by Leslie De Morais
Consistent – [kuh n-sis-tuh nt] (adj) 1. agreeing or accordant; compatible; not self-contradictory: His views and actions are consistent. 2. constantly adhering to the same principles, course, form, etc.: a consistent opponent. 3. holding firmly together; cohering.1
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. – Proverbs 31:14 (NIV)
For millenniums, cities have depended upon merchant ships to set sail for distant lands with the promise of returning heavily laden with all sorts of valued commodities and enticing treasures. Local economies counted on the regularity of delivered goods not readily available from surrounding areas, such as: spices, textiles, natural resources like wood, or precious minerals like gold. The arrival of the merchant ship on the horizon signaled the prospect of abundance, prosperity, and comfortable times ahead.
One of the keys to success for any company in the merchant shipping industry was consistency. Without reliability of delivery, commerce would grind to a halt. Fleet owners were required to plan for and handle unpredictable weather, unreliable crewmen, and unrelenting piracy in order to meet the demands of customers without skipping a beat. Only the most consistent companies gained the trust of the store owners and the public, thus solidifying future orders.
Your Consistency Affects Your Family
If someone compared you to “the merchant ships, bringing food from afar,” the comment might not communicate the great compliment it truly is. Really, who wants to be likened to a commercial vessel? Yet the praise is high, indeed!
So much of what is contained in the job description of a wife and mother falls under the category of “unseen and thankless tasks.” No one else notices unless it isn’t done. Rarely will you hear, “Wow, the house looks and smells great!”, after you’ve swept, mopped, vacuumed and dusted the entire house. Yet, skip a day or two of tidying up and every member of your household comments about the mess! Like the merchant ships, only the owner recognizes the hard work behind consistently meeting needs, on time, every time.
When my children were young, toddlers even, I made the decision to have “sit down” dinners every night. As they grew into preteens and teens, we had those dinners together as much as their sports and extracurricular schedules permitted. Why the fuss? Research shows that one of the best ways to connect with your family is through sitting down at the table and enjoying a meal together. It’s a way to communicate with your children. It’s a great way for them to see their parents interacting positively. It’s a perfect way to have group discussion, teach a principle or establish new family codes of conduct or expectations. Most of all, it’s a way to check the negative influence the world is having on your family and counter balance that with Biblical precepts and encouragement.
Early on, my husband and I agreed upon the importance the dinner table would serve in our lives. As a physical education teacher, he fully understood the intrinsic value of consistent training. Around our daily meals together, we would plant seeds of God’s word in our children’s hearts. Daily, they could count on sitting down at the table, praying with us, practicing good table manners, participating in open conversation, remaining at the table until everyone finished and helping to clear the table after the meal was over. What I just described didn’t happen overnight. Every new phase in their development required revisiting expectations and explaining the reasons behind our need to spend time together as a family. Our consistency won out. My husband and I braved the preteen years and somehow survived the teen years. For our now adult children, gathering around the dinner table is what normal looks like to them.
As “the merchant ship” of the family, I took it upon myself to set a proper table, to vary the menu, and to make meals on time and worth coming home to. That takes commitment, especially if you work outside the home. My husband began sharing the responsibility and many nights we cooked together. That was an added and unexpected bonus, time together in the kitchen recapping our day while we chopped and diced. Now that our children are grown, the toil behind that major decision fades and the memories of us around the table remain.
Were there exceptions to the rule? Yes, of course. But that is what it should be. Not eating together is the exception and not the other way around. Ask yourself: Have you fallen into lazy or less effective routines with your family? Has the dinning table become a catch all for mail, assorted junk or dust from inactivity? Do your kids ask if it’s a special occasion should you decide to set the table because they are so unaccustomed to looking at family faces while eating instead of the television or their iPads?
Meal time is so much more than simply satisfying the biological need for sustenance. It represents an opportunity to commune, connect, communicate. It’s not by chance that one of the most well-known scenes of the New Testament took place around a table. In the three years that Jesus spent with his disciples I imagine he broke bread with them daily. Every time they ate together, he had another chance to get to know them and to be known by them. They saw his example, heard his words and felt his presence. The Last Supper was a familiar “family” event for the disciples although they would only come to understand its deep significance much later. And how they would treasure those moments after Jesus had left them to be reunited with the Father!
Your Consistency Affects Your Righteousness
King David of the Old Testament, a forefather in Jesus’ earthly lineage, was described as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:13-14), meaning God could trust that David desired what He desired. What an incredible attribute! What an amazing description for someone who loved God and wanted to serve Him! Yet, David’s life was characterized by spiritual highs and lows. The most infamous low was his adulterous relationship with a married woman, which resulted in the birth of an illegitimate son and the consequent assassination of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah.
The prophet Nathan was given the terrifying task of confronting King David and calling him to repentance. Fortunately, for Nathan, after he recounted a convicting parable, realization set in and David acknowledged his sin before God and the prophet, but not without consequence. His infant son soon fell ill and in a week’s time died. It was then that the full extent of David’s sin was felt to his core and Psalm 51 was inspired.
10Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – Psalm 51:10-12
The word steadfast, meaning fixed in a direction; firm in purpose; unwavering or resolute, is what you’ll find in the Bible more readily than the word consistent. It also means faithful or reliable. It stands out in David’s psalm as he is racked with guilt and grief after coming to terms with his iniquity and the loss of his son. He asks God to renew a steadfast spirit within him. Perhaps David recognized that his failure to obey the Lord’s commands stemmed from his inconsistency.
