“Can we start over?”

My husband Jonas and I say this phrase a lot these days. With two kids under a year and a half, jobs, families, friends, church, life, we just are burnt out. That’s the long and short of the situation. I’ve come to realize that it’s really not complicated: we simply are bone tired. At any given moment, “Can we start over?” has become the theme keeping our marriage together.

When stress builds for a while it usually surfaces through irrelevant things: a butter knife left in the sink or a phone call cut too short because of crying babies in the background. We just can’t seem to get in sync. Sure, we’ve tried the weekend getaways, but found we spend a lot of the time just wanting to sleep away the hours we’ve been missing for the last two years. And after the two days are up, we’re just more upset, feeling like we should have done something “fun” with our time.

Instead of waiting for some miraculous change in fatigue and attitude, we resort to starting over, and over, and over — often many times a day. It works for the present and that’s good enough for us since that’s the furthest our brains will process right now. While we do believe in God’s miracles, we also know what He has in is just a stage, and we’re okay with that. Besides, with one adopted baby and a pregnancy less than two months later, after years of infertility, we are pretty confident His miracles actually are the ones causing this situation. (Plus they are pretty cute, so we more easily accept the challenge!)

When it comes to my personal walk with God, I find myself using this phrase with Him a lot too. “Can we start over, Lord? I am just struggling to keep it all together today.” Psalm 145:14 says that “The Lord uphold all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.” God doesn’t always need me to raise the white flag for a do-over, but I like to think He appreciates it. It gives me a sense of calm knowing, that as with my husband, I can just say I failed and ask to start over. Humbleness is not a weakness in my book; it’s a necessary tool for survival.

It makes life so much easier in a marriage when either spouse claims “uncle”.  There is less conflict, less resentment, and less lingering “what if’s” on a heart. I don’t like knowing I made him upset, or he made me upset, and at some point we should talk, but we’re tired and we’ll just argue more and I’ll cry, and he’ll walk away. Whew. Just thinking of all that makes me plead: “Can we start over?”

I’ve come to love that phrase and knowing that if either of us says it, all our transgressions are erased. No questions asked. We are committed to loving each other as our Jesus loves us. If we can’t make it to church because we’re tired, the kids are crabby, the family Sunday dinner is out of town, I know that we are doing are best to live the way God is calling us to — in this moment. We can be surrounded by bottles and dinosaurs and diapers, but God wants us to still be His calling in the world and I can offer him our genuine and simply raw world.

People have their place of joy, whether it’s a favorite family spot on a lake, a diner with the best hot fudge sundaes or singing hymns on Sunday mornings. Right now mine is peace. My place of joy is the moment after we say “Can we start over?” It is heaven sent. It is pure comfort to know that “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10) I think Jonas feels the same way, because we’re both know it’s the best thing for our family to not hold a grudge and move on with love between us.

I think of the blanket my Grandma made me. It is the material item I turn to when the kids and Jonas have gone to bed and I crave simple, cozy comfort. I see my Bible sitting on the table, and many times, my eyes are too tired to even pull it onto my lap. I sit on the couch wrapped in my blanket, quietly saying my prayers to my loving God. “Thank you for letting me start over Lord: with you, with my husband, my kids and many times, myself. Thank you for giving me the grace and peace to know you are always here and always will be.”

I know that God is just happy to be with me here in today’s chaos, and when my babies are older and I’m ready to emerge from these days of dark circles under my eyes, He will remain through the next phase. “But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up,” reads the second line of that Ecclesiastes verse. My prayer is that everyone learns how to say “Can we start over?” and keeps someone on the journey with them. When Jonas and I feel we’ve reached our breaking point, we know we’re facing it together, and if we mess up, we can just start over. It’s freedom in its purest form. God’s gift to us, and ours to Him.


Jen Bradley is a farmer's daughter, devoted wife, friend and mother to two little boys. She says God has seen her through many ups and downs of marriage in a few short years. From family conflicts to infertility, illness to adoption, and pregnancy to balancing it all, she feels drawn to help others know that they are not alone. Jen has learned that with God's grace and strong, Christian support, the trials make the blessings even more blessed. Jen writes from East Troy, Wisconsin, and is owner of Bradley Bylines. Her portfolio can be found at www.bradleybylines.com.

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