The Adventures of Starting Over

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Dec 26, 2015

“That last page turned is a perfect excuse to write a whole book.”
Toni Sorenson

There is nothing quite like the adventure of a new beginning. I think that is part of the reason why we enjoy celebrations for birthdays and anniversaries. One chapter closes and another one opens. It is a time to look back and a time to look forward. 

Over the years Evie and I have had many new beginnings. Each of us had one when we finished high school and went off to college. Those individual new beginnings eventually brought both of us together so that we started a whole new beginning for both of us as “we.”

We started our family. Over the years we started numerous new leadership responsibilities. We had new formal and informal learning experiences. For us, life has been made up of one start after another. 

We moved to new places: from Illinois and Pennsylvania to Missouri; from Missouri to Pennsylvania; from Pennsylvania to Illinois; from Illinois to Minnesota; from Minnesota to Belgium, and back to Minnesota; from Minnesota and back to Pennsylvania. New places always meant new adventures as we left the known for the unknown. 

Because we’ve shared more than 48 years of life together, Evie and I have had many opportunities for starting over. Without a doubt, each one has been an adventure.

My brother, Ken, and his wife, Jessie, have just begun a new adventure of starting over. They have lived in New Castle, Pennsylvania, for approximately 30 years. For the first 25, Ken served as the lead pastor of the Assemblies of God church in New Castle. The past five he has served part-time on the staff of that same church.

During these years their roots have gone deep into that community. They have shepherded an entire congregation through the joys and sorrows of life. An author named Kim Warren writes that life is rarely all good or all bad but like the two tracks of a railroad, life is often filled with both simultaneously. Year in and year out they served with faithfulness and deep devotion.

But now the time has come for another new beginning. They are leaving New Castle and moving just a bit west of Harrisburg. Within days they sold their house and within days they bought another one. Their voices sparkle over the phone as they talk of furniture shopping and paint colors and living closer to their grandchildren.

I often think of the students here at the University of Valley Forge. They started here as incoming students and with that start came an adventure they could never anticipate. Some of them came here without even visiting the campus in advance. And as the years unfold for each of them, new classes and new part-time jobs and new service learning opportunities bring one new adventure after another. 

But then the time comes to graduate. We sometimes say we would like them to stay but we know that if they did, they would become root bound like that plant that wants to grow large but we keep in a small pot. Or they could be like the bonsai plant with all of the potential of its full size dwindled to nothing more than a miniature of what it could become.

So now a new year is ahead — a time for new beginnings with limitless adventures. How tempting it is to stay with the familiar; remain where we are; play it safe. But no longer can we live in 2015. Forward is the only direction we can go. Calendars don’t run backward. 

We now launch out into the unknown and experience the adventure of a new beginning. As Richelle E. Goodrich said, “If I must start somewhere, right here and now is the best place imaginable.”

If Ken and Jessie can do it, so can we.

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of  
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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