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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Treasure These Small Beginnings

When I held him in my arms, my heart broke in the best possible way.

It was a frigid day in February; my husband and I were scattered every which way preparing for a flight out of town. We were so worried he'd be born while we were away. That we'd miss out the joy of his arrival.

But the world stopped when I held my nephew. My heart broke of selfishness in that moment. Of fear. Of doubt. And for a moment it broke up bitterness that crumpled and rolled off like marbles in the palm of my hand.

It's been six months and now this darling, wriggly boy is on the move. He smiles. He laughs. And he wants anything but to sit still. A trait I can identify with on so many levels.

He's a small beginning. A reminder that something so little grows and grows. But he had to start somewhere. And that start in that darkened hospital room on that cold, February night was such a joy.

A neighbor congratulated us on our first year of marriage.

Back in July, through a row of magnolia trees that separate my family's home from hers. She'd attended our wedding with her husband of almost 60 years.

"And how are the newlyweds?" she asked.

Gordon stood up straight and smiled, "We're not really newlyweds, now," with the pride of a kid showing off his artwork. As if to say, it's been a year. We're in the midst of it. We're on the road doing the lovely and refining work of marriage.

But, to a woman who's been married to the same man for three-quarters of her life, we are newlyweds. And likely will be until we hit the ten-year mark. Until the time that we've been together outweighs the time we spent living without each other. Some twenty-odd years. Maybe even longer.

Our love is so small in comparison. But it grows and grows.

Scripture says, "despise not the day of small beginnings."

I'm not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination–I've even carefully curated a Bible study with some of the world's greatest people that's more of a book and tea club as to avoid becoming one.

But to me, despising-not means to honor fresh starts. To have the faith that God will bring these small beginnings to fruition if they're truly of Him. 

To me, it means to hold them like an infant. Like a small, silver band on your wedding day. Treasures. Keepsakes. As vital as that first big breath after you break surface from beneath the water.

Often in my own life I'm tempted to forget I'm a small beginning, too.

In my faith, certainly. In how I emulate Christ to others, of course. Beginning, beginning, ever-loving beginning.

And then the gap between college and what we call real life has widened year after year. My ten-year high school reunion is in its planning stages. But my career, my dreams, even after all this time, isn't exactly where I thought it'd be.

So often I want to be mature, veteran, deep and rooted. I want to appear to know what I'm doing. I want to give counsel. To be an expert-witness. To be trusted.

But the truth is, I'm starting. And I'm starting small. I'm learning not to resent it just like I don't discriminate an orchestra for tuning or buds for pushing up the ground.

We trust that they will be complete in their creation. We trust the conductor will wave and silence the cacophonous start into a structured, rhythmic piece of art.

We trust that God is always in the midst of refining our character in our work, in our family lives, in our day-to-day.

We trust that babies and marriages grow. And we trust that He who began a good work in us will fulfill it to completion.

I don't know where you are tonight. I don't pretend to. But if you find yourself like me, in a small start, waiting for business to pick up, relationships to dive deeper, babies to be born, maybe it's time we learned to do more than to not despise our new beginnings.

Maybe it's time we learn to adore them.

Speaking of new beginnings, I've started an email list like a real blogger! If you sign up below between now and Wednesday, Aug. 17th you'll have a chance to win Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Livingby Shauna Niequist!



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