How many of you make New Year's resolutions? Go ahead. Raise your hand. Now, how many of you keep every one of them? Do you still have your hand up? I sure don't.
Every Dec. 31, I labor diligently over my list. I edit. I delete. I add. And by the stroke of midnight, I have an inventory of improvements that will undoubtedly make me a new and improved creature. The Becky Lyn 5.6.
With breathless anticipation, I leap out of bed on Jan. 1 and revisit my resolutions. I am a rock. I am solid. I will do this. I am a better person already. Except I'm already tired from being up ringing in the New Year, so clean-up and exercise can wait until tomorrow. And it's a shame to put away that bag of chips with so few in them. I might as well drink the rest of that stale soda before I recycle the can. And that R-rated movie that I really wanted to see is on tonight. I know I shouldn't, but it just looks so darned funny.
By 4 on Jan. 1, I am feeling like a louse. I'm worthless. I can't stick with anything.
The same thing happens when I go to church. I listen to the messages and vow to be a better mother, grandmother, Christian, friend, neighbor, teacher and housekeeper. Then I get home, take that sacred Sunday afternoon snooze and lose steam.
It's the same with our sins and transgressions. We vow. We promise. We try. But sometimes we fall short.
None of these are reasons to give up. They are simply reasons to repent and begin again. And, that's really OK.
We all fall short. Sometimes they are small slips. Other times, they are overwhelming sins. Regardless, they are all fixable. There's a simple pattern to follow to repent and get back on track.
The worst thing we can do is give up and get discouraged. Or feel like we are the only ones who weaken and have failures.
Here are a few simple steps to get back on track:
Just admit to yourself that you've messed up. That's a biggie. It is quite often the hardest part. Say it with me, "I screwed up." I remember having to do that on a job once. I worked for a vice president, and I neglected inviting a doctor to an important meeting. He was an integral part of it, so it pretty much wasted the time of every other attendee, and I had to start from scratch. But at the point where I realized it, I went right into her office and told her precisely, "Vanessa, I screwed up. I'm sorry. I'll try to make it right, but it is my fault." I'd like to say she gave me a pat on the shoulder like my mom used to and thanked me for being forthcoming, but that was definitely not the case. I'm still glad I did it, despite the "you're a total moron" look she gave me.
Look in the mirror and tell yourself you're sorry you let yourself down. Or something like that. Whatever feels most uncomfortable so you don't do it, again. You hope.
Apologize to God
As you are a child of God; when you let yourself down you are also letting down a child of God, and for that you need to apologize to him.
Make it right
It might just be you are the only one affected by your shortcoming, but it might very well involve others. If it does, you need to make amends. If you've yelled at your kids after promising yourself you never would again, or if you ate the smaller of the two cheesecakes you baked after promising it to your daughter and her husband, make it right. (These are purely random and hypothetical situations, and I have never done anything like them. Just pulled them out of thin air.) Not only apologize, but do something nice for the children and make another cheesecake, for heaven's sake.
Forgive yourself and let it go
This is the one you want to hang on to. You want to carry it around like an old steamer trunk, showing it off to everyone. "Look how stupid I am. I can't get anything right." This is not what you should be doing. Once you have confessed, apologized and made amendments, you have to let it go. Go ahead. Let go of the old leather handle. Now wash your hands. Forget it. Seriously. Let it go.
Make the promise again
Tell yourself you can do it. Each morning, get on your knees and vow to be stronger than your sin. Then be strong. At night, kneel once more and make a full accounting to God.
Go forth and conquer
That is all. Do better.
Keep track of your success
Make a chart with little gold stars. Record it in your journal. Talk to your spouse, children and friends about it. Whatever works. Because the more you record your success, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Oh, and those of you who have done a stellar job of keeping your resolutions and adhering to the preaching you've heard, congratulations. You can put your hands down now.