So, how are all those New Year’s resolutions going? Anyone struggling to keep up? Just me?
I don’t like the feeling of being behind (which doesn’t go well with my desire to procrastinate) but given a deadline, I’m there. I may be up the whole night before, but I will get the job done, and get it done on time. But New Year’s resolutions, goals that last a whole 365 days, don’t have a close deadline. I can push those aside in the interest of what is due today and get back to them…some other time.
That other time is usually at the end of the year, with the stress and commotion of holidays and end of year work deadlines and school Christmas concerts and cookies to bake and presents to wrap. All of a sudden I find myself trying to read seven unread books of the measly twelve I had resolved to read. And realizing I never formed the prayer habits I had resolved to establish resulting in feeling so very disappointed in myself. I can see the good that was accomplished within the year—successes at work, kids improving in school and sports, a clean(ish) house—but still I fell short of what I wanted to do.
When choosing a resolution, I try to go beyond the usual physical or intellectual growth resolutions and focus on at least one spiritual resolution. I ask the Lord in prayer to show me where I can improve and to help me do so. Last year, one of my major resolutions was to complete Ascension’s Bible in a Year AND Catechism in a Year podcasts. I had listened through the Bible in a Year previously, but last year I was committed to sitting down and actually reading both the Bible and the Catechism. This lasted nine days. Within nine days, I was involved in two separate car crashes that totalled both our vehicles, and my schedule, and resolve, were thrown off course. By the grace of God no one was seriously hurt, but now my attention was set on how to get my kids to school and how to afford a new car—make that two— when prices were so high. I never made my way back to those podcasts.
So 2024 rolls around, and I resolve again, to do both The Bible in the Year and The Catechism in a Year podcasts. We have a total of 21 days in 2024 at the time of this writing and I’m happy to say, I’m on day 21! But…I may have listened to three sessions today alone, and four yesterday to catch up. Why do I bother telling you all this? Because it can be hard. It can be hard to stick to what we know we want when challenges come our way. Because it can be hard to prioritize prayer time and spiritual growth when you have tangible demands in front of you. And it can be disheartening, when you have pledged in prayer to do something and you fall short. But I want to offer some encouragement.
Twenty-one days into the Bible in the Year, I am still in Genesis, walking with the patriarchs of the church. One theme is recurrent in this section—perseverance. Abraham persevered through unknown lands, Isaac persevered through his son’s deception, Jacob persevered through his own shortcomings, the deception of his father in law and ultimately through reconciling with his brother. And through it all, God persevered through all the human brokenness. He still gave Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars and gave Jacob a kingdom. God is still there.
So as you face your resolutions, whether you are succeeding, struggling, or flat out behind, keep at it. Catch up if needed, and ask the Lord to help you. I’ll be honest, it may not end up exactly how you pictured it, but as Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “God doesn’t require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.”