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Our weekly newsletter filled with news, updates, and inspiring stories of how God is working in the Bay Area.

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A fresh start is “an opportunity to start over without prejudice.” Have you ever needed a fresh start? Maybe you made a bad decision or said something you wish you could take back, or maybe you had one of those days you would like to forget. True fresh starts are a gift from God and something he wants us to have:

Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:30 MSG

With God, every day is an opportunity for a fresh start – some small and some large. Today, do you need a fresh start? God can give us a fresh start that will truly change our life. A true fresh start begins with God and God begins with our hearts.

A Fresh Start Starts in the Heart

Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23 GW

This scripture says that it is our heart that will determine how our life goes. The state of our heart affects our attitudes and determines the course of our life. Our heart will determine what we value and where we turn for a fresh start.

Take, for example, marriage fights. We have 2 choices when disagreements, hurt feelings, or miscommunications occur: talk it out and end up closer, or let it divide and drive distance between you. The state of your heart will determine which one you chose. For me, when I have made seemingly small decisions to try to find a fresh start by ignoring hurt feelings, I have found only bitterness and distance.
Another way I have attempted to find my happy fresh start was in how I looked physically. It began by simply watching what I ate and trying to exercise a little more. I loved how it felt to lose weight, I loved how I felt empowered. Unfortunately, the weight was never enough and I was never fully satisfied with who I saw in the mirror. The weight loss became an unhealthy obsession, that only led to more isolation and never gave me the fresh start I was desiring.
The one thing that these seemingly small attempts to find a fresh start have in common was my choice about how to handle the truth: to acknowledge it and share it or deny it. My decision to hide feelings, regrets, dreams and hurts lead to my heart being unguarded. With each of these decisions my heart began to reflect a woman I never intended to become – bitter, lonely and consumed with my appearance.
As women we can often think we are experts at honesty because we feel so much and seemingly have no problem sharing these emotions. However the emotions we often share are only the surface of what we really feel. It is the deeper emotions, of fear, hurt and guilt, that we cut off or hide. When these feelings are not dealt with, they will begin to feel too great and we will start to think we have no choice but to stop feeling them. We still look for and desire a fresh start, but we begin to think of honesty as weakness and hardness as being strong. A hard heart is incapable of a true fresh start, so it has to settle for pleasure.

Pleasure(s) cannot replace refreshment

Ephesians 4:17-19 (NASB) says,

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

When we find strength in becoming numb, in “not caring,” in having what God calls a hard heart, we become calloused and apathetic. When we are apathetic we try to replace refreshment with pleasures.

Though a hard heart can have temporary pleasure, it is incapable of a true fresh start.
Is there anything in your life you have hardened to? Your dating relationships, discouragement in marriage, your job, your kids, your sin, your past?

As long as you hide this pain, fear, or guilt you will never experience the true fresh start you are seeking. But God can do amazing things in our heart if we let him.

God Changes Hearts and Gives Fresh Starts

19 I will give you one heart and a new spirit; I will take from you your hearts of stone and give you tender hearts of love for God

Ezekiel 11:19 TLB

God can give us a completely new heart (think: like the Grinch). He can remove the pain, fear and guilt of the past and give us a new heart … a fresh start.

When anyone lives in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone! The new is here! All this is from God. He brought us back to himself through Christ’s death on the cross. And he has given us the task of bringing others back to him through Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NIrV

God’s fresh start is one filled with joy and purpose.

With God we can be the women we desire to be. We can have the fresh start we long to have and we can help those around us to have a fresh start. God does this by helping us understand the cross and Jesus’ decision to take responsibility for all of our sins. When you really understand that the story of the cross is Jesus’ personal decision to take responsibility for all your mistakes and sins, you can be freed up from your past and grateful for the chance to move forward.

God has given me many fresh starts and he continues to give me fresh starts. As a result I have been able to help others find their fresh start.

Today, make the decision to admit areas where your heart has been hardened and what you are trying to turn to for a fresh start. Decide to fight it and embrace God’s fresh start instead.

Written by

Jen Straw

Jen is the Director of Instruction and Specialized Services for the Hope Technology School in Palo Alto, California. She has worked in education since 2002, and is passionate about helping students achieve their full potential both inside and out of the classroom.