It had really been a very sweet evening until that point. We had gone through the routine: brushing teeth, bath time, back into her room for jammies, story time, and prayers. The same as every night, and it was going smoothly.
Out of nowhere, though, she said something unacceptable. She probably didn’t mean to be as hurtful as the words made her sound; children just say things sometimes to test reactions and see what will happen.
Regardless of her intentions, though, discipline was swift. We both froze – her daddy and I – and he belted out a shocked, “NO. No ma’am!”
As swift as our response was, hers was even more so. Instant repentance and tears, clinging to mama’s legs and barely able to talk. We had never seen a response to discipline from her like that, and we exchanged bewildered glances over her head.
Then she began making her request: “I want Daddy to go back downstairs. I want to turn the light back off and come back in and sing songs. I want Daddy to go back downstairs.”
It took us a second, but then we realized the heart of what she was saying. She wanted a do-over. She wanted to go back and redo the very things she had been doing when the trouble started. She wanted another chance to start fresh.
That evening – and my little girl’s words – stuck with me, and the next day I realized how profound it all was. She wanted to start over. At three years old, she understood that a fresh start could make all the difference.
This idea of new beginnings has been heavy on my mind lately, as everything in the world reminds me that we’re in a brand new year. There are talks everywhere of our resolutions for the new year, and every television commercial seems to reinforce our intentions of exercising more…eating better…living differently…being better somehow. As the end of a year approaches, everyone seems thrilled by the chance to have a fresh start.
Things will be different, they think. All of my mistakes from last year will be null and I can try again at becoming who I want to be.
The year is new, and I can be, too.
It’s as though the pages of the calendar have an inexplicable hold over us. One day and then another day mean nothing to us unless one of those days is January 1st. We can’t change until the calendar and the ad agencies are ready for us to do so. We are stuck in our bad habits and good intentions until the filled, worn calendar on our wall is replaced with fresh, clean pages.
On a day like today, with the world shouting the praises of a new year, I am reminded of the promise of the One who created time itself:
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Friends, a fresh start isn’t dependent “one day when,” or on anything we have done or resolve to do. A fresh start is as close as the minute we’re in now, and rests securely not on our own abilities, but on the grace of the God who gave his moment to us. This fresh start we’re all longing for? It can be right now – today. And, if you’re like me and will mess up abundantly before you fall asleep tonight, you have a fresh start waiting for you again tomorrow morning. That has nothing to do with today’s date, and absolutely nothing to do with you.
All you have to do is ask, and the fresh start is yours….not because you’ve earned it or worked for it or are somehow good enough for it. This is your new beginning, simply because He longs to give it to you. Everything can be different…this year, today, right now.
Blessings for your new start, whenever it comes,