Dear Mark - This is an excellent subject! Thanks for bringing it up.
It is great you made a decision in your life to walk with Jesus sincerely. I noticed your list of “things” you began to do was missing something - Confession! Yes, it is true we only need to go to Confession when we are guilty of Mortal sin, but Confessing Venial sins does a few things. First it gives us the grace to fight them. That’s the tops for me. It is the Sacrament of Mercy and the grace it imparts strengthens the soul to fight its sins. One of the other things frequent Confession provides is the habit of examining one’s conscience often. Then we know what to fight.
I would also like to mention your thinking is getting convoluted. If you only focus on your sins, you will get discouraged and might risk giving up entirely. That would be disasterous! Please praise God for the times you aren’t sinning! I’m quite sure there are hours in your day when you aren’t sinning! Thank God for them and give yourself a big pat on the back. After all, when we aren’t sinning, God is well pleased, even if there aren’t any emotions at all attached to this fact. Which brings me to another pitfall - using your emotional experiences as a guide to whether or not your sins are forgiven.
I need also to suggest you get your hands on a solid guide to the battle against sin. The Sinner’s Guide by Tan is really good, so is My Daily Bread or The Imitation of Christ. There are some really good books to use as a guide to living this thing right. If you’re serious try them.
Living without sin takes work and this is work on ourselves and many aren’t willing. Prayer is key. Pray for the willingness. Take on one fault at a time and WORK on it.
I’ll share a little of my own battle. I have a temper. You can imagine how that effects me. I’ve prayed to have it removed, the fault, but found it remains, so now I pray that God “save me” from being angry. I avoid things that might make me angry when I’m in one of those moods. I work on it. Each morning, after I make the Morning Offering, I also ask God for the grace for each days battle, i.e. “…and please keep me from being angry, and not react if ----- bothers me again today, and help me not overeat…etc.” This is my conversation with God beyond the rote prayers. Keeps me on my knees a few minutes more, but hey, it works for me.
At the end of the day I do a brief examination of conscience. I look over my day and see where I could’ve done better, but I also look at where I’ve done better. Then I “say” I’m sorry, resolve to work harder tomorrow and thank God for the grace as things improve. I also thank God for what I consider silly stuff like the rain, the birds, the trees, the sweet air, a good dinner or a good friend - silly stuff we all take for granted. Personally I think God isn’t thanked enough for what little we DO have!
To sum it up, in the morning I ask please help me…in the evening I say thank you for helping me.
Well, that’s enough from me on the subject for now. Thanks again for bringing it up and pray God give you the grace to see honestly how you’ve improved over these years (temperately of course!). Know He is well pleased with your efforts.