The Guilt-Free Guide to New Beginnings By Jo Russell

In a close competition for the top ten guilt trips in the last 366 days, several popular accounts came in from all over the country:

  •  Sally was dog-sitting in a rural community where most security systems consisted of four dogs under the front porch or a plastic sign in the yard featuring a business phone number that wasn’t connected to anything. But thirty seconds after she swung open the door at Roger’s house, Sally found the dogs cowering and a loud alarm vibrating the walls. Shortly after, two police officers pushed open the door and held their guns on her. Police officer Roger had been the only homeowner in the county wired to the police department. She never considered that her reputation as a dog-sitter would be forever changed to a hardened criminal!

 

  •  Barbara, a young mother of two, was man-handling produce between the vitamin-infested colors when she heard a code Adam describing a missing child looking for his mom who sounded just like her own offspring. Then she noticed she was still holding one son’s hand, but the other hand only held woody broccoli stems.

 

  •  When Sandra decided to organize the shed, she didn’t know the lock clicking behind her began an adventure. Attracting more audience participation, cheering, and entertainment than the latest film release was her 9-1-1 rescue involving the Jaws of Life opening her shed like a can of tuna. The neighbors enjoyed it so much they wanted to schedule it as an annual event in the community calendar.

 

  •  Marilyn discovered her dimpled thighs couldn’t be compressed into stretch jeans thanks to the season of sweets spanning Halloween through New Year’s Eve. “Cottage cheese belongs in the dairy case, in some recipes for lasagna and quiche, but not on my thighs. I made a promise this would never happen!” She had to find another solution: more Lycra, less denim!

 

  •  Shirley was great at take-out, phone in, and eating out. Her husband claimed the kitchen was nearly as unexplored as the surface of Mars, except by him. But that changed. When Shirley got together pots, pans, seasonings and a cook book to begin learning how to cook a simple roast, she felt her husband’s hot breath on her shoulder. It wouldn’t be long before he would clear his throat and offer suggestions.“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…” Shirley whispered as she swung the virgin sauté pan over one shoulder, knocking her husband out cold. The roast was delicious. Over time, her cooking improved without any further suggestions from the peanut gallery. And Shirley was still great at take-out, too.

Shortcomings are part of life. Much later, they can even be humorous. But setbacks or failures don’t dictate the final outcome of our lives.

Consider this worn-out piece of advice, “Keep your nose to the grindstone.” Persistence does have some value. But something truly held to a grindstone over time reshapes it or reduces it to useless rubble.

That’s not God’s way. His gentle honing is more like rubbing compound used on cars. It is a slightly grainy polish that buffs out scratches and restores the shine. God buffs us without buffeting us. He leaves room for our particular unique skills and purposes to grow and glow.

With His help, we become new. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Paul writes in Romans 5:8. We weren’t perfect then. We aren’t perfect now. He forgives us for our shortcomings and mistakes. New beginnings? We are offered them every day because of the Savior’s love and plan for us.

So as our new imperfect year marches forward, we can smile with anticipation of God’s patience with us, love for us, and great sense of humor!

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

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