I always tell my girls that starting something new is often like starting a book: you need time to explore it before you get comfortable. You need time to hold the book, look at the cover repeatedly, get to know the the characters, the story line and comb through the various scenes so you know exactly what is happening. Once you get through the beginning, you reach the middle where familiarity and comfort sets in. You know the characters involved and may grow to care for them (while others you could do without). You’ve got a grasp of the setting, plot and action. Soon, you become hooked and can’t put the book down. Then you close in on those final chapters, the falling action and resolution. It’s time to say goodbye to the story but you don’t want to let go.
It’s hard to leave something that you have invested in, that has grabbed your heart, been exciting, joyful, bitter-sweet, made you cry or made you feel that you traveled through an adventure. And parting ways with characters whom you feel you have gotten to know as if they were real people can feel as sad as saying goodbye to a living and breathing old friend whom you rarely see. Sometimes letting go of a good read is so hard, that some transition time is needed before starting a new one.
New experiences are no different.
One of you children may have started Kindergarten this month, elementary school or is switching schools. You may have a son or daughter who left for college, is starting a new job or living in a new city. Your child could be participating in a particular activity or sport for the first time and you are trying to encourage him/her to step out of their comfort zone and give this new thing a try. Maybe YOU are going through a new season yourself….starting in a new job, pursuing a secondary degree and having to go back to school. Maybe you are taking up a new hobby or pursuit like preparing for a marathon or starting a new business from home or career. Maybe it is a season of having to get use to not having someone special in your life. Beginnings can be exciting and keep us on the edge of our seats while we await the outcome of living out the details. Some people thrive on the process of fresh starts while others find them nerve-racking. Beginnings can be just plain old uncomfortable and some of us would do anything to get around them and hurdle over to the middle.
So what do we do during those beginnings? We know the tried and true feel-good affirmations: “Face your fears,” You can do it,” “Just put it ‘out there’ and everything will all work out,” “Think positive,” “Picture it happening and it will.”
The one I’d like to add to the list may not be so conventional nor tossed around like veggies in a salad nearly as often: “My times are in your hands.” This sentiment was voiced by King David to God when he was on the run from King Saul and being betrayed by friends. While fleeing from his enemies, David asks God to deliver him from those who are pursuing him. It would be easy for him to feel that his circumstances are in the hands of those who are out to get him. If you read Psalm 40, you see that David doesn’t give his enemies control over his life even though he is on the run to save it (hopefully, this is not a challenge any of you are facing but there are times when we feel overpowered by people or circumstances outside our control.) David appeals to God for control because he knows God is ultimately the One in charge of his life…not others.
While David waits, God is at work. Doing, preparing and developing so He can move David (and us!) to a place where He wants us to be or shaping characteristics He wants us to have. Where do you turn in those new situations that may seem daunting? Do you take matters into your own hands and feed them with fear, doubt, worry, what ifs, and the voices of the world? Who is really in charge of your beginning, middle and end and how can you be encouraged to rest with comfort when you are in any one of those places? We can turn to God to give us what we need in each place by remembering that He:
Upholds us (“I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” Isaiah 41:10)
Helps us (“I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13)
Has compassion on us (“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.” Isaiah 30:18)
Gives us strength (“He give strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29)
Rescues us: (“You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.” Psalm 40:17)
Answers us: (“In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”) Psalm 5:3
Whatever new situation you may find yourself in or your child, remember that living out the beginning moments takes time, faith and patience before reaching that fabulous, comfortable middle. Enjoy the process, for beginnings and middles become ends all too soon.