The habits we think we can take with us (Confessions Book VIII)

As Augustine draws closer to converting to Christianity, he cannot bring himself to let go of the habits that have developed in his heart. In fact, he says that every time he considers leaving his old way of life his habits tug on his shirt and say, ‘You are not going to leave us are you.’
And so it is with many people who get close to converting to Christianity. As they begin to think about the changes that such a conversion will require, they hesitate because they do not want to lose the things they have come to hold dear. The reason it was so difficult to break free was because his lusts had become habits and “when I did not resist the habit it became a necessity.”
He says that the best he can do is pray for God to change the lust, but he asks that God would take care of it at a later date. Thus, the famous line, “God give me chastity, but not yet.”
At least Augustine understands he cannot have it both ways. He doesn’t try to play the game that so many people play today. He does not try to have it both ways. He does not try to hold on to all of his habits and still attempt to follow God. He knows he cannot have it both ways.
We look at our habits today and try to convince ourselves we can take all of them with us.


Leave a Reply