Being a Christian isn't always easy, and I'll be the first to admit that. Although the Lord gives His followers great rewards, it's easy to lose sight of these and to instead get distracted by other things in our lives. Every year, we start out with high hopes of what the new year will hold. We carefully plan out what our year will look like: the things we will accomplish, the places we will go and the person that we will become. As Christians, we often hold ourselves to exceptionally high standards. We tell ourselves that we're going to read our Bibles every day, pray more and give up those biting sins that tempt us. Although these are all good resolutions, it is inevitable that we will slip because, after all, we're all human.
Maybe you're looking back at 2017 and you know exactly what I'm talking about. You might have put church and time with God on the back burner or stopped altogether. Or maybe you let yourself get sucked into actions or thoughts that you know aren't Godly. Others of you may not be able to pinpoint the problem so easily, but know that something is off or missing. You may feel like getting back on track is hopeless, but it's not, and you're not alone in your struggles.
For me, 2017 started out strong. I made a list of resolutions for myself and other Christians and, although I knew it wouldn't be easy, I was determined to stick to them. However, about half-way through the year, I began to slip. On the surface, nothing changed. I still went to church every Sunday, read my Bible, journaled and was heavily involved with Cru, a campus ministry group.
In my heart, though, things were different. Reading my Bible and journaling became something that I forced myself to do, not something that I looked forward to every night. Most of the time I felt like my relationship with Christ was stagnant, and although I longed for the growth that I had experienced in the past, I convinced myself that how I was feeling was normal and okay. However, I've realized that this wasn't how I should be feeling nor how I need to be feeling.
As cliché as it sounds, 2018 is a new year and a fresh start for both you and me. Just because you feel like you got off track in 2017 doesn't mean that you have to stay that way. Start by getting to the root of your struggles. Determine what it was that made you start to slip. Was it your actions or way of thinking? Was it the people who you surrounded yourself with? Was it a temptation that you kept giving into?
Next, make a plan of how you're going to fix this problem. Maybe that's changing the people that you surround yourself with, removing yourself from situations that will trigger temptation or forming a new habit that will bring you closer to God.
Lastly, set up checkpoints for yourself. If you feel like you're getting off track again (and many of us will), you don't have to wait a whole year to start over again. I recommend that you write all of these things down so that you can revisit them and make changes to your plan.
Likely, 2018 isn't going to be a walk in the park. You're going to come up against challenges and temptations just like you did in 2017. However, instead of letting these things derail you, use them to make you stronger and to strengthen your relationship with Christ.