We are now one week into the new year. How well have you done with your New Year's resolutions? So far, so good?
Or have guilty feelings crept in because some promises fell by the wayside?
If I may boast, I have stuck to each and every one of mine. That's because I did not make any New Year's resolutions; therefore, I have none to keep.
It is easy to stick to something you haven’t promised to do.
If you didn’t promise to lose the 10 pounds gained over the holidays, there's no guilt when it doesn’t happen — and only joy if it does.
If you didn't promise to exercise every morning, there's no guilt when you roll out of bed, read the paper and head to the day's events — but it's great if you take the stairs or find other ways to be more active.
Promises not made cannot be broken. But a life without goals or aims can become rather boring and stagnant. The human mind and body need something new for which to strive. Without such a thing, one, or both, will cease to work properly.
The same is true with our faith. Christians have promised to make Jesus Christ the center of our lives. Sometimes, that is just plain hard to remember — especially when difficulties and challenges rear their ugly heads. When we realize we have neglected Him, guilt can come flooding in.
But remember this: Christians are imperfect, but we are forgiven. God knows we will fail Him periodically. God knows we may break our promises to Him once in a while. It happens to the best of us.
And yet, God forgives our failings. He graciously lets us fail on our own so we learn to rely on Him more fully. He lets us learn from our mistakes.
As He does, we grow stronger in our faith.
Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? Failure brings strength. The truth is, it does.
So if you have not kept your New Year's resolutions, that’s OK. Don’t give up on them. Start over. Learn from what caused you to not keep them and don’t repeat the pattern.
If you've broken a promise you made to God, ask God’s forgiveness, learn what caused you to break those promises, pick up the pieces, start again and do your best to not repeat the harmful pattern.
God understands, and continues to walk beside you every step of the way.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview’s pastor.