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Fresh Starts: Starting Over

As is often the case, my family and I went on a trip to New York City this summer to visit family, and just unplug for a while. As is also often the case, I went into the city for a day by myself. As a naturally introverted person, and as one married to someone who hates cities, this arrangement seems to work out well for everyone. I get a little bit of alone time, Sarah doesn’t have to go into the city, and everyone walks away happy!

One of my biggest goals as I bounce around New York each year is to try to not look like a tourist. For one thing, I don’t want to have my wallet stollen, and I’m told that looking like a dweeb makes you easy prey. But also, I just hate looking dumb. It’s unfortunate, because it happens all the time.

Case in point: on this most recent trip to New York, I was trying to find my way to a specialty cycling store in the city. I had to use a combination of a ferry, a subway, and walking to get there. Luckily, Saint Steve Jobs helped me out there by putting all the necessary apps right in my pocket to make navigating such terrain possible. I have the power of the same system that guides the US Navy. What could possibly go wrong?

I’ll tell ya what could go wrong. A goofball who forgets how to read a map, even with GPS readily available, that’s what could go wrong. And so at three or four points along the way in my journey, I found myself walking down a crowded street only to recognize that I was going the wrong way.

There are several moves one can make in this moment:

1) Turn around. This will feel more ridiculous than it sounds. Surely someone will notice if in the dead middle of the sidewalk, staring down at my phone, I just do a 180 and walk the other way out of the deep blue nowhere. What if the person behind me had been following me? What if they knew what a big goofball I was? I would look like a tourist. No, this option seems unacceptable.

2) Make a loop. Oddly enough, this seemed like the more sensible choice. This city is a huge grid, so if I just keep making lefts I’ll eventually get turned around, right? I mean sure, this is going to add an easy 10-15 minutes to my day. But I won’t look dumb in front of strangers.

I think inside of all of us (though maybe not expressed with such lunacy) is a desire to not look foolish, and sometimes it feels like starting over is rather foolish. It’s funny when you’re talking about walking the wrong way down the street, but gets a bit more intense as we study the different areas of our lives. Starting over in a new line of work? Definitely don’t want to look foolish there. Starting over after a rocky divorce? Law firms make an insane amount of money to make sure folks don’t look foolish. Starting over after a loved one passes? You see where I’m going here.

The truth is, life presents us with a whole bunch of opportunities to start over. And in fact, a lot of times starting over is really healthy and beneficial. The whole crux of our faith is that while God’s creation had fallen apart, God’s love started over through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the already-but-not-yet citizens of the kingdom, I think we are at our best when we recognize the right times to start over. When we’ve fallen into sin far too deep, it’s time to start over. When we’ve stopped being honest with our God and with ourselves, it’s time to start over. When we keep running into the same creative blocks again and and again, it’s time to start over.

So yes, this post serves to remind us that we’re starting this little blog of ours over. And I’m actually really excited about that. Because when you start over, you open yourself to new creativity and possibility in the world and in the kingdom. But my encouragement to us this week is to ask where else we need to start over. Where do you need the love and guidance of God to help you with a fresh start?

Next Week: How to Make a Clean Break.

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