Where to go in the Bible when you find yourself starting over

Ashley Thrift

The words “starting over” fill us with fear and excitement. Starting over is hard and emotional. 

When we start something new — whether it be a new job, a new location, or a new marriage — our questions and concerns are the same: What do I do? How do I do this? Will I mess up? What will others think/say? 

Years ago, my husband and I went through some turmoil. We needed a do-over, to say the least. I was hopeful because I was determined. I wanted our marriage to work, and I was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. 

... we had a decision to make: Start over together or start over individually.

Where I felt lost was this: I had to be the wife I had never been before to have the marriage we had never had before. We got married at 20 and 21. We made many mistakes along the way. But there finally came a point where our mistakes caught up with us, and we had a decision to make: Start over together or start over individually. 

For us, starting over together was the only answer. I was both scared and excited. Scared because I didn’t know how or what to do to make it better. Excited because we were getting another chance to do it right. 

Finding Strength in Scripture

Starting over is unpredictable. But in the Bible, we see story after story of people starting over. The same words God spoke to them back then can give us strength today. 

• When you’re rethinking how you think, read Romans 12:1-2

Paul, the writer of Romans, grew up a rule follower. He was on track to be one of Israel’s religious leaders when he met Jesus on a dusty road and his whole world changed. He stopped going by Saul and became Paul. He stopped killing Christians and became one of them. Talk about starting over! 

Everything Paul thought he knew about God changed when he met Jesus. He began to embrace a new perspective and let go of some of the rules that ruled his life. 

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul urges the church in Rome to let their relationship with Jesus transform their lives as well: “... Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

• When you find yourself going back to familiar patterns, read Ephesians 4:23-24

As Paul traveled the Mediterranean rim, teaching and preaching, he met a lot of people. Some, like Paul, experienced an immediate change in perspective. Some, like many of us, struggled with the newness of it all. 

Our old ways of doing things don’t apply anymore.

In Christ, we are not who we used to be. And some days, we have to remind ourselves of that fact, just like Paul reminded the church in Ephesus: “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24). 

Our old ways of doing things don’t apply anymore. And as unsettling as that might be, it’s actually a good thing. 

• When you’re not sure what God is up to, remember Jeremiah 29:11.

If anyone knows how it feels to wonder what God is up to, it’s Jeremiah. 

Jeremiah had a tough job. He was a prophet at a time when God’s people weren’t that interested in what God had to say. Jeremiah was often ignored or ridiculed, and sometimes, imprisoned. But despite all that, Jeremiah kept delivering God’s message to the people no matter how harsh or how little sense it made at the time. 

In one of His messages, God reminds His people, and us, that all of the things we face will ultimately work together for our good. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). 

• When you find yourself wishing for the way things used to be, flip to Isaiah 43:18-19

When life gets hard, it’s easy to look back at the past and think: Man, things were simpler then. 

This isn’t a new problem. As far back as the late 600s and early 700s B.C., God’s people found themselves looking back when circumstances were tough and longing for days of old. God sees all of time from beginning to end, and He tells us the same thing He told Israel back then: “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18-19). 

Starting over is never easy. But give your concerns to the Lord. He will guide you every step of the way. Let starting over be a new start to a good thing. It definitely was for my husband and me!

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