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How to Start Over When Life Gets in the Way

Man holding note about starting over after tough times

Your life is speeding along like a well-maintained sports car driving down the highway, when the thing called “life” happens. Suddenly the car begins to sputter. You steer off the road into a muddy, deep ditch. The engine stalls and you try to restart the car. Grinding but nothing else. You rest your head on your hands and ask, “What now?”

The Thing Called "Life"

The thing called “life” could be anything from a job loss to business failure, a personal bankruptcy to an unexpected career change, a painful divorce to a loved one’s death. When you find yourself in a deep personal ditch, it’s easy and natural for you to ask, “What now?”

Once you’ve faced the reality of losing a job, having a business fail, losing a loved one in a divorce or through death, it’s time to start over. Starting over can take different forms depending on the loss. Recovering from the loss of a job is quite different from recovering from the loss of a loved one. However, there some general thoughts to keep in mind.

Starting Is Looking Forward

Starting over is a matter of looking forward, not backwards on what you’ve done or what happened. And beginning anew does not mean everything will immediately change. Patience is required as you may have to take small steps, day by day, doing what needs to be done.

The prospect of starting over, adapting to a “new normal,” taking a new direction, often requires overcoming the fear of the unknown and stepping outside your comfort zone. You may have to find new friends, adapt to a new physical environment, or change the way you do things at home, at work, at play.

Overcoming the Fear of Starting Over

To offset this fear, starting over can be viewed as a time to seize new opportunities. But it requires lifting your hands off your head, prayerfully planning, and opening your mind, heart, and soul to God, who is always preparing new and better things for you. We have a tendency to focus on negative things that can happen, especially when we have one eye on the past.

Centering yourself in God’s Word, and seeking to discern his holy and true will in the morning and throughout your day, will help you think and act positively, expecting good things to happen.

Also read:

Listen to God's Words

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Also read: Job 11:13-20, Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 4:14

In the Words of Others

“Instead of saying ‘damaged, I’m broken, I just have issues,’ say I’m healing, I’m rediscovering myself, I’m starting over.” Horatio Jones

“Recreate your life, always, always. Remove the stones, plant rose bushes and make sweets. Begin again.” Cora Coralina

“Tomorrow when I awaken, the slate will be clean, and a new day will stretch before me. God's mercies are new every morning.” Lori Hatcher

Think About It

  • Have you ever had to start over after experiencing a major setback or loss? Describe the circumstances and how you were able to start over. What changes did you make?

  • Describe the obstacles and challenges you faced and had to overcome. How many times were you ready to give up?

  • Recall the role God played or could have played in your recovery process. What roles did prayer life, worship habits, and church community play?

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