The importance of bad habits

Dear Dissonance,

Your latest missive jarred me from my funk of recent weeks. Thank you. I was so pleased to learn of your Patient and her husband’s massive blow out at the airport and how it almost led to one of them not going on their trip.

And all because of such a simple thing: gas – or lack thereof. If they had been organized the night before and filled up the car, none of swearing and name calling and tears would have had a minute chance of domination. But they weren’t. And instead of being able to just drive to the airport at 4:30 AM, coffee in hand on quiet, pre-rush hour roads, they started their 30 minute journey with the empty fuel light on, immediately triggering an anxiety attack in your Patient.

In this instance her husband always drives on empty it didn’t bother him. And in his reasoning, it shouldn’t bother anyone since logically he knew they had enough to get there. But she can’t go anywhere with less than a quarter tank without first filling up.

She tried to take deep breaths and sip her coffee, but with each closed gas station they passed it got harder to control herself, especially after they exited the highway and drove 5 miles without finding anything even though the exit sign listed gas. When they finally found one they were late for their flight and she felt as if he enjoyed being cruel to her because he knew how she was with gas and didn’t fill up the car the night before. And then the sobbing started and he blew up at her. This is totally text book.

Isn’t it amazing how little things can make such a big difference in how things turn out? Tempters often forget this in their quest to become famous and focus on disrupting large life events. When a family member gets drunk and argues with relatives at a wedding it’s fun for us, for example, but it does not give us a lasting edge against the Enemy. That is only possible if tempters spend the majority of their time helping their patients form bad habits. If we do not set up structural advantages our chances of success diminish greatly as each event becomes a 50-50 tug of war with the Enemy. That drunk relative noted above, for example, might just as easily have taken the opportunity of the wedding to forgive an old hurt instead of reliving it if the Enemy got their first. We do not want to allow Him any leeway to maneuver.

Both your Patient and her husband routinely do not plan ahead, which doesn’t always lead to triumph on our part but gives us a distinct advantage when things don’t go as expected for them. It is your job to make sure that they quickly forget about the incident and keep doing what they have always have done as if it is secondary to who they are and to their relationship. It should in no way prompt them to reflect on whether they should change their behavior. Look at what happened with a little thing like low fuel – just think of the arguments that will arise from forgetting a child’s blanket or a passport or not depositing a check on time to avoid a late mortgage payment. You don’t want to forgo the pleasure from the hurt arguments over those items will generate.

Nor do you want to allow the Enemy to gain a permanent structural advantage over your work. Priorities are an ugly shadow of faith itself in that they help patients see the world more clearly, like a flashlight on a dark path. Without them, it is much easier to throw lives into chaos.

Your affectionate aunt,

Pandemonium

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