No matter how you feel about starting over — whether you’ve been pushed into a fresh start or you’re eagerly chasing something new — you’ll need buckets of hope, inspiration, and faith. And if you don’t have an ocean of God to draw from, you’ll drown in setbacks, disappointments, and frustrations.
This is my first article on my new blog, EchoingJesus.com. And it’s the perfect example of staying hopeful while starting over! I spent three whole days setting up this new website, planning my articles, and brainstorming different approaches to echoing Jesus. Then I wrote this article (originally called “3 Ways to Guarantee Success When You’re Starting Over”).
When I woke up today, the whole website disappeared. I had the top image header (the cross will never disappear!) but I lost everything else. I had to completely re-install WordPress and totally re-do three days of work. I’ve been blogging for over ten years, and I’ve never lost a website before. I started my “Adventurous Writer” blog family in 2008 (my most popular one was called Quips and Tips for Love and Relationships, and is now How Love Blossoms)…and this is the first time I lost it all.
Holding on to hope and faith when you’re starting over isn’t easy…even when you’re doing something you love. Even when you want to start over because you know you need to. Even when you believe Jesus is leading you into a new season, God is giving you strength, and the Holy Spirit is filling you with wisdom and power.
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It’s hard to start over.
What are you starting over in your life? How do you feel about it? Take time to think about the new beginning you’re facing. Acknowledge your feelings, let them sink into your heart and mind. The more aware you are of how you feel, the less power your feelings have to control you. And the more likely you’ll be to succeed.
Staying Hopeful When You’re Starting Over
“Echoing Jesus” is about gaining wisdom, strength and power from the prophets, priests and kings in the Bible. Their experiences and life lessons echo throughout the ages, and have direct relevance for us today. So does God — especially for believers who follow Jesus and listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice.
These tips on how to be successful when you’re starting over are inspired by King Uzziah’s reign in 2 Chronicles 26:1-15.
1. Define success for yourself
Even by today’s standards King Uzziah was incredibly successful, innovative, driven, strategic and smart. He succeeded as the king of Judah for 52 years; God was with him as he rebuilt and restored his people and land. In 2 Chronicles 26:14-15 Ezra writes, “Uzziah provided the entire army with shields, spears, helmets, armor, bows, and slingstones. He made skillfully designed devices in Jerusalem to shoot arrows and catapult large stones for use on the towers and on the corners. So his fame spread even to distant places, for he was wondrously helped until he became strong.”
Be clear about what “success” means to you. If you want to guarantee success when you’re starting over, you need to know what you mean by “successful.” What does it mean to you to succeed? You don’t have to conquer armies like King Uzziah or start a blog about Jesus (though How to Start and Sustain a Popular Christian Blog is a good place to start if you want to write). You don’t have to become famous, make lots of money, or even be noticed by your boss or family. If you define success as pursuing your dreams, following the Spirit and walking forward if faith even if you don’t know what you’re doing or how to start over, then you are already successful. Find the joy in the journey instead of measuring your success by what other people think, have, or do.
2. Hear the echoes of King Uzziah
“He did what was right in the Lord’s sight just as his father Amaziah had done,” writes Ezra in 2 Chronicles 26:3-5. “He sought God throughout the lifetime of Zechariah, the teacher of the fear of God. During the time that he sought the Lord, God gave him success.” My next article describes what happened to King Uzziah when he grew arrogant and walked away from God. But first, let’s join Uzziah as he enjoys 52 years of successful kingship! Uzziah sought the Lord and the Lord helped him succeed in ways he could never imagine. Ezra even tells us in verse 8 that God made Uzziah “very powerful.”
Humbly seek and follow God’s will when you’re starting over. Hark, the echoes of Jesus, King Uzziah, and the Holy Spirit are reverberating through history. They have reached your ears and touched your spirit. No matter how reluctant (or eager) you are to start over — no matter what you’re facing or who you have to deal with — you are guaranteed to succeed if you seek God’s presence above all else. You will enjoy the peace, freedom, love and joy that surpasses all understanding if you focus on God. This ties into my first tip for when you’re starting over: if you define success as a deeper, stronger and more exciting relationship with Jesus, then you are guaranteed to succeed. No matter what happens, you and He are walking forward together…and you’ll always have something to talk about.
3. Be creative and diversify
Here’s how smart this biblical king of Judah was: “Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, the Valley Gate, and the corner buttress, and he fortified them. Since he had many cattle both in the Judean foothills and the plain, he built towers in the desert and dug many wells. And since he was a lover of the soil, he had farmers and vinedressers in the hills and in the fertile lands.” King Uzziah built towers in the desert and in Jerusalem — and he sustained and fortified them. He dug wells, built machines, and strategically deployed an army of soldiers. Uzziah was successful because he didn’t focus on one thing.
How will you creatively diversify your interests? Here’s one of my favorite examples: if your spouse is your only source of friendship, emotional connection and social activity, then you will be devastated when you lose him. Grieving is heartbreaking when you have a large network of friends and family; it feels painful and impossible when you relied on your husband to meet all your needs. (If you’re grieving a similar loss, read Help Starting Over in Your 60s After Your Husband Dies). No matter what you’re starting over or how you feel about it, don’t focus too narrowly on one specific path, hope, or goal. For example, I’m starting this new blog — Echoing Jesus — and I’m starting school. I’m also starting to teach contemplative prayer to Christians, planning a trip to Quebec, and preparing for a silent retreat in a couple of months.
My three tips for starting over may not make me successful in the eyes of others, but they fulfill my definition of success. I’ve defined success for myself, am looking and listening for the echoes of Jesus in my life, and am diversifying my life. If something falls apart, I have lots to lean on.
How do you feel about starting something new in your life? Your thoughts — big or little! — are welcome below.
With echoes of Jesus,
P.S. Are you learning how to start over in the middle of your life? Read Starting Over With Confidence and Curiosity for Women 50+.