During the Prussian War a French blacksmith was taken prisoner by the German army. “Do not worry about me,” he secretly reported to his family. “When I am bound I shall carefully study the chains that fetter me until I discover the weakest link. Then, when no one is looking, I shall break the chain and go free.”
According to plan, when the opportunity came, he studied the links, but soon sank back in hopeless despair. He saw that he was bound with chains that he himself had made. His captors had taken them from his shop. There were no weak links.
The blacksmith is to be commended for making strong chains. However, bad habits can be like very strong chains that bind us. The habits may start weakly and almost innocently but eventually become unintentionally just as hard to break as real chains. By contrast, good habits have to be cultivated in a disciplined and intentional way to become strong. That makes life challenging.