Imperfect Beginnings

For as long as I can remember, I have been a perfectionist. I hold myself to a high standard and often exhaust myself trying to reach that mark. While striving for excellence is a good thing, being a painstaking perfectionist has a major downside: it also makes me a procrastinator. I don’t like to start anything until I know I can complete it perfectly. This has led to countless untold stories, unfulfilled dreams, and unshared talents. It’s also led to an assortment of excuses for why these things go undone.

I can’t do this thing, I reason, because it won’t be just right. If my results aren’t up to my high standards, surely my efforts aren’t worthwhile. It’s smarter to wait until I can guarantee a better result. When I know I’ll write fluently, make music flawlessly, share Jesus articulately, and succeed completely, then I’ll begin.

The real reason behind these excuses, though, isn’t wise planning or careful preparation. It’s fear. I am afraid to step out and walk on the waters Jesus has called me to. I’m afraid that my efforts won’t matter; my words, my songs, my heart, won’t make a difference. This fear tries to convince me that it’s not time to step out yet; when the time is “right,” then I can move forward. Until then, I shouldn’t begin anything. I should simply wait… and then wait some more.

For the past year, though, the Lord has been showing me that there’s no such thing as a perfect beginning. We will never feel equipped, confident or qualified enough for the things He calls us to. And we’re not supposed to. Jesus doesn’t call us because we have it all together. He calls us so He can put things together through us, providing what we need and showing His grace and greatness through even our shortcomings. One of my favorite Scriptures is 2 Corinthians 12:9: “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The very weaknesses I have allowed to hold me back are what invite the power of God to rest in my life! His grace, not my talent is what equips me to do His will. Jesus doesn’t view our small, unsteady starts as an inconvenience or disappointment; He welcomes and encourages them. He doesn’t merely work with and through our imperfect beginnings; He delights in them.

When I feel that my efforts are uncoordinated or unimportant, Jesus isn’t recording my shortcomings. He is celebrating that the work has started. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10).

What has Jesus whispered in your heart that it’s time to begin? Don’t let fear hold you back – Jesus rejoices to see our imperfect, obedient beginnings. Autumn may seem like an odd time to think about “beginnings,” but I often find myself reflecting in the fall. It’s a time to look back on the year that has passed so far and to look ahead to what’s coming. And it’s a time to simply, imperfectly, begin.

Sarah Bio

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