Starting Over

It is interesting how the things that people say can impact you in different ways. I read this F. Scott Fitzgerald quote yesterday and it got me to thinking.
"Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist, but the ability to start over."
Have you ever been faced with the challenge to start all over? Ever change jobs? Move to a new city? Get divorced? When I think about starting over I think about changes. So I thought that I might share a few of the times that I have started over and lessons that I learned along the way:
  • 1968-1970 :: Enlisted in the Army: I moved into the rude awakening called adulthood and learned that I was not as special as I believed I was - the army has that affect on people.. at first it is a humbling experience.
  • 1971 :: Got married, left the military and moved back to New York: My life completely changed in just a few months. I began to learn how to share my life with another.
  • 1972-1974 :: Started a career with AT&T, bought my first home and watched my young wife go blind: I learned that I had a strength and resilience that I had never tapped. Those years marked me in deep and significant ways.
  • 1975 - Transferred to Houston, Texas and watched my wife be healed of blindness: I learned about a spiritual realm that I had never known about.
  • 1976-1979 :: Experienced the reality of a spiritual birth and began a career in computer programming in Kansas City: I learned that God loved me and had a plan for my life - no cliché intended.
  • 1980-1989 :: My son and daughter were born; life was sweet: I learned about a love and joy that I did not know existed. Having children is such a blessed experience.
  • 1990-1994 :: My wife had heart and kidney failure, suffered for four years and passed away: I experienced something called grief and began to learn that my brain was inadequate to deal with intense pain.
  • 1995-2002 :: Experienced the joy of marriage again, retired from AT&T, began to deal with personal health problems and was laid off from EDS: I learned that middle age was a lot different than I expected and that I would have to trust God in a way that was different when I was younger and healthier.
  • 2002-2008 :: My wife was disabled by a wicked neurological disease; I left Corporate America and accepted a pastoral position: I am still learning these lessons: pain is something I need to process with my heart and not my brain; pastoring is not always about ministry and sometimes about the business of church; sometimes the needs of "the one" trumps the needs of "the many".
  • 2009-today :: I retired from the church staff and moved to a loft in downtown Kansas City: I am still learning and relearning these lessons - trusting the Lord is not a cliché.. marital communication is necessary for marital health.. mercy trumps judgment every time.. I need people in my life.. hope keeps me alive.
Thanks for hanging in there as I reminisced. I did not include many of the "start overs" of my life that included new homes, new jobs, new churches, new friends and many other new experiences. Did not include all the lessons - who could abide such a recounting? 

I think that starting over can be a blend of  both the positive and the negative.. perhaps change is never really black or white? Maybe change tests us more than we realize? Perhaps  starting over is the only way to move us out of our comfort zones.

Care to share one starting over experience with me in the comments?


  1. Of course, we all have these 'start over' events in our lives.

    Just three days after we got married, 45+ years ago, after the sweet first days of our lives together, our new, beautiful, trailer home was washed away in the '65 flood of the south Platte river in Denver. We had purchased that trailer because 'we were never going to live with someone' after WE got married.

    I guess our Lord had to teach me some humility too. We lived with other people for 13 weeks before we got out home back.

    We lived in that home for 7 years before we purchased our first brick home.

    Thank you for the opportunity to remember.

  2. In August of 1978 I believed the Spirit of God was leading me into the ministry and to bible college. My wife and I sold everything we had a yard sales until all we had left would fit into a 4x6 UHaul trailer - bible, clothes, dishes, pots & pans for her, my two oldest daughters, and myself and we moved from San Jose, CA and all that we knew to Los Angeles.

    We stayed with one of my wife's aunts until I got a job as a security guard in downtown LA and we were able to rent a two bedroom duplex. There while working 40 hours a week, go to school for 12 credits (full time) we started over by one piece at a time buying furniture and household goods. We had Christian friends around us that helped us, we had wonderful fellowship, and the Lord was so good. When my job failed, He provided a better one, when our car threw a rod on Kellog Hill, He led a fellow student to give us his second car, when the refrigerator was empty, he led my boss to fill our freezer and refrigerator. I wouldn't trade those days of starting over for anything. Walking by faith is the hardest thing to do but it is the most spiritually rewarding and fun thing one can do as a believer.

  3. Well, I have started over by moving to Kuwait. Sold 94.5% of my "stuff" and headed out, with my wife, for a new adventure.
    But Bob, reading your moved me, brother. I can't help but think we may have crossed paths somewhere down the line. The great thing is EVERY Christian will cross paths someday!
    I was in the Army in '69 - '71 stationed in Germany.
    My home town is Houston where after I returned from the Army, I worked at the Houston Post as an artist.
    I moved to Dallas and also worked at EDS in Plano. I lived in many little towns in Texas. Last place was McKinney, north of Dallas.

  4. 1996 - got divorced, the surprise of my life. I looked at a life in a different place, renewed emphasis on a career, hope of a family essentially gone, distrust a habit, fear of not being in control constant. It wasn't a good starting over. I don't even remember my mindset for the first couple of years, what I did for fun, how I coped. Phoned it in, mostly.

    2001-2002: Finding faith in Jesus Christ for real, completely accepting, all-in, no matter whether it was embarassing or inconvenient. What a change! Things in my life didn't get a whole lot better, but I looked at everything differently, and still do. Hope and true joy underpin everything, even tense and sad parts. Changed the balance of my friendships as I made new, Godly friends - that was a little difficult, since old friends and family didn't and don't know exactly what to make of me.

    Since the one sort of led to the other, I can only thank God that His Glory can be praised at all times, in all places, no matter how ragged my voice sounds.

  5. Your recap reminded me of todays Imonk article on the true source of spiritual growth...suffering.

    In 1995 I moved my young family from the south to Pheonix, after dreaming and training church planting for two years, within six months the hidden problems of the group that hired us blew up in our face and we wondered if we were going to be abandoned out west.

    History is not pretty, but God is faithful.

  6. A great way to say that Don. Sometimes history is pretty ugly. Yet sometimes a flower blooms in the desolate places.


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