It’s natural at the beginning of a new year to look back at the previous year, and I think that we can learn a lot from looking back. However, it’s all too easy to get down on ourselves for those areas of life that we wanted to improve upon–finances, health, attitudes, bad habits, personal Bible study, etc.–but that we still find ourselves struggling with come year’s end.

I am my own worst critic, and I suspect that many can say the same about themselves. While I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions, per se, I do want to make a concerted effort to beat myself up less and recognize more often when I’m making progress in those challenging areas. I don’t mean in a prideful, “look-what-I-did” sort of way, but rather, recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit in me to change me.

That does not mean that I don’t keep working on those areas of my life. It does mean that I take the time to appreciate progress made in every area of life, even something as mundane as eating all my sushi with chopsticks without dropping any food, as I did at lunch the other day. (I have to say, I was quite excited about that, as I’m usually a messy eater and I usually use a fork to eat my sushi!)

Let me encourage you to take time to acknowlege even those little triumphs in your life. Lose that “all or nothing” mentality. I have to admit that that is something I’ve struggled with quite a bit.

Say your goal is to spend an hour each day in Bible study, but so far you can only muster your attention span for 15 minutes. Rather than be discouraged about not reaching an hour yet and giving up study time altogether, celebrate those 15 minutes and spend the time fully concentrated on God’s Word. Trust that, over time, God will expand your thirst for time spent with Him.

I believe that God usually changes us little by little, moment by moment, rather than all in one fell swoop. We’re most likely not going to lie down to sleep at night and wake up the next day with our bad attitudes gone like magic. If you’re stuggling to see progress in your life, ask God to reveal to you the ways that He is at work in you.

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