Posted by: seminars4growth | September 27, 2009

Starting Over

By: Dr. Mary M.  Simms

When I was a little girl I loved the story of the Wizard of Oz.  I followed Dorothy’s journey as she followed a heart
determined to find a way back home.   Once she found the wizard, she soon discovered the magic to get back home
was not what she thought it would be–the wizard did not have the power to grant her request.    She discovered that God
had already placed the answer to her problems within her.

All of her traveling companions, the lion, the scarecrow and the tin man, in the process of their search they developed
the character qualities that they thought would come from an external source.  During the journey of looking for courage,
a heart, and some brains, they soon discovered that the journey provided the opportunity to strengthen these God given
qualities that was already within them, but was tested and brought out through adversity.  Real life is a lot like the Wizard
of Oz story.  It is a journey that can be filled with excitement and joy of a long awaited desire.  It can also contain long
seasons of adversity that are sometimes met with the   unknown.   These seasons can represent uncertainty, change,  
difficult transitions, unmet expectations and disappointment   In life’s journey,  however, God often uses things like
change and transition to  develop  character, renew  purpose,  and grow closer to him as well as  assist  others  along
their journey.   

Change, transition,  and moving forward are all words that describe the seasons of life.      On one hand, these words
can trigger fear of the unknown, anxiety and worry about the future.  On the other hand, these words can also stand for
excitement, new beginnings, and positive change. Transitions take some time getting used to.  It is the process of
gradually learning how to adapt to and accept change as well as learning the life skills necessary   to make life work
effectively.  An   illustration of a transitional season is the idea of going from being single to being married.  When I was
a single person many years ago, my mindset and focus was that of  a single person.    I was only concerned  about  
being responsible for and developing myself.  When I decided to get married,   it took me time to realize that the choices
I made affected my spouse.   And there were consequences for these choices.  Conflict erupted because of having a
single mindset.   An example was when I wanted to decorate our home, he wanted to have input into the decision
making process.   I had the mindset of always doing things my way.    I had to stop thinking about what I wanted and
had to start including my spouse in the decision making process.       When I wanted to spend “my” money any way I
desired, I began to see that my narrow thinking   affected our financial goals on building something together that we
both could benefit from.    Scripture tells us that a house divided against it cannot stand.   I had to start considering our
goals instead of just my goals.  This involved thinking differently as well as learning some new tools of conflict
management and communicating more effectively.   

Another transition was when we started having a family; I remember still having the mindset of a married person without
children.  I remember telling a colleague about my dreams and goals and where I wanted to land before  I turned 30. I
was an intensely driven, type “A”  personality making it happens in my career.  I was working on a master’s degree and
working full time with a husband and was pregnant with our first child.      Soon the question came “So, what are your
plans when your child arrives?  Do you plan on continuing to work and go to school”?   I really did not have an answer to
my friends   question and at the time just flipped her off by answering in some ambiguous, non accountable way such
as “Oh, yes, I have considered that”.  However, God used that question to stop me dead in my tracks.   God was trying to
open my blind eyes  to  see that  the transition that I was making was an important  one and needed  the same type of
energy and planning that I put into my  other life choices.  He was trying to teach  me to enjoy the journey and make the
most out of the season that I was in instead of trying to hurry out of it.  God taught me  the importance of t he parenting
role and the stewardship that He had blessed us with as parents.    If I am always living for the next season, then I
cannot enjoy the  present season  that I am in and the lessons that  might come from that season.   

In making transitions, sometimes our past can get in the way of helping us to see clearly.  Meet Bob and Sue.    Bob and
Sue came into my office for premarital counseling.  He made his feelings known about his commitment to marry Sue.   
“I really want to marry Sue, I love her”.  “Well”, she responded, “what are you going to about your mother “?  “You always
put your mom first, ahead of me”, she stated.  “No, I don’t,” he added. “I’ve just been used to listening to her advice
because she has a lot of wisdom”, he responded.   “Well, Sue retorted, you are already asking her for an opinion before
you ask me, and I am supposed to be your partner”.

Making this transition will be difficult for Bob because dad died when he was young and he was  used to helping mom
with the daily struggles of life.  In order for him to make the transition to the mindset of leaving and cleaving, he has to
see the pattern that has been established in his life.  Once he sees it, then he can do something about it.  If he stays in
denial about the pattern, he will continue to have the conflict.  Adopting the biblical principle of leaving his father and
mother and cleaving to his wife is necessary if he is to form a healthy foundation for his marriage relationship.

