When I began this project, I chose the order of these first two months carefully, knowing that it is easier for me to feel spiritual when my home and mind are uncluttered. Of course, if you caught my recent video of Lilly that I posted to facebook, you know that the uncluttered clean home did not last. I have been tempted to start this whole year over because I have not been perfect in achieving my monthly goals, but I am constantly reminding myself that in this case, perfection is not my goal. This is not a perfect year and I do not intend for it to be so. Bear with me in the next paragraph here. It may sound a bit rambling, but I promise I'm coming back to the point.
In my career as a drug and alcohol counselor, there is a popular movement away from the all-or-nothing view of abstinence based programs toward a "harm reduction" approach. The idea behind this approach is that many people are not ready to quit using their drug(s). In fact, they may never have the desire or motivation to do so. If we limit their options to "quit or get out of treatment until you can," they miss out on an entire range of potential life-bettering changes that could occur.
For example, there may be a heroin user who will not consider quitting opiates. However, given the resources and opportunity, she may choose to change her habit of re-using old needles. She may choose, instead, to participate in a "clean needle exchange" which provides users with free, clean needles. While she will continue to suffer the harmful effects of the drug, her risk of contracting aids will decrease dramatically. This kind of change is positive and was worth the effort.
I have come to really love this concept, which is summed up by the mantra, "any positive change." To me, this means that perfection (in this case abstinence, in my case perfect completion of my goals) is not the only form of success. (That should be obvious, but sometimes it really isn't).
In the church, we often strive for perfection. Christ himself set the bar pretty high when he said "be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect." This sounds like it would be a very pleasant achievement, but I think Jesus knows that's not going to happen in this lifetime. I have felt the Spirit confirm to me that "any positive change" is a concept that pleases God. After all, the more harm reduction we do, the closer we get to the ultimate goal of perfection.
So, friends, I am not starting the year over so I can "do better this time," partly because then I would have to decide between waiting until January 2016 or counting 12 months from March, which just doesn't feel right (perfectionism dies hard), but mostly because I am meeting my goal of "any positive change" and I count that a success worth celebrating.