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COMING OF AGE | A resolution to make God a priority

Maria-Pia Negro Chin
Another year is almost here; have you thought about your New Year’s resolutions?

Your resolutions might be to do better at school, volunteer, be healthier/more active, recycle more, learn something new, be a role model or cut back on your social media use. Or perhaps you are determined to take a stand when needed, like when someone is bullying another person or when the group is making inappropriate jokes that demean others.

Maybe you had a lot of ideas and enthusiasm earlier in 2018, but slipped in your resolutions, and became discouraged or cast them aside altogether.

“People who rely on willpower mostly fail,” Anne Swinbourne, a behavioral psychologist at James Cook University, Australia, told the BBC last year. “To keep a resolution, you have to be boringly meticulous — you have to plan.”

Jotting down what you want to accomplish is just the beginning. Keeping your resolutions requires planning, acting and praying often. Incorporating healthy behavior into everyday life, avoiding triggers that cause regression and asking for support when needed take work, but it is worth it.

In a YouTube video, Father Mike Schmitz encouarged asking yourself what kind of person God wants you to be. Are your resolutions going to help you behave in a way that God’s light can shine in our world through you?

Once you prayerfully decide what to work on this year, take action. Put in the work, even if you don’t see the rewards right away. Learn from mistakes, reassess and persevere in your efforts.

Besides making your new 2019 goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely, it’s harder to waver if your goals are rooted in being the person God knows you can be. When keeping a resolution becomes a challenge, remember why this commitment was made in the first place.

Writer Elizabeth Manneh hit the nail on the head when she admitted that — like many of us — she was not successful in her resolutions because relying only in our human efforts to “transform (our) lives by establishing new habits” isn’t enough.

Manneh focused on thinking about her motivations to be a better person. She reflected on 12 questions, looking at the past year and the year ahead.

I like Manneh’s method. The desire to change isn’t rooted in a sense of inadequacy, but the motivation to be better. Questions included, “In which areas of your spiritual life have you grown most?” and “Where have you seen examples of answered prayer?” and “What can you do to become more aware of God’s presence?”

Her approach allows you to have an honest look at your spiritual life and how that affects your everyday life, which leads you to set realistic and worthwhile resolutions.

Being faithful is “to keep your promises — choosing the Lord — consistently” and being repentant if you fall, said Father Schmitz. That is why “consistency will beat intensity every time.”

You can move forward with your resolutions even after the initial enthusiasm has worn off or you feel discouraged. Choose to make God a priority in 2019.

Negro Chin is bilingual associate editor at Maryknoll Magazine.

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