Some of you may have made New Year’s resolutions and, although it is not yet the end of January, many have abandoned them already. Try again. Who says you can’t make resolutions on days other than Jan. 1? Maybe choose something different. Try basing a resolution on the beatitudes, like being a peacemaker in your family or at school or at work. Or base your choice on a commandment such as not to kill someone’s reputation by gossip. There are lots of spiritual choices that you could make such as faith – where you could decide to attend church on Sunday or pray or read the Bible each day. Or honesty even when being honest might have consequences for you. How about courage – to do what is right when your best friends are choosing otherwise. Or charity in only saying good things about another person. Of all the possibilities, I have mentioned only a few. Just pick one only, from the limitless possibilities – whichever one appeals to you! When you fail in spite of your effort, pick yourself up and try again. If you fell on the sidewalk you wouldn’t just lie there would you? If you couldn’t get up, you would at least call out for help. So, when you fail to keep your resolution, don’t just give up. And don’t be afraid to ask for heavenly help. No one will know that you are not reaching your goal all by yourself! Personally, I have one overworked guardian angel.
The repeated exercise of getting up when you fail and trying again will strengthen your spiritual muscle just like repeated physical exercise strengthens the muscles of your body. Don’t let your failures discourage you. Persevere and give it all you’ve got!
Actually, why should you be surprised when you aren’t 100 per cent successful on your first try after you’ve made up your mind to do something. Would you expect to be immediately successful the first time that you have to hold a conversation in a foreign language? Or when learning a new dance step? Learn to laugh at yourself. Be prepared to take the bull by the horns and try again. Like every new skill it takes practice. Success rarely happens on your first try. And that doesn’t only apply to New Year’s resolutions. It’s also about any good habit that you want to form – for instance, the self-discipline to set aside time for prayer each day, or the resolve to only say good things about another person. Even a baby knows instinctively after falling when learning to walk that he will keep trying until he is successful. Once successful, as he does it every day, there are fewer falls and eventually it becomes automatic. So, try and try again. It applies to learning any new skills. You can do it! Don’t give up! Ask for and accept a helping hand from the God who loves you and is proudly smiling when he sees your efforts. Celebrate your victory.
Sister Andrea Dumont is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto Roman Catholic religious order. She spent 14 years in Guatemala and since returning to Canada has lived in Grand Rapids, Easterville and Thompson. The main focus of her work in adult education, which includes training lay presiders for times when there is no priest available, organizing and instructing in the various ministries, sacramental preparation and RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).