straight, put both feet on the floor and pay attention to our thought processes. 2 Corinthians 10: 5 says, “we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” The only way to do that is by staying in God’s word and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones as soon as they enter. It’s not easy. Even the apostle Paul had trouble with this. In Romans 7 he says, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” My daddy has a saying, “if it was easy everybody would be doing it.” Well, everybody these days is not looking for relief in the love of God and that’s a shame. Maybe it’s time we all realize we should be in rehab on the group plan. Isn’t that what the church is all about? I need brothers and sisters who love me enough to show me God’s love and grace, not just tell me about it. I need someone to lovingly put their hand on my knee and tell me when I am shaking their world. Then, at other times, I need to be that hand for someone else. I need to encourage, forgive and love those struggling with things I find easy. I need to be addicted to God and help others become addicted to Him too.
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2