Your Imperfect Beginnings Are the First Step Toward a Perfect Ending

You are the object of your Heavenly Father’s love. Never forget to look up and see the delight in his eyes.

André Reinoso, “Saint Joseph and the Child Jesus” c. 1620-30
André Reinoso, “Saint Joseph and the Child Jesus” c. 1620-30 (photo: Public Domain)

Every January, we are given opportunity to offer that which is not yet begun — or as in the case of the current “elliptical orbit around the sun,” barely begun. But as with “Grace Before Meals,” either with children or even the “occasionally-forgetful” teenagers or adults, this isn’t always done perfectly. 

The very existence of this article is proof that imperfect beginnings can be seen as opportunities rather than failures. (Beginning to pen a New Year’s article so many days into the new year might be seen as not worth trying, but one can either chose this position, or to offer the loaves and fishes one has and trust that the Lord will do the rest.) The fact that a baby wobbles before walking doesn’t mean he shouldn’t try walking — imperfect beginnings are written everywhere in life and the Lord can use these, and us, for his glory. 

Imperfect beginnings can serve as a reminder that Our Heavenly Father sees the loving attempts of his children, young and not-quite-so-young, and that he actually delights in his children! As Psalm 149 reminds us, “For the LORD takes delight in his people, honors the poor with victory.”

While our beginnings may be imperfect, we can still make of our year an offering to God. A good act of contrition and a trip to the Sacrament of Penance may be helpful to make this offering more genuine, but it is good to remember that God loves us first, always, and even before we return to him. Echoing Psalm 149, “The LORD takes delight in his people” — you are the object of Divine Love! 

Perhaps that’s a word you really need to hear — you are the object of Divine Love! One can hear the need for this message in the fact that this theme was shared so many times by Mother Angelica throughout her life. Even the Introduction to Mother Angelica Live reminds, in a recording of her voice: “The essence of evangelization is to tell everybody ‘Jesus loves you,’” followed by her, oft-quoted and also worth-hearing, “We’re all called to be great saints; don’t miss the opportunity.”

Being the object of Divine Love should motivate us to respond by seeking to become a person characterized by charity — love for God and love for neighbor — and ultimately a saint, a holy one of God. And when we fall, which inevitably we will on this side of eternity, we should seek the Father who delights in his children. 

Being the object of Divine Love also allows us to seek more lofty aims than if we were without a Heavenly Father who cares about our progress (to borrow the analogy of the toddler) from wobbling to walking and even running. In simple terms, the love of the Father urges on to sanctity. This same love is made manifest in Christ: “the love of Christ impels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). 

One simple and attainable aim can be to offer not just our year but even our daily thoughts, words and actions to God. This is often done in the Catholic spiritual tradition through a simple Morning Offering — a prayer at the beginning of one’s day, forming an intention for the whole of one’s day to make of it an offering to God. The practice of a Morning Offering can even be taught to children and can form a good staple ingredient in private, spousal, family or even classroom prayer. 

Maybe this isn’t the year you strive to take on big unattainable goals, but maybe it’s a year in which you can offer your beginnings, the beginning of each day, and to offer the ordinary aspects of life with trusting love that God can do great things with our loaves and fishes.

Remember that your Heavenly Father is ready to watch you go from a spiritual wobbler to a spiritual runner. Be a “trusting toddler,” and don’t forget to look up and see the delight in the eyes of your Heavenly Father!