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Wednesday, August 31, 2016
The Beauty of a Life Mulligan
Remember when you were a kid playing a game when you made some kind of mistake and needed a second chance? The way it was handled was often to call out, “redo” or “do over.” When a “do over” was granted, it was like the original effort no longer existed, you got to go back and start it up again.
Many folks in life wish they could have “do overs,” but life just doesn’t work that way. We can’t go back to our youth and remake choices we made then. We have been shaped by our past, and only have the option of dealing with the past effectively and moving forward. But every now and then, we get an opportunity that feels like a fresh start, or a second chance. Sometimes it comes our way through a move to a new location, other times via a new job, and then sometimes it is begun by simple forgiveness and choosing to refocus a relationship onto a new track.
One positive thing that comes out of the tragedy of divorce is that you end up with an opportunity for a fresh start. Though you may not have wanted a fresh start, and being forced into one it can be difficult to even see it as a positive thing, it can become a very special opportunity. As is the case with moving on from any difficult circumstance in life, it is important to not allow yourself to be so caught up with hurt and self-pity that you fail to see and take advantage of the chances you have for a restart in the direction of your life.
Yes, you may feel like you are having to start all over at a time of life when you have no desire to do so. I mean, who really wants to re-enter the world of dating when you are 45, for example?
Or you may have suffered a financial hit that has you in the hole having to catch up, maybe even having to restart a retirement account that was devastated in the process.
You may have had to move, though you did not want to, and you may find yourself needing to search for a new church home, or to develop new friendships. It can be very hard.
However, it can also be very exciting. You have the opportunity to choose exactly who you desire to be…mistakes you have made in the past or character flaws you feel you have allowed to take root need not be determining factors for your future. You can choose to set your life on a different course, to try a fresh route. You can develop new habits. You can decide to pursue more healthy relationships. You can alter the priorities of how you spend your time. Perhaps you will get remarried, and in doing so, choose a partner and a relationship style that is much more healthy than what you experienced before. Even your relationship with God can undergo transformation into something new and fresh. In many ways, this is the overarching theme of the second book in the Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce set…where the emphasis is that there is hope, there is a future, there is a tomorrow, and the challenge is to take hold of the opportunity for a fresh start and weave something good out of it.
This kind of positive shift often does not come automatically. Old habits die hard. Learning a new way to relate to others requires working on relationship skills. Practicing forgiveness and letting go of the past can be a challenging task demanding intense effort and focus. Learning to live with different priorities takes practice and sometimes lots of reminders. But the upshot is that you can end up in a totally different place in life, and come a lot closer to being the kind of person God designed you to be, with the kind of life that is most fulfilling for you. You can even choose to make yourself available for God to use in fresh ways by volunteering to lead a children’s group or work at a soup kitchen, or gather some friends you know are struggling so as to create your own Bible study and support group. Whatever you do, don’t waste the chance you have for something fresh!
In many ways, this is a strong parallel to what we experience in the invitation of Christ for our lives. Jesus invites us to a fresh start, to a second chance, to take part in a great “do over.” He can help us use the opportunities after divorce in the same way….when we respond to his invitation. A couple of scriptures come to mind, which I will share as a closing invitation to you, no matter what kind of fresh start you need in your life:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” --Matthew 11:28-30 NASB
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” --2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NASB