Yes, 2014 is right around the corner. Interestingly, a new year always brings plenty of old things: old intentions to exercise more, eat more healthy foods, spend money more wisely, you name it. It’s a pretty sure bet that most resolutions and ‘new starts’ involve the body or money. But what about other areas of life? How about focusing on a different part of life? If we want to truly branch out into new territory for this new year, what if we consider:
- Our parenting. It might seem counter-intuitive to try to manage or plan our parenting because more than in any other area of life, things “just happen”. But it might be wise to rethink that idea. We might not be able to plan our kids’ actions and reactions, but a parenting plan is more about our responses than our child’s. We can start by evaluating what went well and what made us cringe in 2013. Did we yell too much? Was our discipline inconsistent and haphazard? Did we not spend enough time listening to and trying to understand our sons and daughters? Did we too often feel caught off guard, without an appropriate, effective response to situations that arose? Are we woefully uninformed about our child’s world, especially if we have teenagers? Well, these are all areas which we can address with a parenting plan. Decide where you need to focus your attention, find a scripture that can encourage and remind you of your goal, and build a plan around that. This doesn’t have to be a five-page military-grade document. Start with three to five points you want to address, and go from there. Find resources to instruct and educate you in the areas you selected. And presto, you’re on your way!
- Our prayer life. Prayer is so critical to our lives. Too many prayer possibilities often leaves us almost paralyzed with indecision about exactly what to pray for, and how. There are various ways to tackle this: pick a particular topic and learn more about it–for example, learning the differences between the types of prayer mentioned in the bible; become more intentional with specific times to pray, establishing a solid routine; set a goal of finding a group to pray with; deciding to keep a prayer journal; praying in a different type of way–for example, singing prayers or practicing contemplative prayer. As we become more deliberate about our prayer life, God will reveal Himself in surprising and unforgettable ways…count on it.
- Our personal, inner life. Paying attention to what’s happening on the inside of us can yield amazing dividends. Emotional and mental health are still too taboo in Christian circles. We can break out of the confining mold of secrecy and shame by purposefully setting goals in this area of our lives. We are under tremendous pressure for varying reasons; learning to build emotional and mental agility, intelligence, and resilience are paramount to effectively functioning for our vocations, our families, and our ministries. Ask the Lord to show you an area that needs shoring up, tearing down, or restoring. Maybe there’s unaddressed simmering anger, perhaps a persistent sadness and hopelessness that interferes with joyful living, or it could be a toxic mental paradigm that short-circuits an accurate perspective on life, love, and God. We can decide to work on any of these issues in 2014.
A new year holds out promise and potential. We can take advantage of all that it offers by focusing on making progress in areas of life that we might never have considered including in our new year planning. Let’s give it some thought, pray about it, and see how God leads.
Wishing all of you the absolute best God has for you in 2014!