Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution? How long were you able to keep it? If you are like me, I’m good for a few days or a few weeks at most. Here’s the critical question. Once you broke that resolution, what happened? Most people find when they break the resolution, they give themselves a free pass until the end of the year. Why? Because no matter how badly we say we want to change, it’s hard work. We often have developed bad habits because even though they are bad for us, there was a pay out of some sort in them – usually a make-me-feel-good-in-the-moment one.
Change really isn’t impossible. In Matthew 19:26, Jesus tells us “with God everything is possible.” So what do you need to do to help you learn how to make necessary changes in your life and your parenting? There are probably a lot of little things, but here are three basic concepts for you to remember:
- True change is possible with God’s help. When you need or want to make a change in how you think, speak or act, ask God for His help. Why try it alone when you can tap into the ultimate power source? Pray to God for help. If you are a Christian, remember you have the gift of the Holy Spirit to help you. Heed the Holy Spirit’s warnings to move away from the things that will tempt you to fall back into old, bad habits. Remember change is not just about actions, but God wants your heart to change and grow as well. Many if not most bad habits are a form of selfishness. The true cure is not just breaking the selfish habit, but changing the selfish heart.
- Think about change one minute at a time if necessary. If you know very much about addiction recovery, one of the tricks they teach, is to avoid thinking of it as a lifetime of avoiding the substance. It is just too overwhelming. Instead, they counsel them to focus on not using the substance today or this hour or just this minute. Change is a lot less scary and overwhelming, when you just have to focus on changing this minute. Focus on making that change for just today or just this hour or just for the next five minutes. Then tackle the change for the next small block of time. Before long, you will look up and realize you have made the change for a significant amount of time and it has become a new habit.
- Grace, resiliency and change are inseparable. Even with God’s help and taking it step by step, you are probably going to slip from time to time. Mistakes and sins are forgivable. Ask God to forgive you and accept His grace. You can’t stop there though. You need to develop resilience. Resilience is the ability to fall down, but then stand back up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. If not, you will become locked in a cycle of accepting your bad habits as inevitable, and periodically asking God for forgiveness or a relief from the guilt or pain caused by the bad habit. Resilience is key because it takes you back to our first concept and makes true change possible. That is what true repentance is – asking for forgiveness, but also striving to not repeat the sin again by turning away from it. To do that, you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and turn and walk away from the sin.
Making the spiritual and parenting changes you need to make, sets a great example for your kids. They will learn how to repent, lean on God and make the changes they need to make to live the lives God wants them to live. Don’t give up on yourself – God is on your side when you are striving to make the changes He wants you to make. He will help you, if you will let Him.