Some seasons are difficult and all require cultivating or learning faith -based truth principles to meet the demands of
the new season that you are in. For example, becoming a parent for the very first time doesn’t come with an automatic
manual.  There are biblically based principles on parenting, stewardship, and family priorities in God’s word that can
give you new tools. Retraining for a different career, learning to balance both career  and family, sending your only child
away to college and becoming an empty nester,  all require an ability to adapt and change and flow into the new season
with flexibility, a teachable heart,  and acceptance .  

Perhaps the biggest tool that is available   in helping  you through difficult transitions is to know that you are loved and
valued by a personal , powerful  and loving   God  who has a great plan for your life.  Even when you are discouraged
because of unexpected disappointment in the transition,  you have to take hold of the promise that God is still shaping
your life and has not forgotten you.  He is still in control no matter what difficulty  you are working through or what lies in
front of you.  And he is still speaking and employing His redemptive grace in your life.

Naomi , the woman described  in the book of Ruth knew about God’s  redemptive grace . She had experienced  multiple
losses  on several levels.  Picture this, you’re in a foreign land, and your immediate family,  your husband and your sons
die.  Imagine how you might feel, lonely, depressed, devastated, angry and  unloved.   Your finances are gone!  
Bankrupt!   On top of all of this, there is a famine in the land, which is severe.  It sure does not feel like she has anything
to hold onto.  She finally remembers, however, that the  LORD had come to the aid of her people in Jerusalem, and she
decides to head towards a safe place which represents truth, light  and life.  As she and her daughter- in -law Ruth
move towards the new place, Jerusalem, God begins to guide and direct their paths in ways that bring much fruit and
blessing to their lives.

Naomi’s transition back to Bethlehem is difficult.  She starts off in despair.  As she greets her former friends upon her
return to Bethlehem she says “Don’t call me Naomi, she told them.  “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my
life very bitter.  I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.  Why call me Naomi?  The Lord has afflicted
me; the almightily has brought misfortune upon me”.  (Ruth l: 20-21).  I can relate to Naomi’s pain.  Sometimes it is
difficult to see a bright future when the circumstances look bleak.   Naomi is a good model for us because even though
she had a hopeless perspective, she moved towards God and not away from Him by heading to Jerusalem.

Naomi is so discouraged during this transition that she tells  both of her  daughter in laws (the only support system she
has left in Moab)  not to even bother  taking the trip to Jerusalem with her.   She tells them that there is nothing in it for
them. “Return home, my daughters, why would you come with me?  Am I going to have any more sons, who could
become your husband’s?  Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband.  Even if I thought there
was still hope for me–even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons– would you wait until they grew up?  
Would you remain unmarried for them?  No, my daughters.  It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s had
has gone out against me!”.   ( Ruth l: 11-13) Orpah leaves, but Ruth clings to her bitter mother in law.

Upon their arrival in Bethlehem   Ruth gets a job as a gleaner working in the fields to support them .  As it turns out, she
happens to be working in a  field where a man named Boaz is the owner.  Boaz just happens to be a wealthy relative on
Naomi’s side of  the family.   Naomi’s understanding was first darkened due to her losses and she did not see any
hope for her future, as she moves through the transition with a good support system, her friends and her daughter in
law, she starts remembering that Boaz is a close relative and could redeem their difficult situation.

Boaz falls in love with Ruth, they get married, and they have a son named Obed.     She starts seeing God’s hand in
orchestrating the restoration of their lives.      Whereas Naomi thought her legacy was over, here then comes the Lord
rewriting history.  Obed  is from the generational line that leads to Jesus Christ.

Both Ruth and Naomi’s lives are restored! The legacy is alive and well, and  where there was death and destruction,
now there is life, peace and joy.   Boaz was called a “kinsmen redeemer”, that is, he was a wealthy relative who was
available to marry the dead man’s widow and provide for her.   Jesus is the ultimate kinsmen redeemer.  He brings life
to dark places, , he restores broken things and gives us strength to get through difficult seasons and the grace to move
towards the great plan and destiny that he has for our lives.