As I sit in my comfy chair with a hot cup of coffee in hand, I am reminded that it’s the end of January. The end of a cold, drab January in Ohio. We haven’t seen the beautiful sunshine in nearly ten days. The spitting rains, snowy commutes, foggy mornings, and the dreary atmosphere have really started to dampen my spirits.
Winter is hard, hard for everyone. As a parent grieving the loss of her son, I find the winters to often be unbearable. I yearn for warmth and sunshine and new beginnings. I desperately want to run away from the cold of Ohio and find myself a reprieve in sunny Florida, but I am at a time in my life where that dream is not possible for me. Work and the responsibilities of home trump my ability to dash away to warmer climates. However, I crave change. I crave change, not only from the environment, but I also crave major changes in my life.
The new year often promises rebirth and new beginnings. New Year’s resolutions abound. Losing weight, managing finances, being a better friend, etc.; we all crave new beginnings. As I reflect upon this New Year and new beginnings, I come to realize that New Year’s resolutions are often destined to fail. Research suggests that nearly 80-90% of new year’s resolutions fail by the beginning of February. (Online Resource: New Year’s Resolutions Statistics & Trends 2023, Lark Allen September 13, 2023.)
You may ask yourself, “I have the motivation, the plan, and the tools to make this year’s resolution different than previous years – so why do I continue to struggle?” I would like you to consider a deeper dive into that question.
As a parent grieving the loss of a child, I find my ability and capacity for substantial change very difficult to obtain. I find that sometimes I use my grieving as a crutch and an excuse as to why I’m struggling to make changes. Yes, my grief can absolutely be the reason I struggle. But is it the only reason I often fail in sustaining my new year’s resolutions? That answer is no.
To make substantial change in my life, I need to influence the way my mind speaks to my heart. I need my mind to preach to my heart and encourage it to surrender.
What does it mean to surrender?
By Webster’s definition, one form of surrender means to stop fighting, hiding, and resisting because you know you won’t win or succeed. This is not the type of surrender I am referring to. Rather, by exploring the Biblical definition of surrender, a person gives up personal will and thoughts, ideas, and deeds to the will and teachings of a higher power (Wikipedia definition).
This type of surrender is to release control to obtain your highest potential. To surrender your heart is to unleash the shackles that are binding up your ability to change.
Since the death of your beloved child, how have you shackled your heart to protect yourself from other’s hurtful words? How have you created cement walls around your heart to protect it from further aches and pains? How have you stopped loving those special people in your life because the thought of losing another loved one is unfathomable?
In a sheer effort to protect itself, your heart can become calloused to risk, to change and ultimately to personal growth.
I challenge you to unleash the shackles by allowing the love of your Lord to be the foundation to your change. Yoke yourself with the Lord. When we are in union with Him, He helps us to carry the weight of our burdens. Relinquish control, stress, and grief and surrender it to the Lord.
Here are a few steps that can assist you as you begin to chip away at the concrete walls you may have built around your heart. Begin by taking your hand off the wheel and allowing God to take control. The most effective way to give God the wheel of your life is through prayer; personal daily prayer with your Lord. Allow His grace and mercy to speak to you. Spend a few quiet moments throughout your day in deliberate heart driven prayer. Ask for His guidance and direction. Allow Him to take the wheel.
Next, take a moment every day to acknowledge what aspects of your life are thriving. The darkness of grief can cause us to fail to see life’s beauty. Change the lens through which you are viewing your life. Deliberately find something that is beautiful and thriving every day.
One effective way to accomplish this is to keep a gratitude journal. Small little snippets of your soul jotted down on paper intimately reminds us how we are thriving. Daily gratitude can soften the grip of despair and enhance your ability to surrender your heart to the Lord.
Third, recognize that some obstacles and struggles you face could be detours propelling you in new and exciting directions. Growth can’t happen unless we change the path and trajectory of our hearts and minds. Lean into the fear. Lean into the unknown. Lean into the change. With God as your yoke, you are capable of a new life afresh with the power and ability to create massive growth.
For many of us, our New Years resolution is already a distant afterthought and another perceived failure in our lives. Don’t be forlorn. There are no rules stating that change can only happen as a resolution on January 1st.
Pick a day (any day) and ask the Lord to yoke with you as you surrender control and unleash the shackles of your heart. You are worthy of experiencing a successful New Years resolution, regardless of the day you choose to begin the journey of surrendering your heart to the Lord. Open your heart and relish your newfound growth.
Are you looking for a connection that will give you hope? Let author, speaker, podcaster and founder of Grieving Parents Sharing Hope (GPS Hope), Laura Diehl, send you her Weekly Word of Hope, delivered each Wednesday. (Your email address is safe with GPS Hope.)
Expressions of Hope is provided by Grieving Parents Sharing Hope (GPS Hope). The founders, Dave and Laura Diehl, spent five years traveling full time in their Hope Mobile (a 38-foot motor home) to be more easily available for speaking and ministry requests, and bringing intimate weekend retreats to bereaved parents. Laura is also a singer/songwriter, podcaster and the author of multiple award-winning books.
If you would like more information about bringing Dave and Laura to you for an event, please send an email to email@example.com.
If you are interested in bringing GPS Hope to your area for a weekend retreat click here.
- Check out the Grieving Parents Sharing Hope weekly podcast
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- If you are not a bereaved parent but want to support those who are, or want to follow us as we give hope to these precious parents, please connect with us at Friends of GPS Hope on Facebook.