Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing? Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
I have a confession to make. I’m not really good at new beginnings. I like routine. I like structure. I like having a plan and sticking to it. In fact, I really related to Bilbo in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He’s a homebody and clearly isn’t too fond of doing anything out of the ordinary. One of my favorite dialogues in a movie took place between him and the great wizard Gandalf:
Gandalf: “I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”
Bilbo: “I should think so—in these parts! We are plain, quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them … “
While there are certainly benefits to living a quiet life, (it’s stable, predictable and dependable), there are also some down sides. It’s easy to get in a rut, to lose out on possibility, become isolated and stunt your growth as a person. In fact, Gandalf’s response to Bilbo is perfect:
Gandalf: “You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back.”
Bilbo: “You can promise that I’ll come back?”
Gandalf: “No. And if you do, you will not be the same.”
I talk myself out of new adventures frequently. My reasoning is typically something along the lines of, “I don’t have enough time,” or “I’m too tired,” or “I am not qualified to do that.” Whatever the excuse, there usually is one. And sometimes, I regret that I didn’t step out in faith, in confidence and in knowing that a new beginning may be painful at first, but it’s exactly what I need.
I know there are places where I really need a new beginning. One area in particular is how I think about my life. As a little girl, I didn’t daydream about growing up, getting married and then ending up divorced. I didn’t create a vision board that showed a story of destruction. But divorce and destruction are very real parts of my story. I can’t change that, but I can change how I think about them and what I do with those parts of my life.
I love Isaiah 43:18-19. I love how the passage starts with instruction. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Why do you think the instruction is then followed by two questions: 1. “See, I am doing a new thing? 2. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” I think it’s because focusing on the past ~ the pain, rejection and disappointment, makes it impossible to see and feel the new beginning, even when the new beginning is beautiful.
So, the question for all of us is whether or not we really want a new beginning? Are we willing to be changed, like Bilbo, by the adventure? If so, what are the keys to going forward? I believe they are:
- Don’t keep looking backward with regret. Repent for anything you need to repent for. Ask God to heal your heart. And make an effort to stop the past from continually playing in your mind. When those images, thoughts, memories or feelings hit you, tell them to stop and change the mental channel to a different station. If you have to physically get up and do something different, do it.
- Ask yourself: “If I don’t make any change at all this year, how am I going to feel on December 31st at midnight? Am I going to feel like it was a great year and I made the most of it, or am I going to feel like I wasted another year of my life?”
- Start small. What’s one new thing you can do? Is it a new thinking pattern, a new activity, or getting rid of something unhealthy in your life? Remember that any change begins with the choice to make the change happen and then following through with action.
I’m committed to a new beginning this year and I am excited to seeing it unfold. I hope you will commit to your own new beginning and growing with me.