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January 2, 2007
Today the gym will be full of people. My guess is that it will stay that way until the end of the week and then it will get back to normal.

Most of them will disappear: they will catch colds, or have two early meetings in a row, or just not be in the mood. Or they will get on the scale and not see the subtraction they want to see and get discouraged. Or they will miss a few days and mess up the perfection of their compliance with their resolution about exercise in the New Year, and then they will say to themselves Oh, what's the use? and that will be that.

As a service, then, a few words of unsolicited advice:

1. Don't try to keep your resolution all by yourself. Stop thinking of it in terms of willpower. In fact, consider not thinking of it as a resolution at all: think of it as a prayer. You are not alone--no one on earth is alone. God is with us, and can do things we can't do. Just ask God for the help you need, in a childish way that may feel pretty foolish to you in the beginning -- do it anyway. Try approaching it for a time as if you trusted God more than you really do -- you have nothing to lose by doing this, and you may find God more trustworthy than you imagined.

2. Don't expect or demand perfection of yourself. Think instead of developing a habit, laying down layer after layer of the behavior you want to see in yourself. People build habit from the bottom up, layer by layer -- not from the top down.

3. Don't be harsh with yourself when you fail. Everybody fails. If you are mean to yourself about it, you will hurt your own feelings, and then you will run in self defence to the very behavior you're trying to change, as a source of quick comfort. You have no right and no reason to love yourself any less than God loves you. Failure is a chance to let God help us.

3. Don't start big and shrink. Start small and grow. Don't set too ambitious an agenda at first--set a small one. Otherwise you'll give up when you fail to meet your enormous goal. Instead, make a small change and allow it to cement itself into the routine of your life.

4. When you break your stride, don't try to make it up. Just get back on the horse. Don't spend two hours at the gym on Tuesday because you didn't spend on hour there on Monday. Just go in and do your hour. Don't fast all day today because you ate an entire cake yesterday. Just get back on your plan. Every day is a new day.

Blessings on you in 2007. May your New Year's prayers bear the fruit you need, and may you become, more and more, the person God had in mind in forming you.
Check out two NewYork opportunities to study with Barbara Crafton this term: at General Theological Seminary's Center for Christian Spirituality onTuesday evenings beginning January 30th, and at St.Bart's on Sunday evenings in February and March, beginning February 4th. Visit and click on "news and events".
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