"I wish there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning again.
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all our poor, sordid grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat
At the door."
These wistful words of the poet Louisa Fletcher have probably been echoed at times in all our hearts. The marvelous truth is there is such a place. It's God's gift of a brand-new year. As the door of 2013 closes, we can walk into 2014 with all its possibilities and challenges.
In the early 1980s, I had the unusual experience of inadvertently meeting someone who needed a new beginning. I was about to enter a local mall when I heard a man's voice ask, "Are you the Nell Mohney who writes a newspaper column, and may I ask you a question?" My reply was, "Yes to both questions."
The man said, "I'm as mean as the devil. If you don't believe it, you can ask my wife." Quickly I replied, "I'll take your word for it," and wondered what was coming. Then he told me he had a terrible temper and couldn't seem to control it. "It's only by the grace of God that I've had any success. What do I need?"
"You have just said what you need - more of the grace of God." Then I explained how to receive that grace and also gave him the name of a counselor. We, then, parted ways, and I often wondered what happened to him.
This past week, some 22 years later, I was entering the same mall and heard my name called. It was the same man. He told me that soon after we had talked in 1981, he and his family had moved out of town, but he added: "Your words started me on a new beginning. I saw a counselor, began to attend church and made a serious commitment to the one whose birthday we celebrate. I'm a totally new person."
Suddenly, I realized we all need to give up old destructive habits and move with joy into a brand-new year.
Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.