"9 Words About Beginnings" -- that title was heading the Dictionary.com homepage for the first week of 2016 and every time I pulled up the app on my phone it struck me afresh. I'm not used to thinking of the New Year as about beginnings. I make my resolutions with a mind to goals and accomplishments -- to finishing, not starting. That's why I love Kim's challenge to us and to you to choose a word instead of making a resolution. Words are not a goal, they're a beginning.
When Ruth writes about knowing God, or Shobana commits to taking One Day at a Time, those are not things they will one day mark off as 'done', instead they are spaces they are making inside themselves to let something grow (even if it takes a lifetime!). And there's incredible power in letting God speak to us a word for our year. If you don't believe that, remember the very beginning of everything we know was a word spoken by God.
Which is why it is fitting, I suppose, that my word for this year is Begin. Come back in twelve months and I might have more for you than just the word. For me, at least, it can take the whole year to understand the significance of its theme. You have to live something to fully understand it.
But I don't think I'm the only one feeling this is a year for beginnings. "Two-thousand sixteen is a window of opportunity," a friend said to me with a fiery glint in her eye as we walked home from a New Years Eve Party. "Who else feels like this year is a fresh start?!" a friend asked a in group chat a few days later. The message resonated.
So if you also feel like a world of possibilities are lined out before you this year, and all you have to do is have the courage to begin, here are my own 9 words about beginnings -- some of my thoughts from the first weeks of 2016, as I was wondering how on earth I would even begin this post . . .
1) To begin requires that you become childlike. Kids are great at starting things. As I'm writing this I'm watching my three nieces while their parents are on an anniversary getaway. I am surrounded by half-built castles and forts, half-eaten sandwiches, piles of drawings and other inventions. I can hear them around the corner creating games and imaginary worlds. Children's lives are full of new words and new experiences. They are always learning something. But as we get older we realise that if we stick to what we know we never have to feel like a beginner, and so we stop trying, discovering, or attempting new things.
2) Every beginning is a discovery. There's no need to see things in terms of the binary code of success or failure. Nothing goes how we expect it to, but every experience is an opportunity to learn about who God is and how He has made us. I joined a lot of team sports -- and got hit in the face by a lot of balls -- before I discovered that I have pretty poor depth perception. And without that discovery I would never have learned how to dance, and run, and swim -- a few of the great joys of my life!
3) You may never feel ready. God only provides us with the grace for what He's called us to. He doesn't give us the grace to be a parent before we are a parent (I'm learning that first hand!), or the grace to love our spouse before we commit to them. If you don't feel ready it's because you aren't. Begin anyway.
4) God is the God of beginnings. Age old beginnings like the rising of the sun every morning. New beginnings like the knitting together of every child in it's mother's womb. To come to Him is to be "born again" -- the most perfect gift He gives us is a beginning!
5) Every beginning is a risk. It's easy for little me to say that God, who knows everything, doesn't risk with His beginnings. He knows the end of all things, but He takes a risk with every heart He starts beating, because each is a heart that may never again belong to Him. And yet every day He dares to create again, to love again. Can we be so brave?
6) Once you begin, you have to begin over and over again. There's no place I've experienced this more than falling in love. Love, more than anything, is a series of beginnings. First kiss, first anniversary, first argument. And after every argument it feels like we have to begin all over again. Every time I feel crushed in my spirit, I have to choose to blossom again.
7) To begin is to trust. It is Jesus who is both "author and finisher" (Hebrew 12:2), and in Him we have the promise "that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" (Philippians 1:6).
8) "But don't begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation . . . " (Luke 14:28-29).
9) Not all things that can be begun can be finished. We ourselves are beginnings without ends. And that should be a comfort, because if you think of us in terms of our eternal identity, then anyone alive on this earth is still very much a beginner. I remind myself of that when I feel like I'm fumbling through the beginnings God gives me. To Him, I'm just His kid. And kids are great at starting things.
Photo Credit: Unsplash