Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing. -Mother Teresa
Tomorrow is the first day of 2022. A brand new day, in a brand new month, in a brand new year. It is untouched and full of possibilities. It is the first page in an unused journal. Are you ready? Because whether you are or you are not…it’s here.
But where did this tradition of New Year’s resolutions come from anyway? According to History.com, the ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.
A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. Named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches, January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.
For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as known as watch night services, they included readings from Scriptures and hymn singing, and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year.
Despite the tradition’s religious roots, New Year’s resolutions today are a mostly secular practice. Instead of making promises to the gods, most people make resolutions only to themselves, and focus purely on self-improvement (which may explain why such resolutions seem so hard to follow through on). According to recent research, while as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals.
The common theme in failing to achieve the goals set seems to be setting our sights too high. New habits are hard to make and even harder to keep up. It’s said that any new habit takes at least 30 days to form. So, if your goal is to run a marathon, and you get winded walking to the mailbox, you might be setting yourself up for failure. In order to achieve our goals, we must be realistic in our approach. Start with little things…easily attainable and within reach.
Be faithful in the little things. Whether it’s a physical goal or a spiritual one, take little bites so that you don’t choke before you’ve barely gotten started. Want to lose weight? Why not cut out one food that is not good for you? Conquer that food and then add another. Want to run a marathon? Begin a good walking routine. Start with a few blocks and gradually build up. Want to read the Bible? Start with one verse of one book. Build up gradually, adding a few verses at a time.
Be faithful…be realistic. And above all, be patient with yourself. If you mess up or skip a day, don’t give up! Refocus your mind and move on. Remember, this is about you…for you! And you are worth it!
Twelve years ago this week, I started writing this blog. I had suffered an illness and wasn’t able to return to work. I couldn’t drive and depression had set in. My husband, Jim, knowing how much I loved to write, suggested that I start a blog. My goal was to write something everyday, but with my health the way it was, it wasn’t possible. If you look through my old blogs, you will see big gaps between some posts. And that’s okay. It’s always here, like an old friend, waiting for me to come back and write again. Want to see the blog that started it all? You can scroll through the archives or use this link: https://wordpress.com/post/writes4him.blog/3
One of the things I want to achieve in 2022 is to learn more about the saints. Each day, I’m going to read about whatever saint whose feast day or solemnity it is. Tomorrow, I’ll begin with St. Mary, with the Solemnity of Mary.
Another goal is to make a “temperature blanket.” My friend, Diana, introduced this to me. In 2021, each day, she knitted one row of an afghan. The color she used was determined by the outside temperature of the day. So, she ended up with a beautiful, multicolor blanket. I’m not a knitter (yet…this is another goal for 2022), so I’m going to crochet mine.
I have other resolutions for 2022. Jim and I began a new diet, in the truest sense of the word, in 2021. In other words, we are eating like grown ups…lol. To add to that, I’ve begun working out. Those of you who know me, my history of neck surgeries, know that I’m still extremely limited as to what I can do physically. But I am resolved to do what I can, to build up my strength without putting pressure on my neck. It takes some “tweaking”, but the main thing is to do what I can do.
And so, to you and yours, I wish you a blessed 2022. What ever your resolution or goal, remember to start small. Build a good “habit” foundation and add a little bit each day. And if you fall, pick yourself up and move forward.
Happy New Year!
Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed. -Cavett Robert