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” – 2 Samuel 11:1-3
David let his guard down. Instead of doing what a king should have been doing, he sent another in his place and remained back at the palace, idle. Maybe the old adage, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” sprang from this very situation.
Consistently doing what we know is right can certainly help shield us from temptation.
Your Consistency Affects Your Maturity
“I pray to be like the ocean, with soft currents, maybe waves at times. More and more, I want the consistency rather than the highs and lows.” 2 – Drew Barrymore, Actress/Producer/Director
Typically, I research the lives of the people I quote in my blog. Why? To better understand the circumstances and deeper meanings to their quotes. I need to comprehend the who, what, why and how behind the words of these famous people who someone thought worthy of quoting. Discovering significant events of Drew Barrymore’s life led me to a greater appreciation of the above quote. Here’s a brief description of some of her highs and lows:
Drew Blythe Barrymore (born February 22, 1975) is an American actress, author, director, model and producer. She is a member of the Barrymore family of American stage and film actors, and a granddaughter of actor John Barrymore. Beginning as a child actress on television, she soon transitioned to feature films, including her biggest box office success, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).
Following a highly publicized, turbulent childhood marked by drug and alcohol abuse with two stints in rehab, she released her autobiography, Little Girl Lost (1991). Barrymore appeared in a string of successful films and in 1995, she and Nancy Juvonen formed a joint production company, Flower Films. Her godmothers are Lee Strasberg’s widow Anna Strasberg, a relationship with whom Barry has described as “would become so important to me as a kid because she was so kind and nurturing”, and actress Sophia Loren, and her godfather is director Steven Spielberg.
In the wake of her sudden stardom, Barrymore endured a notoriously troubled childhood. She was already a regular at the racy Studio 54 as a young girl, smoking cigarettes at age of nine, drinking alcohol at age eleven, smoking marijuana at age twelve and snorting cocaine at age thirteen. Her nightlife and constant partying became a popular subject with the media. She was in rehab at age of fourteen, and spent eighteen months in an institution for the mentally ill. A suicide attempt, also at 14, put her back in rehab, followed by a three-month stay with singer David Crosby (of rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fame) and his wife. The stay was precipitated, Crosby said, because she “needed to be around some people that were committed to sobriety.” Barrymore later described this period of her life in her autobiography, Little Girl Lost. After a successful juvenile court petition for emancipation, she moved into her own apartment at the age of fifteen.
Barrymore went on to star in numerous films, some of which were box office hits and some with less than glowing critical acclaim. She has won a Former Child Star “Lifetime Achievement” Award from the Young Artist Foundation, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She won a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe Award for her performance in Grey Gardens (2009). Barrymore’s films compile a worldwide box office gross that stands at over US$2.3 billion.3
All actors dream of the mountain top experiences (the highs) of their profession; fame, fortune, and accolades. I imagine that no one desires the low points; being passed over, starring in flops, and addictions. So, is it possible to have the highs without the lows? Can there be mountains without valleys? I don’t think so. To some, Ms. Barrymore’s words may sound safe and unambitious. However, after a closer examination of her life, I sense experience, maturity and levelheadedness in her quote.
While reaching for the “highs,” perhaps some of the “lows” in one’s life cannot be avoided. However, leading a consistent life may even out the waves, making it easier to deal with the ups and downs of the voyage.
Consistency Affects the Basics of Christianity
There’s no way around it, consistency is one of those characteristics that permeates all others. It’s like excellence or passion. It ends up being applied to every aspect of a person’s life and becomes their hallmark. Whether it be in punctuality, a pleasant demeanor, a strong work ethic, an amazing prayer life or a deep relationship with God, etc., consistency is a cornerstone of those who continually see progress in their lives.
“Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties.” 4 – Charlotte Bronte, Writer
As with New Year resolutions, lofty ambitions or awe-inspiring declarations may wear off as time goes by. If you are sensing that your consistency needs an overhaul, my suggestion is that you start off slow and steady in any resolution or decision you make. Small amounts of progress are far better than none at all. Increasing measures of effort and dedication over time are healthier than a burst of energy that quickly dies out.
“The beast, the religion of any restaurant is consistency. The food has to be the same every single time. It has to be as good (as the last time). That requires eternal vigilance.” 5 – Anthony Bourdain, Chef/Author/TV Host
The best restaurants can boast longevity because of consistency. Their customers know they will not be disappointed, so they return, again and again.
As a young Christian, I was prone to being led by my emotions rather than being guided by the Word of God. You can easily imagine the problems that could spring up because of that! What would happen if I didn’t feel like reading my Bible, sharing my faith, meeting with other disciples or keeping my commitment with God?
A friend helped me see and understand that feelings, emotions and even circumstances change constantly. God’s Word remains the same. Steadfast. There were many situations where I needed to simply decide to be consistent with God, and hopefully the feelings would follow. Most times, the right feelings did follow the obedient actions. Now, thirty-four years later, that good advice still helps me to be consistent.
In 2018, my personal theme for the year is “Transforming weaknesses into strengths.” The sky’s the limit! Everything in my life and character are open for improvement. Here’s the plan:
- Decide about what I most want/need to change
- Pray, meditate, seek input
- Take practical steps and make achievable goals
- Reflect, reboot, rejoice in the process and the progress, large or small
I hope you’ll join me! Leave comments and let me know what you plan to grow in.
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