Have you ever felt like you were headed in the right direction only to suddenly wonder if you’ve been going the wrong way the whole time? Or maybe you always knew you were headed off to no-man’s land but you just didn’t really care until now. Or perhaps you got sidetracked by a different goal or a bigger prize and after disappointment you forgot why you started out at all?
If any of these sound familiar, then I’m here to tell you you’re in very good company. Every single one of us will face dead-end roads and bad decisions and good dreams gone haywire. It’s just a part of the plan.
The good news is that every wrong road leads us to a righter one. Maybe not THE right one, but at least a better one than we just went down. Even when we’re starting over again, we never really start over at square one. Each experience gives us more knowledge, strength, courage and power than we had before.
Every failure gives us a greater chance to succeed.
Sometimes it’s exciting to think about starting over and we can’t wait to get started. But sometimes we don’t want to change – or we feel like it’s being forced upon us – and it feels really scary. But here’s the secret no matter which place you’re in: You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward. All you need to do is take the next right step.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started my life over again. How many times I’ve gotten sidetracked only to have to backtrack. Believe me, if failure was then endpoint then I’d have been well out of the game before I turned twenty-one. And that’s not counting silly kid stuff. For some reason God put this crazy, big-dreaming, impatient brain inside my no-idea-how-to-do-it-body and I swing and miss a lot.
And though I’m not immune to feeling down and sad about my disappointments (I do), I’ve also learned to get over them. And the more you fail, and the more you try and fail some more, the better you get at getting going again. It’s true. And sometimes? Sometimes I’ve learned that all you really need to do is stand.
Because if God has a plan for your life (which He does) then you can’t possibly mess it up so badly that He can’t redeem it. It’s His job. It’s His story. Every single one of us was made for a redemption story. That includes you, too. No matter how much you can’t see it right now.
So I just want to give you a little bit of encouragement. But while you’re knocked down on the ground, you might as well hang out for a minute and pray. The other day I fell flat on my face with tears streaming down and I didn’t even have words. But He knows. It’s that miraculous moment of Romans 8:26 when the Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray. You can’t possibly mess this up.
When you’re done, place your palms on the ground, come slowly to your knees and then stand. It’s going to be okay. Here are a few simple tips to help you start over:
Stop going in the wrong direction. Whatever roadblock, detour or dead-end has come take a minute to stop pushing through and wait. Stop making the same decisions that have taken you down the wrong path. Pay attention. What does this tell you about yourself? What can you learn?
Sometimes it’s the simple things, right? I’m learning it’s almost always the simple things. Take long, slow, deep breaths over and over again. Especially when you’re not sure what to do.
Ask for wisdom. Not one of us knows where we’re going or if the path we’re on will suddenly end. There are no guarantees in this life. But we can ask for wisdom. We can pray for discernment. Every day we can ask for Him to lead and guide our steps and help us get back up when we stumble. It’s called grace. And it’s free.
You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t just start. Start small; start simple. Don’t despise humble beginnings. It’s just how we grow. One baby step leading to the giant leap, to the cliff where we eventually have to trust Him enough to jump.
The best things aren’t complicated. They’re simple. If you’ve come to the end of one journey and are about to embark on the next, don’t be afraid. Don’t give up. If you’ve come this far I know you’ve at least got the strength to stand back up. Take a moment to get your bearings. Stop, breathe and pray. Then move. One brave, tiny step and then another. Soon you’ll look back and won’t believe how far you’ve come.