You’re starting fresh, hooray! But you’re having trouble adjusting after a rocky start, boo. Maybe you want to quit because it’s too hard. Don’t give up, my friend. A rocky start after a new beginning means you’re on the right track.
And you’ve come to the right place. My tips on how to adjust to a rocky start are inspired by a man we know and love. His name is Jesus Christ, and He isn’t just the King of the Jews…He’s the King of new beginnings, fresh starts, and rebirths that change everything. He knows what it’s like to deal with problems and setbacks, pains and heartaches. Jesus knows how tricky it is to start over, how confusing and unsettling. He’s been there and back; now He has the key to your future.
The most important thing to remember is that rocky starts are normal. You have to expect to run into problems, snares and pits of despair when you’re starting something new in your life. You have to count on setbacks and disappointments, frustrations and pains.
You may even run into death. Darkness, tragedy. Maybe even evil, hatred or bitterness. You’re starting something new, fresh and exciting in your life — which means your enemy the devil is prowling, looking for ways to bring you down and set you back. Don’t let a rocky start ruin everything. See it for what it is: an unexpected event that you need to adjust to. Keep it simple, know that you will adjust and this, too, will pass.
I can’t stress how important it is to stay hopeful when you’re starting over. You can’t adjust to a rocky start without hope, courage and faith.
3 Ways to Adjust After a Rocky Start – Matthew 2
Come, sit at the feet of the greatest man who ever lived. Here at Echoing Jesus, we practice hearing and applying His word to our daily lives. We just started Matthew; the first article was Your Purpose as a Child of God – Matthew 1. In this article — How to Adjust to a Rocky Start — I’ll share three ideas for adjusting after a rocky start.
We can’t really “echo Jesus” in these tips because He was just a newborn in Matthew 2! Well, I suppose we could echo Him if we were to cry like a baby, spit up formula, and mess up our diapers. So instead of echoing Jesus’ words, we’ll look at the events surrounding His birth. Talk about having to adjust to a rocky start — Mary and Joseph had their hands full. They kept going, though, and their lives are echoing today.
1. Pay attention to the voices you follow
Matthew tells us that after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him.” These wise men or magi may have been astrologers from Babylonia or Persia. They knew how to read the stars and traverse through the desert, over mountains and hills, through rivers and lakes. I bet they had more than one rocky start and had to adjust course several times! The wise men listened to the right voices, traveled for months to see the King of the Jews, and arrived in Jerusalem expecting to be told where Jesus Christ was. King Herod was pretty astute for an evil guy; he listened to these wise men and followed their cues. Joseph, too, listens to voices in Matthew 2. Look it up in your Bible, tell me what voices Joseph hears.
What voices are you listening to? I recently realized how many voices are in my head. I listen to podcasts, radio shows, Facebook, books, theology professors, Bible commentators, friends, family, neighbors, fellow believers, my Echoing Jesus readers (Echoers!), even my dogs and cat. The other morning I walked in the forest with nothing to listen to…and I couldn’t believe how many voices echoed in my head. So many voices, so many opinions and judgements, criticisms and compliments. The one voice I really want to listen to is the quietest, calmest, stillest voice of all: the Holy Spirit. One of the best ways to adjust to a rocky start is to pay attention to whose voice you’re listening to. And the best way to do that is go for a long, quiet walk and just listen. Learn whose voices you hear most often, what those voices say, and how you respond.
2. Expect goodbyes, losses, and rocky endings
Oh, the pain and grief in Matthew 2! We gloss over it at Christmastime when we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. We ignore it when we swoon over the manger, the little Mary and Joseph and cute animals at the inn. Do you know what happened to the other babies, the ones who weren’t safely tucked away with the lambs and the oxen? How do you think the Jewish mothers felt when the Roman soldiers came and killed their sons? Read Matthew 2:16-18. These were the very real, serious events that overshadowed Jesus’ birth. It wasn’t just goodbyes, losses, painful endings….it was death.
Remember that all new beginnings are filled with life and death. Are you struggling to adjust to a rocky start because of a disappointment, loss, or death? Maybe you’re not grieving the death of a friend or family member. Maybe you’re struggling because a friend or family member doesn’t understand what you’re doing or can’t support the new beginning in your life. Maybe you don’t know who to trust because too many voices are echoing in your head, too many losses and disappointments and endings. It’s hard. What helps me adjust to rocky starts is simply accepting the fact that all new beginnings come with pain. Giving birth, moving to a new home, starting a new job, entering into a new relationship, finding new friends…it’s hard. But if you keep reminding yourself that rocky starts are normal and grief is to be expected, you’ll find renewed hope and faith.
3. Listen for echoes of your future
Ready for some good news? I sure am! Read Matthew 2:19-23. How did Joseph adjust to the rocky start he and Mary faced on the way to Judea? What did baby Jesus do when Joseph said he was afraid? How did Mary deal with her own fears and grief at returning home to Israel, to see her fellow mothers whose babies were massacred by King Herod’s men? Oh wait a minute, that’s not good news. Sorry! See, I told you pain and grief has to accompany all new beginnings, fresh starts, and do overs in life. Here’s the bottom line: Mary and Joseph listened for and followed echoes of their future back home in Israel. They kept going despite the fear, uncertainty and grief.
What (and who!) are you fixing your eyes on? I had to adjust my plans for Echoing Jesus after several rocky starts. As soon as I’m finished writing this article, in fact, I have to deal with a few hiccups and problems with the header of this blog. I’ve had several false starts and ran into a few dead ends. Echoing Jesus crashed after the first week; I literally had to rebuild from the ground up. Okay maybe not literally from the “ground” but I really did have to redo everything. It hasn’t been the easiest blog to build, but I keep hearing echoes of Jesus. He’s calling me forward, encouraging me to keep going, and strengthening me through the Holy Spirit. I love the Holy Spirit! Ruach, in Hebrew. The wind, the breath, the spirit brings fresh echoes of the past and blows through my life. Ruach is echoing into the future, and I follow where He leads. And that makes adjusting to rocky starts easier and much more interesting!
How do you feel about my tips on how to adjust after a rocky start? What do you think, believe, agree or disagree with? Your comments — big or little! — are welcome below.
With echoes of Jesus,
P.S. For more tips on adjusting to a rocky start, read Starting Over When Life Knocks You Down – Blossom Tip 61.