Jack's recent post prompted me to write about something that I've been thinking about lately. He remarked that there are a few things standing in the path of becoming Shomer Shabbos. They are not major things. Some conveniences, some things that just likes to do to relax. He could certainly go without them if he had to (hey it's not like being stuck in the bathroom with no pre-cut toilet paper), but for now he's not ready to give them up.
I had a similar experience about 26 years ago. At that time, my Dad was still working Saturdays, and we weren't strictly kosher, but I was going to Services Saturday morning and many of my friends were Orthodox. Still, I couldn't give up TV. All of my favorite shows, the British Sci-Fi shows, were on Saturday afternoons, and I just couldn't live without them. A visit to my basement at the time would have proven how infatuated I was with them. Model Spaceships, Lego moonbases, etc.
I felt embarrassed when my friends came over Saturday afternoons. I had to get them out of the house before 5pm so I could turn on the tube. I'm ashamed to say there were times when my friends would stay and watch TV with me.
In 1979 we bought a videorecorder. At that time they were close to a thousand dollars, and required a computer engineering degree to program. This one had a remote control, connected with a long wire. Suddenly, everything changed. I was no longer tied to the broadcast schedule. I started taping my shows on Saturday, and going to Mincha instead of watching. It sounds pretty stupid, but this one device removed a major stumbling block from my path. After that, one thing led to another, and pretty soon I was tearing up toilet paper on Friday afternoons.
Looking back now, 26 years later, it's hard to believe that my faith hinged on a piece of hardware. I think we balance things in our minds. The importance of our faith versus the allure of our vices. Initially the vices outweigh the other. Gradually the scales may tip. Whether this means my faith grew or my desires diminished is still unclear to me. All I can say is, once the scales tipped the other way, momentum did the rest for me.