Family members may roll their eyes when we mention that our resolutions once again are to lose weight, pray more and shop less. But even if our resolve lasts only one month, the seeds of transformation can be planted.

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I believe in New Year’s resolutions. It is good to ponder what will make our lives better and then make it happen. In some ways, we have a blank slate before us as we work our way into 2012. We can live in the ruts of prior years or we can break out and do new things. Life is too short to be bored or mean-spirited or to live in the folds of old wounds.

Family members may be cynical and roll their eyes when we mention that once again our resolutions are to lose weight, pray more and shop less. But even if our resolve lasts only one month, that is a month more than if we did nothing. In a month, the seeds of transformation can be planted.

If there is a spiritual component to our resolutions, it may help to maintain them a bit longer. For Christians, getting healthy can be a way of treating our bodies as sacred places where God’s spirit dwells. Our bodies are gifts from God. We honor the gift when we make healthy choices that will lead to better thinking and greater mobility.

There can be a spiritual reason for getting finances in order as a new year gets under way. By doing financial and estate planning, we are able to better protect loved ones whom God has entrusted to our care. The stress of being in overwhelming debt takes a spiritual toll as well as an emotional one. It is challenging to be spiritually centered if we are worried about paying the light bill.

If cutting up a few credit cards will help you live within your means, I would be looking for the scissors right about now. Amassing debt to keep up appearances or to have the best-dressed children on the block are recipes for disaster. When we are less stressed about money, we may not have as many things, but we will have peace of mind, sleep better and have a stronger Christian witness. God wants us to be our best selves, not somebody else.

A resolution to let go and let God would be in order for those who like to control every aspect of life. We do not have to be anxious about life if we trust God to have our backs.

If we place our concerns in the hands of the Divine, we can be thankful knowing all is well. God promises always to be with us. It is a blessing to know God is better at keeping God’s word than we are at keeping our annual resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions are promises we make to ourselves. It helps to have an encouraging friend hold us accountable for the changes we plan to make. That friend may need to be someone other than one we live with. Those who see us every day may not believe in the power we have to change. In fact, they may have a vested interest in making sure we stay unhappy or unhealthy.

Seldom is change easy. Losing 20 pounds takes great effort. Our routines and our thinking have to change. Fat-laden fast foods have to be replaced by meals we prepare and shop for. Doing our own yard work instead of paying someone to do it can have physical, spiritual and financial benefits. When bored or frustrated, we must convince ourselves that putting on gym shoes and walking is a better option than foraging through the fridge.

Yes, it is easier to go unconscious and just complain about how things are. It takes guts and determination to make personal changes and stick with them. I like to say that nothing beats a failure but a try. Our resolutions may not last all year, but at least we can start the year with a made-up mind. We are worth the effort.

The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter is an associate in ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church and senior benefits consultant for American Baptist Churches in the USA. Readers may send feedback to