By Sharon Wilson
Today is dubbed as “Quitter’s Day” and marks the day that most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions, including me.
At about this time of year, I start cheating on my New Year’s resolutions. I start out strong but as time goes by I get lazy and make up excuses on whatever it is that I had promised myself I would do. It doesn’t matter if it is an exercise resolution or a dieting resolution — my lackluster follow-through seems to be across the board.
If I have such little reserve in keeping my resolutions in areas of diet and exercise – I wonder how I would respond if being tested on my faith, as I am not much better in keeping my spiritual resolutions either?
Begin with the End in Mind
In today’s readings, we hear of John the Baptist, Sosthenes, and the Apostle Paul, each of these biblical figures who suffered for the faith. I wonder how their resolve, and that of all the saints to persevere when faced with great adversity, sustained them when I can’t seem to keep my resolve when faced with even small adversities and temptations.
Stephen Covey, a productivity guru in the business world, cited in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.” In my spiritual life, as well as my physical fitness life, it seems I am not keeping my eyes on the end prize.
“Begin with the end in mind,” for us as Christians, means to keep our eye on heaven—our ultimate goal! I am often very short-sighted when it comes to my spiritual life. I sometimes become discouraged over very earthly things. It may be that something I hoped for didn’t happen; it could be a relationship that has ended or a friend who snubbed me or any variety of temptations. Sometimes the laziness that keeps me from prayer or exercise is at that moment, lazy just feels good.
These things are short-sighted and do not help me keep my focus on the end results. If my thoughts were truly on getting to heaven, these earthly roadblocks would be easier to overcome. I know I need help on my journey, though, and here are a few things I have learned along the way.
- Look for partners in your journey. If I have a workout partner at the gym waiting for me at 5 a.m. I will get myself out of bed because I know they are waiting for me. Accountability, in some form, keeps you honest, and support from others bolsters your desire. Paul had Sosthenes and the apostles had each other. Being part of a WINE group and connecting in person or virtually helps me stay the course. I have set myself a goal of losing 60 pounds before I turn 60 years old. As part of my accountability to health and prayer, I have started a blog called 60 X 60. It keeps me accountable. Check it out and keep me accountable!
- Keep it real. If I resolve to run a marathon in six weeks and I haven’t even done a 5K in ten years – I am setting myself up to fail. This goes for our spiritual journey too. I probably am not called to leave my home and do mission work across the world, but I can do small acts of kindness for the people around me. Start with five minutes of prayer daily before trying two hours of meditation. A realistic goal starting with those around you will make it more likely for you to keep your resolutions.
- Find a mentor. I remember when I first started seeing a spiritual director, and some of my friends thought I was odd. My friends were golfers, so I asked them if they ever took lessons from a golf professional. They had and remarked that it helped them improve their game. A spiritual director can do the same for your prayer game. Qualified spiritual directors are hard to find. If you can’t find one, ask your priest if he knows someone to refer you to or start seeing a priest as a regular confessor. Perhaps, connect with an older, wiser woman in your parish that can act as a spiritual mother to you. Another source of inspiration is to read about the saints. They can act as our mentors too. My friend and fellow WINE enthusiast Maria Morera Johnson’s book My Badass Book of Saints is an excellent choice for mentors on our journey.
- If you fail, keep trying. I love that our church is called the church of second chances. God doesn’t expect perfection but He does expect us to try again. If we mess up too badly, we also have this great gift of confession. The same goes for my fitness resolution. If I miss a week on the treadmill – I just have to get back on.
So if today is a Quitters Day for you – reassess and start again. Any day can be a new beginning, and Chinese New Year is right around the corner!
About the author:
Sharon Wilson – Wife, Mother, Writer, Catholic Speaker, and a WINE Specialist. Sharon has a degree in education and has worked as a freelance writer, Respect Life Coordinator, a teacher, in advertising, radio, buyer and in youth advocacy – She even rode an elephant in the circus once! Sharon speaks, writes and shares about God’s healing and about the great gift of being Catholic at SharonAgnesWilson.com