How do you start over?

Whether you are starting fresh on a goal, a project, a new city, your health, or with a relationship, starting over is hard, isn’t it? It’s not easy at first, but it can be an unexpected blessing.

Rejection can turn into rejoicing, and broken pieces can be made into something better. Much better. Here’s the story of why I have to start over on my book that I posted on Facebook last Friday, and a few tips for starting over below.

Three Tips for Starting Over:

1. First, let the dirt be dirt. Moving forward means letting go of something first. So, whatever it is that has caused you to start fresh, FEEL your feelings! Feel them and also know that feelings are real, but they do not define who we are. Feeling like a mess doesn’t mean you are one. I cried pretty much the whole weekend after I got the email from my editor. My tears were waves of grief about the time I had spent working on those words—time I could have spent working on different words, or with my little ones. I felt anger, disappointment, rejection, shock, and sadness. These emotions weren’t fun to experience, but they were needed. Little by little, the tears turned into trust and refreshment. Now, there are far deeper pains I could reference here that I’ve experienced in my life—pain that took much longer than a weekend to process (the pain of miscarriage, divorce, marriage hardships, etc.). One enemy of moving forward—a sure way to stay stuck—is to think your feelings don’t matter and should be stuffed away. Don’t compare your struggle to someone else’s, or label it “small.” Your struggle, whatever it may be, is real, and worth working through. Sometimes, moving through the “minor” struggles helps us build momentum to move forward through the big ones. Feel what you are feeling. Name it. Let it be what it is without trying to fix it. Let the dirt be dirt.

2. Step away. I don’t know about you, but when a challenge arises, I stew. I mull. I analyze. I get anxious. I want to fix it as soon as possible. Anyone else?? Stepping away to gain some perspective may seem like an inactive step, but it may be the best step you take. Mid-tears Ari told me to get in the car. He loaded up all the kids and we drove around the lake by our house. It was incredibly helpful. We prayed. We talked. In the thick of it, stepping outside for a breath of fresh air can be a turning point. It’s like planting a small common acorn that can grow into a strong oak when nestled in the mess of dirt.

3. Let grace speak louder that guilt. I realized in starting over that this book is about my weakness, not my strength. I don’t have to write powerful words, or have a stellar outline. I just need to let myself be weak and let those words hit the page. I don’t have to fix it all, do it all, or be it all. If God is in your fresh start, you can be sure He will do the heavy lifting. I trust that. If your fresh start feels impossible—too big for you to orchestrate–maybe it is too big for you. But we can always trust that where we can’t, He can. Let’s be weak, sisters. It’s so much easier than chasing perfect. Let’s let Him speak loud–over all the guilt and junk that’s trying to keep us from moving forward on to fresh new growing ground.

Are you starting over in something? What’s have you been wrestling with?

P.S. I’d love to hear from you here too!

11 Show Comments
  1. skylar caitlin

    Lara, what a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your “mess” with us. What you said about the peonies growing through the dirt really struck a nerve, as did when you wrote “feeling like a mess doesn’t mean you are you.” Just want I needed to hear this Monday afternoon. Thank you for being raw and real and sharing with us.

  2. Stacy

    I have this blog in my ‘Bookmark Bar’ – I had come here to get a new desktop background, trying get a new start on work, stalling. And there it was in the middle – “How to Start Over”.

    I am in the process of leaving my job (have been for almost 7 months – is that even possible?). I know I need the fresh start that a clean break from work would provide but this post made me realize I need a mini start-over . I have been holding on to the feelings of hurt , anxiety, and stress this job induces in me and it is time to let it go. To allow everything to be, accept it, and put it down so I can finish this chapter of my career on a strong high note. Thanks, Lara.

    P.S. – You are definitely NOT the only one to freeze on challenges; my husband calls it the ‘Bambi on the frozen lake” phase.

  3. india

    I’m kind of “starting over” in my book, too! I need to do another rough draft before its finished, and its frustrating but I know that this way, my book will be in the best shape! I know it’s the same for you. Hang in there! <3

  4. Bethany

    I’m starting over in ministry! I’ve been passionately serving in a particular ministry for several years and have always felt called to it. But recently it has undergone some changes, and my life has undergone some changes, and this summer/through early fall, I am praying through my role in it. I either need to change how I serve in it, or perhaps decide o stop serving in it in this season of life. Both would be hard for me, and I want so badly to be in control. But I need to serve as God calls me and leads me, and I want to hold it all loosely in the hands so that God might glorify Himself in and through me, even if it doesn’t match up with my (flawed!) idea of how things should go.

  5. The Weekender: Vol. 20 | Happy Heart and Home

    […] How to Start Over – ” ‘Don’t compare your struggle to someone else’s, or label it “small.” Your struggle, whatever it may be, is real, and worth working through. Sometimes, moving through the “minor” struggles helps us build momentum to move forward through the big ones.’ “ […]

  6. Kady

    Oh Lara, your words are such a blessing to me right now. I feel the tug of my heart again saying maybe the direction I’m going instead the direction meant for me at all. I feel quite lost and forlorn wondering what I am supposed to do – I feel the tug in every which direction and am afraid to take first steps out of the fear of taking the “front first steps.” I don’t want to follow myself – I want to what He destines me to do but am unsure how to tune out my heart and the world’s influence and focus on His words.

    Your courage and grace in starting over inspires me, as you always have.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  7. Michele

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. I am starting over in a relationship in a way. In that, we haven’t been doing things the way God has called us to live, and we want to ‘start fresh’ and live out what he is calling us to. We want to honor God in our relationship and make sure it is the best, healthiest, and God centered it can be. Your words inspired and directed my perspective.
    Thank you.

  8. jane

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. It brought tears to my eyes. I read your blog when I feel a hopeless..

  9. Ellie

    I needed this today. I am at the end of a year long job search process, with no new job. I planned, prepared, and used my Powersheets to incrementally work towards the application and interviews of this last semester.
    22 applications. 9 first round interviews. 2 finalist interviews. No job.
    Today, I am feeling all the feelings you described, and more. I am grieving.
    But next, I am going to take a step away and wait for something to happen that I haven’t planned or prepared. It’s out of my hands.

  10. Katie @ A Place to Dwell

    Hi, Lara! I found this post today, and it was just what I needed to read. Thank you for the encouragement to FEEL my feelings, but also to let go and step away and not feel like I have to figure everything out and fix it on my own. I keep hearing Him say “be still and know that I am God…lean not on your own understanding, but lean on ME. Trust ME. You have many hopes and dreams and plans, but you can trust Me to lead you and guide you down the best possible path for you.” So, I’m going to keep pressing in, accepting that where I am isn’t necessarily where I want to be right now, but that He has a good purpose, and it’s not up to me to figure out what that is. He’ll reveal it in His perfect time and way. Thanks for always being such a LIGHT, Lara! 🙂

  11. Jayne Dudley

    I loved what you had to say about starting over. I know your book will be wonderful!