I don’t know about you, but for me, starting over on something is just about the worst thing that can happen. Fairly jarring examples of having to start over in my own life have included a college paper that I forgot to save on the floppy disk (that’s right, floppy disks rule!) and having to go back to Level 1-1 on Super Mario Bros. I have come to notice that there is a strong correlation between my negative feelings on starting over on a particular task and the amount of time and energy I have spent on that task. If that is the case, then starting over in the family arena seems especially difficult. Where do you spend more time and energy than on marriage and raising kids?
Starting over in the family can take many different forms: dealing with tragedies such as death or divorce, moving the family to a new city, or adjusting to life after the kids move out, to name a few examples. In each case, starting over often brings with it the temptation to fear. It could be the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, or even the fear of hard work. Often, instead of turning outward to God in these situations, we end up turning inward to ourselves. The result of such inward focus is inevitably more fear, greater anxiety, useless self-pity, and plain selfishness.
In the book of Ruth, Naomi had to start over after the tragic loss of her husband and two sons. She evidenced some of this inward self-pity:
She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (Ruth 1:20-21)
All that Naomi could see in that moment was the pain of loss and the difficulty of the future. She would have to start over, but what purpose could she have now?
Naomi did not abandon her faith in God, but her view of His character was incomplete. She forgot that God specializes in using the weak and unexpected people of this world to bring about world-changing purposes. She did not realize that starting over meant new opportunity for her and for her daughter-in-law, whom God had placed in her life. God would go on to use both of these women in their “starting over years” to play a vital role in establishing the line of King David, from which came the Messiah, the King of kings.
Maybe you are frustrated by having to start over in your family. Maybe you are feeling anxious about it. Maybe you even feel like you have already served your purpose in this life, and God has little use left for you and your family. I think God would have us to feel excited about starting over, because in a new situation God gives new opportunities to glorify Him in your family. Are you willing to take those opportunities?