We talked about the benefits of planning and looking ahead in the New Year that lies before us. The benefits are there for everyone; but the grieving parent can find that taking time to plan for the days and months that lay ahead is actually a huge step in the grieving process.
We saw in the last article that planning benefits us because we are able to see that life really does go on even after the death of our child. We also took some time to talk about the benefit of seeing the life does exist outside of ourselves and our hurt. Taking time to plan can allow us to see that there are people that are hurting and need someone to come along side and help them. This too, is a huge step in the healing process that takes place during the journey of grief. We ended our last post talking about how it is beneficial for the grieving parent to see that life can be reconstructed even after it seemingly has ‘fallen apart’. What a comfort it is to know that even when our feelings tell us that everything is out of control that God never is amazed or surprised by the events that come into our lives - even when it involves SIDS.
We are going to continue along the same line; but move from why planning is beneficial and examine the nuts and bolts of how we can plan this New Year.
In his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” Covey talks about how we need to evaluate where we want to end up in order planning where we want to start. He challenges his readers to ‘start with the end in mind’. So I ask you grieving parent,” Where do you want to be at the end of 2013?” When you sit down with your family around the Christmas tree next year what do you want to have accomplished with your life in the twelve months that you have just lived? Think about it. Ponder it.
As a Christian we can ask and even deeper question to ourselves. What does God wants you to accomplish in the months that lie ahead? Would He have you spend more time with your family? Perhaps you feel that God is calling you to a deeper walk with Him. What passages in the Bible would you like to read through and study this year? What does God want you to accomplish in the next 50 weeks that will make up the year 2013?
Now, as you think about this question I would challenge you to write down your thoughts. You can do this like you would do your brain storming exercise in English class in High School. Ask yourself the question and then write down anything that comes into your mind. Dream. Ask God to show you and then just start writing. I can guarantee you that you will probably not do all the things that you write down on your list. I can be most assured that you will not even try to get all of those things done; but the object of this exercise is to just get your brain thinking about what you could do; and what God may want you to do.
When you have your list written take some time ( a day or two – perhaps the weekend) to pray about what God would have you to do. Ask God what He would have you to do.
While you are in this time of thought and evaluation it would be good for you to write down a list of all the different job responsibilities and titles that you have. Then you are able to effectively think about each one of the roles that you live and what you feel God would have you accomplish in each area of your life.
Here are some of the roles that were on my list: Wife, Mother, Church Member, SIDS America Counselor, Neighbor, Sister, Daughter, Friend, Homemaker, Student etc. Your list will be different than mine; but hopefully you get the idea. Think about all the different phases of your life and ask God, “What would you have me to do as a wife this year? Or as a Mother? “ I asked myself the question, “What type of church member does God want me to be in 2013?” As I asked that question I started thinking about the different areas of ministry that God has available for me through my local church.
It is amazing how beneficial this can be for a parent who is in the midst of grief. God wants us to see the big picture. He wants us to focus on the fact that His plan for our lives was not done the day our baby died. No, He has a purpose and a plan and a course for our lives even in the midst of suffering. I would say almost assuredly that Christian’s in this life who have the most impact on others are those who have gone through loss and allowed God to heal and mold them. God does not want us to waste our trials on self pity and introspection. God has a bigger plan than that.
So the challenge is there. Take this week and look at all of your roles. All the areas of your life and ask yourself the question: “What would God have me to do in this area in the next year?” Don’t be afraid to think big and ask God to lead you as you think about this.
Here are some questions to help you as you think about the next year.
How can you take steps forward in your walk with the Lord?
What passages of the Bible do you plan on reading this year? Will you read through the Bible in the next year? What passages have you always wanted to study; but never found the time?
Are you faithful in attending and participating in a local Bible believing church that will challenge and strengthen your walk with God? If not, what steps do you need to take to become part of this wonderful gift of God called the local church?
What can you do in the next months to impact the lives of others? How much time could you volunteer to help impact the lives of others? (a neighbor, a shut in, a children’s hospital, etc)
Are you sharing the love of God with others? Are you talking to others about a God who loves them and wants them to know how much He loves them? How could you do this in the next several months?
How does God want to use you in your relationship with your spouse? How can you be an encouragement to your spouse?
What are some things you can do this year to strengthen the ties you have with your other children?
What are some personal goals you can have that will enable you to be?
Next week we will take some time to examine how to bite off into little pieces the things that we feel that God would have us to do. So, get your list written and join us next week as we continue moving forward in this area of planning and living our lives during this New Year – even when we are grieving.