Pick Yourself Up

I'm not that good at keeping New Year's resolutions.  In fact, I have a pretty lousy track record. 

I always have good intentions about the things I want to do better... the things I need to change but typically by February I  find myself living into the truth of that old aphorism:  "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."   

Even though I am not that great at keeping resolutions, I know that when I have kept them---even the small ones--they have made a big difference. 

For example, one year I resolved to read a book a week for the entire year, and I  managed to pull it off, and then some.  Ever since that time, I typically read no fewer than twenty-five to thirty books a year.  It was a small change that made a big difference.  

And then a few years ago I resolved to start getting up very early in the morning every day to read, study, pray, and journal.  It's a habit that stuck, and even though I am most definitely not a morning person, I now find myself able to wake up by 5:30AM  every morning to read, pray and write.  

These devotions are a product of that small change that has made a big difference. 

A wise person I once knew used to add an addendum to my resolutions.  I  would say, "I  am going to do better... I am going to be better... I  am going to do that differently..." and then he would add to my declaration, "Unless you don't." 

When he first did it, I felt uncomfortable and a little peeved.  But over time I began to realize what he was doing.  He was teaching me to be easy with myself---to give myself grace.  He knew that I would likely fall flat on my face with most of the things I was resolving to do and to be... at least at first.  

The reason why most of us can't keep our resolutions is that we don't give ourselves the grace to fail at them.   In fact, when we inevitably stumble and fall on the way toward our goals, most of us tend to give up.  We chalk it up as one more piece of evidence that we are imperfect, and perhaps incapable of improvement. 

I read a wonderful quote from Richard Rohr recently, and it resonated with me anew as I thought about all of this today: 

Perfection is not the elimination of imperfection, as we think.  Divine perfection is, in fact, the ability to recognize, forgive, and include imperfection—just as God does with all of us. 

I love that so much.  Divine perfection is the "ability to recognize, forgive, and include imperfection..." 

Let that sink in for a moment as you launch into this new year with all of the expectations and hope that you have for it, and for yourself.  Don't be afraid to make a new resolution. Don't hesitate to try do something new, fresh and empowering.  

Give yourself grace in the midst of it and accept your imperfections... even the ones that cause you to fall flat on your face on your way toward your goal.  Know that you should see all of yourself as loved and cherished and completely capable of becoming your best and truest self with God's help. 

And even when you find yourself lying face down on the road to a better you, know that you can pick yourself up and keep going because there's far too much God-given grace within you and upon you for you to stay down.  

May this be true for you today and every day this new year.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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