You’ve got to start somewhere.

When I was little, I remember looking at the Minesweeper game on my family’s computer but having no idea how to play it.  (Kind of similar to the Risk computer game…except I’ve never taken the time to figure Risk out.)  I would click random boxes and then numbers would appear until, eventually, everything would explode.  Not knowing the purpose or goal of the game meant success was unlikely to happen.

However, even now that I know the game, I still find it slightly frustrating that there is no perfect way to start it.  Usually you don’t end up selecting a mine right away but sometimes you do.  And there is no foolproof way to avoid it.  You simply need to begin in a random place.

Sometimes I feel that way with life.  Transformations that I desire to happen or significant projects I would like to complete often baffle me by providing no clear entry point.  Where does one begin?  What is the correct way to start?

For years, I’ve wanted to write a book.  When I was younger, it was simply the broad idea of desiring to write a book.  Now I know the topic, the title, and the general idea, but I still lack the plan I believe I need to be successful in the endeavor.  I want some clear outline or step-by-step process that will enable me to have a fail proof starting point.  However, the perfect beginning eludes me. 

Or running a half marathon.  Last year, I printed out a running schedule for a half marathon but that was as far as I got in the process.  I signed up for the race thinking that it would encourage me to start training since it would be a waste of money if I didn’t follow through.  As the days and weeks passed, I kept saying, “Trish, you need to start this week.”  But something always arose to make that week an unsuitable starting point.  Either it was the weather or my health or time or feelings or meal scheduling.  There was always something to prevent me from starting.  Just start! I would think as I opted to take a nap or watch a TV show instead of run.

For most things, there is probably never a perfect time to start.  There will always be excuses one can make for not engaging in something that is different or strenuous.  However, we must just begin.  Begin running, begin writing, begin praying, begin talking, begin listening, begin doing whatever good it is that we desire yet find ourselves delaying.  I discussed with some students the other morning how we often know what will make us happier yet we don’t do it.  We talked up waking up earlier to pray and having extra time in the morning to not feel rushed.  Even knowing that a low stress morning makes for a better start to the day, we are slow to implement that very thing.

Beginning is the key, even if it involves beginning imperfectly with varied levels of success.  (Remember: anything worth doing is worth doing badly.)  If I wait until I know exactly how I want to format the book, I will never begin because the act of writing it will help determine its form.  If I wait until I can run a couple of miles with ease, I will never begin because how I can get to that point without slogging through the initial trial of starting to exercise?  Begin may not be half done, as my mother used to say, but it is definitely a critical part of ever being successful.

The Lord delights in every little step you take.

St. Francis de Sales

What is the next step you need to take?  What is preventing you from leaning into your desires and allowing them to be fulfilled?

Lord, grant us the grace to begin.  Regardless if we begin well or poorly, allow us the grace to begin.

Photo by Mikito Tateisi on Unsplash

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