Hello Folks. Happy New Year to you all. It’s January 2021 New Years Resolution time. I think a lot of us hate new years resolutions because we know that at some point we might fail at meeting our own high expectations. Cutting out sugar, losing weight, working out more, are always good places to start.
But how about considering this year some spiritual resolutions in our lives to connect what we do or don’t do with a deeper meaning and purpose? Don’t be afraid to fail at these 10 suggestions I plan to leave with you today. Just pick up where you left off and keep moving forward with them and start anew.
1) Increase your kindness. If you wish to feel kind, then do something good. The great secret of moral growth is that it often begins from the outside. Rather than your joy leading you to smile, your smile can lead you to joy. Behave kindly and generously this year, even when you don’t feel like it. The act can be big or small. A gentle word, or help with a grocery bag is a great place to start.
2) Engage with people more than pixels. Texting is easier than talking, it gives us intimacy without danger. It doesn’t replace human connection though. This year, resolve to spend more time looking into someone’s eyes when you connect with them. Perhaps once a week, replace a text with a coffee. Make a promise of presence.
3) Listen more. To others, to loved ones, before offering your opinions and thoughts. As you develop a more disciplined awareness for attentive listening, you will discover it’s much easier to hear God’s voice in that space that silence affords you. Allow God to speak to your heart and respond to Him with love among those around you.
4) Simplify your life. Not just reoganizing your shelves or cleaning out closets. But spiritually, decluttering our mental and emotional states of being. Get rid of distractions that deter us from what really matters. One idea might be to cut 10 minutes/day of wasted time on watching tv or scanning the internet and replace it with something that will make you a better person ie) 10 minutes of prayer, bible reading, develop a hobby or talent to share with others.
5) Choose to forgive. We all have grievances in our lives. Some people are hard to forgive but you need not begin with the toughest cases. Small acts of grace will grow. Forgive the guy who cut you off in the intersection. Choose a place to begin. The more you forgive, the less the world can injure you. Forgiveness is a soft shield for your soul. Also, forgive yourself. Fight against perfectionism. There will always be more opportunities to get things wrong then right. God is supposed to be perfect not humans. Have expectations of yourself, but every now and then give yourself a break if you don’t always get it right and move on. Stop, reflect and celebrate your progress.
6) Consider, a trip to the confessional, 1 visit/month or 1 visit/ 2 months. For some of us who haven’t been in years, this might be a very big scary step. I get it. But you know what? Get over it. Priests love seeing people who haven’t been in years. You actually may make their day by showing up. It’s offered every day among parishes. Just check online or make an appointment. They have strict covid protocols in place so don’t use covid as an excuse to put this off. Don’t let your fears or resistance deter you from cleansing your soul through this sacrament. This amazing spiritual lesson can jump start great conversations about forgiveness, how we can make amends to those we hurt and how we can change our bad habits. The graces, and peace bestowed upon folks after this spiritual encounter are huge.
7) Daily Prayer. 5-10 minutes of spontaneous, raw, deep, honest conversation with God. Consider, consulting God’s opinion regarding your deepest desires, goals, dreams, discouragement, disappointments and frustrations. Consider letting Him take control of your life this year. Consider, getting yourself out of the way and if you do this, He will move in and put the puzzle pieces of your life in their proper place. This very decision is not the fear of giving up control, it is actually the bringing of true freedom. The result will be greater direction, clarity, motivation, and inner happiness and peace. Try it. What have you got to lose.
8) Read. Consider reading 10 minutes a day of a spiritual book. I always keep one on my kindle or by my nightstand. Read a book that will inspire you to grow in virtue and rid your life of vice. Perhaps bring it along while waiting in a doctors office.
9) Volunteer. Consider 1 hour / week or 1 hour / month maybe to start. Food drives, donation collections, call a senior at home, shovel a seniors driveway, bring baked goods to folks who you know are lonely.
10) Mass. Consider attending mass, preferable Sunday weekly mass, or start with 1-2 Sunday masses per month. Or perhaps attend a mass during the week. While during Covid, try a mass online each week. They are offered every day of the week online. To worship, to praise and to thank God for our great lives, our blessings, to ask Him to intercede for all those we know in need and to receive Him intimately in the Eucharist. There is no greater gift or celebration. Remember, when you spend time with our Lord, he will spend time with you.
You may now be thinking I am pushing all this upon you. I am truly not. Through my own research this list is only for your consideration. Only you can decide if what I suggest makes sense. My final food for thought is this. I believe that we need to take our souls seriously. It’s easy to pretend that what we watch and how we speak has no effect on us. But the continuous ranting of hatred and dehumanization from our media does have consequences for our character. Part of who we are is the sum of the influences we choose. What we watch, who we associate with, and how we speak about them publicly and privately. Life is a continuous journey of soul shaping and this year, especially with Covid making life so vulnerable, I encourage you to take note of your soul. You only get one soul; don’t squander it on things unworthy of its greatness. This year live life purposefully. Will you achieve this everyday? Absolutely not. The key to these spiritual new years resolutions is not to triumph or to always succeed. The key is to grow !
Enjoy the rest of your day.