January has arrived – undoubtedly the most interesting, exciting, life-renewing and yet frustrating time of the year!
I cant describe it any better than the editor of a local magazine:
“Its when the memory of the old year grumbles stiff-legged around the lounge mopping up what’s left of the Christmas snacks while the new year perches on the end of the sofa, not saying a lot, but clearly bursting with much to say. It’s a time when we try not to think about the things we got so terribly wrong. It’s a time when we concentrate on the things we hope to do terribly well”
We wait excitedly for the New Year to dawn so we can state (even if that’s all we do) our good intentions or new resolutions for the next 365 days: I’m going to exercise more, eat less, drink less, spend less time on Whatsapp and Facebook, study harder, pray more, resist sexual temptation, think and act more purely, be kinder, and the list goes on.
And so January, not surprisingly, turns out to be the toughest time of the year! What with the sudden burst of exercising (often for the first time in months), reducing food and drink intake (miserably so!), resisting the FOMO, praying more sincerely and consistently, fighting the demons of impurity etc, only to find, usually by the third day of this self-imposed saintliness, that all we’ve achieved is a sore body, total frustration, self-recrimination, self-guilt and basically a complete sense-of-humour failure!
Once again, confirmation that trying to be a better, healthier, saintly, person is very hard work and, well let’s face it, we are a generation that doesn’t really take to ‘hard work’! It’s work that involves the effort of both mind and body, self-will and self-mastery, not only for a year but for life! That’s the hard news but the good news is that it results in a life-time of a sense of deep-rooted happiness and freedom! Alas, lack of endurance and not giving time for those resolutions to take root, we resort to slipping back into our old ways believing we are better off embracing our old inner self! Trying for longer than the time between the New Resolution and the next couple of days, goes against the grain of what the culture and reality TV shows would have us believe but even self-help gurus maintain that forming a new habit takes anything up to 66 days! Of course, as Christians we must be convinced that all the good we do comes from God and Him alone, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5) He did not say “..you cant do much” but “…you can do NOTHING”. It’s important that we be persuaded of this truth.
The secret is not giving up when by the 3rd of January the resolutions have gone out the window but rather to persevere, to be consistent in trying to make the changes and to commit to putting into action, anything – however small – required to bring about the resolution. And whatever we do poorly, we must strive to improve. This is how God works in us.
I would say these are the prerequisites for any personal or spiritual makeover! Let’s not dwell on the things we get so terribly wrong but rather, let us commit and persevere in what we manage! With Him, all things are possible.
Happy, blessed 2016!
About Marie-Anne te Brake
Happily married to Christo since 1980, mother of 4, and has half a dozen grandchildren! Enthusiastic Catholic, Lay Counselor, Sexuality Educator, Theology of the Body enthusiast and Chairperson of Foundation for the Person and the Family