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Take up the Challenge for Becoming a Better You for God, Yourself and Others


MAXMark Twain wrote: “New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.”
 
Twain’s appraisal of the New Year makes me smile but rings a bit too true. I believe Twain captures the reality of many people’s experience. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. The New Year can be a time of self reflection and an opportunity to become transformed into a “new person in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
 
The New Year is an opportunity to look back over the past year and recount both our many blessings and our many struggles—a time to claim the changes we want and need to make to live a fuller life. It can be a time to look to the new year with a renewed hope and promise of being a better you—all that God has created you to be.
 
Now, I know what you are thinking—the success rate of New Year resolutions is bleak—80 percent of resolutions fail by February and 92 percent percent fail later in the year. Most of us have attempted resolutions and failed. Real change is hard to sustain solely by will power. But I believe that, through the power of God and the support of others, we can be transformed. I find confidence in God’s promise: “I am making all things new” (Revelation 2:15).
 
I started “THE MAX 10-week Challenge” on the Monday after Thanksgiving. THE MAX Challenge is a fitness program that includes healthy eating, five days each week of intense cardio and strength training, motivational talks, and, most importantly, a community with the same goal and a desire to help each other reach that goal. I have completed five weeks of the challenge. I started on November 26. I thought, “Why wait to gain another five pounds over the holidays? I figured that it is best to start any change as soon as you have the motivation and opportunity. With God, every day is a new day.
 
I had been trying to lose that extra 10 pounds (which recently became 20) for the past five years with limited success. A few of the women in my parish shared with me their experience of THE MAX Challenge. They looked great, had lost weight and inches, were eating healthfully, and had more energy.
 
The results were tangible. Their living witness convinced me to commit to the 10-week Challenge. It has been a transformative experience—transforming my mind, body and spirit. I think it is working for me, because of the daily 7 a.m. exercise with my group, a strong sense of community, support from the trainers, and a solid eating plan. As I have reflected on these past five weeks and my success with the program, I have begun to reflect on why it works and how I can apply it to other changes I would like to make.
 
So I offer you three ways to effect change in your life as we begin this new year:
 

  1. Trust in God’s transformative power. God loves us unconditionally and wants us to live full and abundant lives. This means taking seriously the call from Jesus to be temples of the Holy Spirit, caring for our bodies, minds, and spirits.
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  3. Break through barriers. Self-reflection is key to being a spiritually healthy person. What small change do you want to make this year? Real and lasting change is slow and gradual and is effected by taking up the challenge every day. One of my favorite things we did at THE MAX Challenge was to write three goals on a wooden board. The instructor then held up the board, and we each broke it with our palm. I felt powerful as my board snapped on the first try!
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  5. Do it with others. One of the things that surprised me about THE MAX Challenge was the strong sense of community—people helping people and working together for a common purpose. It reinforces for me the importance of the Christian community and how we are part of something greater than ourselves. We can make changes in our lives through the power of God, the sacramental life, and the support of our sisters and brothers in Christ. We are not “lone rangers.” We are made for communion with God, with nature, and with one another.

 
Take up the challenge to make real change in your life this year for the sake of being fully human, fully alive, and in communion with God and others. Commit to real change, and do it with others. Believe you can break through barriers of old and tired ways, and be transformed into a new creation in Christ!
 
Start today, and if you stumble, let another pick you up and start again on the path to being a better you for God and others.
 
Sr. Terry Rickard is the Executive Director of RENEW International and a Dominican Sister from Blauvelt, NY.

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2 Responses to “Take up the Challenge for Becoming a Better You for God, Yourself and Others”


 
  1. Terry D says:

    I also am having a transformation with the help of the Max Challenge. I know that Jesus brought me there and I now am going to transform that into spending more time in the presence of Our Lord.

  2. Ed Standley says:

    ‘Live Lent’ got me hear. I have ordered books for small groups in our parish
    noticed you were a Dominican and this post reminds me of the commitment I made for the Dominican associates program, accountability is a powerful force, as is community. I also can relate
    The Max to 12 step programs, AA and NA, the vital importance of reflection and for me ash Wednesday is ‘New Years day’

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