Once upon a time…

I feel like all of the best stories could start like that. When you hear those words, you can pretty much count on the fact that you should snuggle in and listen well because things are about to get good.

Over the next three Fridays, we’ll be dwelling on (and in) different stages of the process. Yeah, ‘the process’ is an ambiguous term, but it’s intentionally so. The process could be any aspect of your life, really, or a big project you need/want to get underway.

The first stage is—obviously—the beginning.

Just as every great story starts with a form of “once upon a time,” every worthwhile endeavor commences in a certain way. Usually, the formula looks something like this:

  1. You are exposed to a new idea. (Example: a friend invites you over for some French cuisine.)
  2. You are struck by the benefits of this idea. (Example: you think, French food is the best ever! I never knew you could do that with chicken!)
  3. You begin dreaming of the possibilities of incorporating this idea into your own life. (Example: visions of chef grandeur fill your mind.)
  4. You start investigating the idea’s logistics. (Example: French cooking shows make a regular appearance in your house.)
  5. You prepare for implementing the idea. (Example: cookware shopping spree!)
  6. You start. (Example: you whip up your first French dish.)

Most ventures in life begin with something like this progression, even if the steps flow rapidly from one to the next (or even if each step takes a painfully long time). Most sane people don’t stop every time they are confronted with a new idea and consciously walk through this process; it’s just what ends up happening.

Granted, so far, this concept of beginnings has been pretty sterile—like opening up a frog in high school science class. But what happens when you step from that environment into imagination, becoming the frog in the princess fairytale? Suddenly, you don’t care about liver lobes and nictitating membranes for a grade; they are helping your body function as it should. Your senses begin overwhelming you, so different than what you’re used to as a human. The smooth wet branch beneath your belly, the breath leaving your nostrils, the sticky pads of your thumbs, the aftertaste of a fly lingering in your mouth: transforming your context transforms your perspective. (You’ll probably never think the same again about dissecting amphibians after such an experience, for starters!)

Journeys that are worth taking require both brains and guts at the outset. If you have all brains in the beginning, but no heart behind it, you’ll burn out as soon as things get difficult. At the same time, a desire to start but no foresight will leave you disappointed as failures mount.

You’re called to courage in moving from vague possibilities to actual realities. Everything you now excel at was probably once scary to you, unknown and untested. How does a kid get from being terrified of the deep end to being the cannonball champion of the pool? Risk. Faith. Work. Lots of awkward moments and chances to do it again. No amount of research about how to swim gracefully can equate to getting in there and practicing it yourself. Be willing to take the next baby step toward the deep end, whatever that looks like for you.

What dreams have stirred in you? Which story longs to be started? Or where are you in the progression on a particular new adventure? Courage, friend. In your beginning, you will find God.


Hard because

Unknown and scary; fear can hold you back.

Easy because

Surrounded by a lot of hype; excited energy can push you forward.

Helpful because

God often calls us to start something new; we are made in our Creator’s image.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

(John 1:1)

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