Some may lay the blame on vague resolutions, such as “read or exercise more” or “eat healthier or less,” and we are left wondering if and when we achieved those. Others might say that the resolutions are too grand, too big, or too hard to achieve or sustain, such as “cut out all sweets or lose thirty pounds by summer.”
Both of those thoughts might be true, but I think the problem is a bit more simple. I think we don’t realize that failure is a part of progress. In other words, we have to be willing to take baby steps to reach our goals.
If you watch a baby learn to walk, the first few steps are very halting and unstable, and there are a lot of falls, some of which cause only surprise while others hurt quite a bit. Regardless, I have never witnessed a baby fall and then refuse ever to try to walk again. Instead, after a good cry and some encouragement from a family member, the toddler struggles back to his or her feet to give it another go.
Yet, we as adults give up all the time. When the third week of January comes around and we have slipped in a resolution, we often throw up our hands, count the year a loss, and vow never to make another “stupid” resolution again.
The expression “to take baby steps” means “a tentative act or measure which is the first stage in a long or challenging process.” But most of us want the result immediately. Not always because we are impatient, but because we don’t want to have to experience the long and difficult process of successes and failures that is required to reach that goal. We want to be rid of fear, or jealousy, or insecurity, or weight, or a bad habit now, not six months from now, and we certainly don’t want to have to work at it.
We approach our spiritual resolutions in the same manner. We want a strong and meaningful prayer life now. We want to be loving and patient and kind without having to go through those experiences that would force us to build those qualities. We want to trust God more, but do not want to go through those situations which would require us to trust Him.
It is true that if we pursue any goal, we will fall and fail at some point in the process. Perhaps, in the first week or two of January it will be every few minutes, but maybe in the last two weeks it will be every every hour and then in February we will make it a day or a week without falling back into an old pattern or lapse into old behaviors.
Don’t let your good intentions go by the wayside because of a setback, and remember Paul’s encouraging words when he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). After all, toddlers begin with a parent holding their hands as they attempt to take their first steps, and then the parents hold out their arms in encouragement, willing the child toward them. Our Father does no less. He holds and encourages us as we take our own baby steps toward our goals.
Note: My sister shared the following link with me. It speaks to some of what is discussed above but also much more. It is extremely revealing, and though it focuses on millennials, I think we can all relate to many of Simon Sinek’s points. It is about 15 minutes, but is so interesting, it feels like two! Please copy and paste into your browser.
“Baby step.” English Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. 2017. Web. 4 Jan. 2017.