I’ll never forget when we announced to our colleagues and friends that we were leaving our jobs in the city to move to my husband’s family farm.
We were stressed out and overworked, and at the pace we were running, we knew our family would eventually pay the price if we didn’t make a change. When I told my boss we were starting over, his jaw dropped so low it could have won a limbo competition. Co-workers chided us, saying we were throwing away our potential. Friends begged us to stay. True enough, we had respectable and exciting careers, along with built-in fun every Saturday night.
But we stuck a for sale sign in the yard, packed up a moving truck, and waved goodbye to a life that – for a while – had seemed like everything we’d dreamed of.
There were so many times in those first few months of starting over when I asked myself, “What if they were right? What if we’re making a mistake?”
It took me a lot of years to ask another question: “What if they were wrong?” Because they weren’t paying the price of burnout and stress. We were.
Here’s what I wish that someone would have told me back then:
You have permission to start over.
No matter how much pushback you get for leaving a good thing behind.
No matter how much time and money you invested in the life that is now dragging you down.
You have permission to start over.
There’s a lot of cultural resistance to starting over. The belief that you’re too old to begin again. That you’ll fall behind if you go back to square one. That you’re a “loser” if you throw in the towel.
It took me a long time to realize that starting over isn’t for losers. It’s for winners. Real winners know when to begin again. Real winners know when to walk away from something that isn’t working and move toward a clean slate. Real winners aren’t afraid to start over in a new career, a new health program, a new relationship, or a new friend group.
Do you need permission to start over? Here’s your permission slip.
Think now of Jesus’ early disciples and followers. You could say they got permission slips, straight from Jesus, to start over. But it couldn’t have been easy. They dropped their nets, left the security of family, walked away from decent jobs, and more, to follow Jesus.
I can almost see the question marks forming in the eyes of their parents, neighbors, and co-workers. I can almost imagine their chiding:
Really? But you are making a decent living.
But, son, this is your home.
But you have so much potential.
They started over anyway. And they ended up serving God’s Son because of it.
You can start over too, if God is calling you to it.
It’s actually okay to start over. In fact, it’s healthy to think through when or where you need to begin again.
Let’s normalize starting over. Let’s normalize self-advocacy. Let’s normalize boundaries. Starting over doesn’t mean giving up; it means prioritizing what truly matters.
Here’s a roadmap for starting over:
1 – Listen to your body. She’s telling you a story with the way she sleeps, eats, worries, trembles, aches.
2 – Listen to your soul. What is your soul sensing, way down deep where the Holy Spirit speaks?
3 – Listen to God’s Word. How does Scripture align with where you are in this season?
4 – Listen to trusted mentors and friends. Ask them to tell you what they see.
Isaiah 43:19 reminds us that God embraces new beginnings. “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?”
All these years later, I look back to see the fruit that has come about as a result of stepping into our “something new.” It wasn’t always smooth sailing, especially in the beginning, but I can say now, with deep gratitude, that God did abundantly more than we could have imagined.
It started with that scary first step of saying, “Let’s start over.”
The same is true for you. May you summon the courage within you, and around you, to take that first step into your “something new.” May you know whether it’s time to stay, or time to start over — bravely brand new — with Jesus.
Check out Jennifer’s groundbreaking guided journal, Stuff I’d Only Tell God, if you need help processing your past and imagining new beginnings.