Planning for the New Year Ahead
God is a God of order and routine. One of the greatest ways to see God delight of order is to view the changing seasons. Everything follows a pattern. We have spring, then summer, followed by fall and the winter. The cycle continues - month after month, year after year. Sure, we can have season that are mild or extremely hard – but overall we know that after one season follows the next and there is an anticipated pattern in the weather for each season.
God delights in order. He has designed our bodies to function best in a consistency of order. Can you imagine if there were no season changes? How boring that would be! Isn’t it nice to know that Tuesday follows Monday and that Friday comes at the end of the week? Imagine if everyday was a Monday. Now that is a scary thought!
Not only is God a God of order; but He has designed us and our bodies to function in a state of order and routine. Our bodies thrive on routine. Some people delight in order more than others. I love knowing what is coming next. Organization and organizational tools fascinate me! My husband, on the other hand, does not get as much joy out of organization as I do. I love to organize. I love to have a routine. I love to plan. My husband – not so much. However, whether you are a born organizer or whether you delight in living life shooting from the hip, planning and goal setting are great tools to make your life even better. Time management skills can be a great asset to anyone.
The first part of the year is a great time to sit down and take some time to look ahead and plan. I love the quote, “He who aims at nothing always hits it.” Planning for the upcoming year can have huge benefits for anyone. For a person who has suffered a great loss in the recent past, like SIDS, looking and planning in the upcoming year can have added benefits.
A grieving parent who takes some time to plan for the upcoming year will find they benefit from the reality that life does go on. Is this not one of the hardest concepts to accept after our baby dies? Part of our hearts does not want to go on; and part of us knows that we need to. The question then comes to, “How do we get our life to go on?” Looking at this in the perspective of a new year can be greatly beneficial. Yes, life has changed. Drastically! However, you must will yourself to go on. There are still days to be lived and jobs to be accomplished even though you feel that you can not. One of the greatest helps in working through grief is just getting up and doing the next thing. Take some time here this week to think about how you want your life to go on. What things can you do to make that a reality.
Perhaps grief is fresh and the death of your baby is very recent. For you, the next thing may just be getting up and getting dressed or eating at least one decent meal a day. For others the grief may be something with which you are learning to live. It is good then to take thought of what things in your life have been put aside that need to be brought back out and enjoyed? Perhaps it is a hobby that the time of crisis demanded you put aside in order to get through the details that followed your baby’s death. Perhaps you enjoyed reading to your to your other children before you tucked them into bed and you have found that is a part of your evening that took a backseat when grief was so fresh. Maybe the beginning of this year would be a good time to put back into your life the little things that were part of your life before your baby died. Every family puts aside that which is unnecessary when crisis hits. Take time to evaluate this New Year and see if it is time to bring out some of those things that made life fun and enjoyable.
Another benefit of taking thought of the New Year and planning is that you can focus on the fact that life exists outside of yourself. When crisis happens we pull inward. This is normal in the human body. During the time of the holocaust when prisoners in the camps were in survival mode their bodies stopped doing a lot of the normal functions in order to conserve energy for the body to do the functions that were required in order to just survive the next day. The same is true in our emotional make up during times of grief and crisis. Our minds go into survival mode. We have trouble making decisions, remembering details, or being able to think of other aspects of our life. Our thoughts and energies turn immediately to the crisis. You have heard it said, “We go into survival mode.” When that happens, our life becomes very small. Our focus and view becomes very near sighted. This is good – during the initial time of crisis.
However, if we are not careful it is easy to stay looking at that small circle of our life and forget that there is life outside our little circle. When we continue to live life in the confines of the small circle of crisis mode, our life stops being effective. A fresh look at the New Year should allow you to take some time and evaluate how you can impact and help others around you. This is a huge healing step in the grief process. Perhaps it is an elderly person that you can go and visit for a week, or perhaps there is a charity or cause that you would like to donate some of your time helping. The benefits come when we give of ourselves to help others around us. Grief makes us see ourselves and our hurt; but healing comes when we are able to live outside of our circle and see our lives benefiting and helping others.
The gift of being able to look at the New Year ahead of us is that we can see that life can be reconstructed. All of us have dreams and desires. All of us have accomplished some of our dreams and know the feeling of accomplishment that comes when we reach our goals. When we loose a child to SIDS it is easy to forget that while some dreams will never become a reality new dreams can be made. Yes, having a baby die makes our lives seem like they have completely fallen apart. Life seems uncertain and it is possible after the death of a child to feel that you are too afraid to look ahead and plan out dreams – for fear that they too will fall apart.
Yet, as Christians we know that we can plan and focus on what we feel that God would have us to do with our lives. Sometimes, God’s will for us changes in ways we never saw coming. However, we have a confidence that God will use those changes for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). That gives us the ability to look ahead and make plans for what we feel God would have for us to accomplish. We also know that if God says He will use even the heartache for our good, that God’s plans for the future very well might include a facet of ministry that we never would have had the opportunity to be qualified for if we had not gone through the trial.
So, I ask you, how is God wishing to reshape your life in the coming year? I would encourage you to take some time and really think about the year ahead of you. How does God want to use this upcoming year for His glory through your life?
If you are serious about taking some time and evaluating the year that lies before you, I would challenge you to take a weekend here at the beginning of the year and spend some time planning. In the next few posts we are going to break down how we can plan and get the most out of the upcoming year – even when we are grieving a terrible loss.
I hope you will join us! I wish you God’s best and blessings on the upcoming New Year.