Remember Dobby in the Harry Potter series? Every time he even thinks he might've done something wrong, he starts banging his head and chanting "bad Dobby" over and over again. It's endearing in an odd sort of way, maybe because it's so familiar. We all talk to ourselves all the time, and too often it's bad-Dobby talk: "Bad Dobby, you messed up again. You always do, sooner or later. You should be ashamed of yourself." Think about what you say to yourself when you fall short on your fresh starts -- when you eat the cake or yell at the kids or forget to be thankful or let that four-letter word slip out. Do you say angry, shaming bad-Dobby words, or do you say "I-love-you-anyway" words? It matters a lot. A steady diet of bad-Dobby words will poison any fresh start before it can take root. If you want your fresh starts to grow and thrive, you have to practice seeing yourself the way God sees you (with compassion and grace) and talking to yourself that way, too. After a while, the bad-Dobby words won't get any traction at all, and that's a very good thing.
"The LORD [is] compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness. . . ." Ex. 34:6.