The problem of noncompliance

Faith & Inspiration

A doctor who once prescribed lots of supplements for all the things he found wrong with me said I actually needed more but he was reticent to pile them on. “Why?” I asked. “Because then you run into the problem of noncompliance,” he replied.

I understood. There is a tipping point—some mysterious psychological threshold—at which a person will suddenly balk at the regimen, however salubrious. When this happens, he will not only tend to not comply with the added burden but will end up chucking the whole business and no longer perform even the modest demands originally made.

Add to this the correlative factor of the amount of time the doctor says to take the pills, and you have even a greater tendency toward delinquency. The longer you are required to take the meds, the more casual you may tend to become.

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A case in point: My husband was told he must absolutely, positively stay away from sugar if he wants to be well. He and I were at first full of zeal and hope regarding this advice and started off like gangbusters. For a good two weeks we were as incorruptible as Nazarites.

But the other day we met someone for coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts and I noticed that my husband ordered a strawberry-frosted doughnut with his coffee. Later at home I asked him about it and he said the diet had momentarily slipped his mind.

Here is my larger application to the spiritual world. When we first hear the gospel—or especially when we are reminded of it after some catastrophe in our lives—it seems very real to us and we are determined to obedient to it. But somehow or other, I don’t know how, after a while when things settle down into normalcy, the gospel doesn’t seem as real anymore. The world gets realer, and the gospel gets less real.

Jesus, of course, spoke of this in his parable about the sower, when he described the seed that sprouts like gangbusters at first, but ends up getting choked by “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches …” (Mark 4:19).

Let us remember this dynamic in order to be on the lookout for it in our lives.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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