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Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Chance for a Fresh Start

Last night, all around the world, there were people staying up late, celebrating, rejoicing, partying and enjoying fireworks and concerts and fun times together, with parades and football games today to continue the celebration.  

What was it all about?  

We got to turn the page on a calendar!  

Now we put down a slightly different number whenever we write the date.  In case you can’t tell, I’m not a person who thinks turning the page on a calendar is nearly as big a thing as is so often made of it each year.  I often get together with friends for the evening and we play cards until midnight, kiss our spouses and then call it a night.  Woo woo, huh?  But we enjoy it.

Some people use the date as a reason to make a fresh start, to take a second chance, to attack problems afresh with resolutions and plans.  They are ready and longing for something new.   That decision, of course, could be made at any time in our lives, and in the cases of some of our concerns, the sooner we work on them the better!  Still, there are times in life that are just naturally points of change, newness and fresh starts, some of which we like and others which we do not:  a wedding, the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one, a relocation or a new job.  Divorce is also one of those significant fresh start moments.

Someone who had just gone through a divorce finds themselves on the verge of a new phase in life, the design of which must they choose for themselves.  That can be challenging, exciting, troubling, frustrating, enraging, painful all of the above and even more, all at the same time.  I recently saw a television show in which some of the characters had been divorce, in this case about a year, and the ex-wife was frustrated because her ex would not “just move on,” a view which was also articulated by others in the show.  

“Just moving on” makes a nice idea, perhaps, but in many cases, that is simply very unrealistic.  The person longing to be out of the marriage may well be ready and pleased to be moving on and escaping to something new, such as a new partner, the freedom of singlehood, or safety from abuse.  But for the person who has felt shunned, abandoned or discarded, still in love with their spouse or finding their dreams for the future shattered, “just moving on” and “getting over it” is not such an easy nor quick task.

Nevertheless, no matter how you arrive at being divorced, and no matter how you feel about being there, you end up on the verge of a new phase of life and now must decide what to do with it.  Certainly some of that new phase will be consumed with working through the grief and emotional distress that accompanies the tearing of one’s heart in divorce.  Memories surface at inconvenient times, especially on holidays such as New Year’s Eve, and one must face the loss in order to effectively rebuild life.  But even in the face of such pain, the rebuilding process can be a very positive experience in life.

What do you desire to be the values by which you live?  What do you want your reputation to be?  What are the changes you long to make, the hopes and dreams you once had but have seemed to have gotten lost in the process of living?  Perhaps now is the time to revive those dreams and pursue a refined version for your future?  What are the challenges you have hesitated to embrace, but could choose to make priorities in the next chapter of your life?  What are the things you have longed to accomplish, the projects you want to complete, that have been on hold for too long?  Why not make some plans to do some of those now?  

Most of all, what might God be beckoning you to in this time of life?  What wounds does He desire to heal, what character traits does he seek to build or reinforce?  What might be the ministries God has planned for your future, and how might you use this time to prepare for them?  No matter where you are in life, as long as you are still living here on earth, God is not done yet, he still had plans for your life and ways that he longs to use you.  Whatever other plans you make, be sure to make these the central concern.   And then go, make 2017 a Happy New Year for real!

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