Starting Over When All Seems Lost

For 14 years I’ve done one thing, church ministry. That is almost half of my life dedicated to something that truly gave me energy, joy and purpose. In a matter of weeks, I watched as that was taken from my hand’s piece by piece. Not only did I lose that, but I lost a large part of my community, family life and possessions. 3 months on and there is still an incredible heartache and grief over the loss. As I sit here in a quiet and dark room, alone, I feel the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes as I grieve what has been lost. It can be incredibly hard to see what you still have, and the meaning or purpose of your life when you experience a loss like this. But staying in this place was and is never going to be an option. I would die here if that were the case. No! Picking myself up and dusting myself off is the way forward.

Ahead, on the horizon, there is the light of hope. It’s not always easy to make out, but if I choose to, I can see it. The daunting and painful task now is venturing through this dark and rocky terrain that is directly before me and moving forward from the dark and rocky terrain that is behind me. Ahead is a journey of learning to love and believe in myself again, navigating decisions of what to do with my life, allowing myself to properly love (because man wasn’t created to be alone – and I ain’t getting any younger), and keeping my mind in a healthy place. Each of these are my next steps in starting over.

When the dream of Fresh Church began in my heart over 6 years ago, the mandate that kept coming up was “Everyone needs a Fresh Start”. I still believe that is true. I just never thought I’d be the one needing a Fresh Start like this. It’s still my heart’s cry though. I still believe this is my mission, both notes personally, but also to help others get to. But starting over means that while many meaningful tasks, people, events, moments and more are lost, there a new things to be found, new purpose to discover, new relationships to be formed, new memories to be made.

Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13-14 “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Pressing on doesn’t sound easy. It’s not light work. Pressing is hard. Pressing is effort. Pressing is sweat-inducing force. But keeping your eyes on the goal you will receive the prize.

The problem is when starting over, we look at the daunting path ahead and it becomes overwhelming. Most of the time the overwhelming part is people related too – either yourself or others. I mean I look at some of the things I know I need to do in this next season and my fears of the dark immediate future are all related to the dark immediate past. First I’ve got to deal with myself, and learn to love me and be proud of me. That’s a hard one and one that causes anxiety and panic attacks still. Second, I’ve got to navigate my future without care or concern about what others think. “What will people say if I start an independent faith community? They’ll think I’m unqualified. I’ll be criticised. Can I handle that?” Who cares!? Fix your eyes on the light ahead not the darkness. “What if I do begin a relationship, will more people leave me? How will that affect some people? Will people judge me?” Keep your eyes on the light ahead not on the immediate darkness. “If I start enjoying myself will people think that’s insensitive to the mess it seems I’ve left behind?” Look to the light, you need to get your mind to a healthy and thriving, joyful place.

So that’s my decision. I’m getting up, fixing my gaze to the light in the distance and walking there. I’ll venture the dark and daunting trials ahead filled with questions and worries and threats and traps and falls. But I’ll make it through.

My encouragement to you if you feel like all seems lost and you are in a season of starting over; you can make it through too! Don’t look back at what was, don’t look at the dark and rocky terrain ahead that you are going to have to press through. Look to the light off in the distance, make a list of the things you are scared to face but that you know you need to, and start walking. Let the knowledge that a new and brighter day is coming be the thing that gives you the energy to press on and start over when all seems lost.

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