God’s power exceeds our willpower

By Father Joseph Breighner
 
As we journey through the early part of our new year, I wanted to share one humorous moment from this past Christmas. I had gone down to 34th Street in Hampden to see the Christmas lights. On this Christmas Eve the street was packed with people. As we walked through the crowd, I happened to notice a little white dog. Naturally, I stopped to pet the dog, and the little boy beside the dog said: “My dog is made up of three dogs!” And the mother standing next to him said, yes: “A Pomeranian, a Westie and a Shih-Tzu.” And the little boy added: “And one of the names is not a nice word!” So I said: “Just say Zu!”
Quite possibly you made some new year’s resolutions. If you’re anything like most people, you’ve probably already broken those resolutions. Many studies have indicated that about 90 percent of all resolutions are broken within 48 hours. So don’t feel bad if you’re in that statistic. Welcome to the world of the human ego.
The problem for most of us is that we base our resolutions on our willpower, rather than on God’s power. And our willpower is no match for the constant bombardment of our senses by the advertising industry which endlessly tells us to want more, be more, look better, smell better, and on and on. Put simply, our advertising industry constantly tells us that something is lacking in us, but if we had something else – another drink, another car, another drug – we would be better.
Remember, as many of us learned early in life, that the devil is the father of lies.
What we really need is less – less of our human ego, and more of who we really are – the dwelling place of God. So, if we base our resolutions on God’s power, and not our ego’s cravings, then we have a chance.
Allow me to quote just one paragraph from a Hazelden meditation: “In the new year, I will live one day at a time. I will make each day one of preparation for better things ahead. I will not dwell on the past or on the future, only on the present. I will bury every fear of the future, all thoughts of unkindness and bitterness, all my dislikes, my resentments, my sense of failure, my disappointment in others and in myself, my gloom and my despondency. I will leave all of these things buried and go forward in this new year into a new life!
“I pray that God will guide me one day at a time in the new year. I pray that for each day, God will supply the wisdom and the strength that I need.”
Our resolutions fail when we depend on the human ego. Our resolutions succeed when we depend on God for guidance, wisdom and strength.
It doesn’t really matter when you make your resolutions. The first day of the calendar year is just a human formulation. Each day is the first day of the rest of your life. A priest friend once wrote something like: “The sun rises, the curtain goes up on an unrepeatable experience, a new day of your life.”
God doesn’t measure us by our failure. God measures us by our efforts to pick ourselves up and do better. God is the God of second chances, the God of new resolutions, the God for whom each day is a new day, a first day for the rest of our lives. Regardless of what day of the year this may be, let’s choose again to let go and let God. It really works. 

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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.