"It's Time to Start"

Sunday, October 3, 2021
Featuring: Rev. Richard Maraj
Week #4 of a 6-Week Series, "It's Time"

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Rev. Richard Maraj: So how many people would say that you have a hard time getting started, even when it’s something you really want to do? Anybody ever had a hard time getting started on something? How many people have ever distracted yourself by doing a lot of little tasks trying to avoid the really big and difficult task? Anybody avoid? [Congregation laughs] And how many people have had a goal or a dream or something you want to achieve, and you really want it, but you really haven’t done much work about it?

You know, it is amazing how we have a hard time starting certain things. Sometimes starting an exercise program; sometimes going on a new diet or weight loss program. Sometimes getting started gathering all our tax documents together for our accountant. Or starting our own business. Even doing the research and booking our dream vacation! Doing our personal budget or financial planning plan, or preparing our will. Or even writing that great American novel we always say that we’re going to write one day.

Sometimes getting started is really tough. You know, it’s breaking through that inertia to get things moving and flowing. And even if it’s fun and good for you, and great, it takes energy to get started. It takes physical and mental energy. It takes a plane a lot more fuel taking off and getting off the ground than it does when it’s going and cruising. And it’s the same for us in life, as well.

And it’s not just the energy, but it’s sometimes just the mental ideas that we have … like we’re afraid to start, because we’re afraid to fail. We think we don’t have enough confidence or talent or money or education, or maybe that’s too big. You know, maybe I won’t be able to handle it; maybe I’m afraid if things really change big. Another thing that holds us back from starting is sometimes perfectionism. Sometimes we only want to do it well, and if we can’t do it well, we won’t even try at all.

You know, it’s amazing how we have a difficult time getting started. Like, something I’d like to start is: I would like to start telling you better jokes on Sunday. [Congregation laughs] Unfortunately, that’s not today! The joke that I have is an oldie; I’m sure you’ve heard it. And it’s not a goodie. But I’m still going to tell it to you! Here we go!

So this woman was upset at her husband because he was constantly late for dinner, and always taking her for granted. So she wanted to teach him a lesson. So she wrote him a note that said, “I have had enough; I have left you. Don’t bother coming after me!” And then she hid under the bed to observe his reaction. After a short while, he comes home. She hears him in the kitchen before entering the bedroom. She sees him walking over to the bureau, picking up the note, and reading it. And then, after a minute or so, he writes something on the note. Then he picks up the phone and makes a call. And he says, “She is finally gone; thank God!” [Congregation laughs] “I am coming to see you; put on something nice, because we are celebrating tonight. I love you, and I’ll see you real soon!” He hangs up, grabs his keys, and heads off out of the driveway. And then she comes out from under the bed. She’s angry; she’s devastated. With tears in her eyes, she grabs the note to see what he wrote. And he wrote, “I can see your feet under the bed.” [Congregation laughs] “We’re out of bread; I’ll be back in five minutes.” [Congregation laughs]

Okay. [Laughs] You want to applaud …? Stormy; God bless you! [Congregation laughs] So the 13th-century Dominican monk, Meister Eckhart, said this: “And suddenly, you know it’s time to start something new, and to trust the magic of new beginnings.” Let me say that again! Sometimes you suddenly know it’s time to start something new, and to trust the magic of new beginnings.

See, I think every one of us knows that there are times in life: it’s time for us to start something. Start something new and absolutely trust the magic of new beginnings. You know why there’s magic in new beginnings? Because new beginnings open new opportunities, new ideas, new levels of awareness. It changes us! Gives us different perspective, a different mindset. Introduces us to different dimensions to ourselves. New awareness, new understanding. New levels of joy and fulfillment that we have not felt before, because we’ve been in a particular routine or a particular dynamic for so long.

When you hear that voice that says, “Start something new” … When you hear that inner calling that says, “Trust the magic of new beginnings” … It is that inner voice calling something out greater in us: more out of us and more for us. It is that evolutionary, impulse of God calling us to evolve, to grow, to expand into the fullness of who we came here to be.

So where in your life is it calling you to start something? And maybe start something new? Where in your life are you being called to trust the magic of new beginnings?

You know, our facility in [November] – one month from now – will be 23 years old. Twenty-three years old! And I would say today – 23 years later, at this current time – our facility’s in the best shape it’s ever been since it was originally built. Our ministry is running with greater processes and systems and levels of efficiency than we ever have. And I would say one of the key person for that is our Director of Operations Robin Wilson, who’s been with us for six years. She’s done a tremendous job!

So we met this week and realized that the work she came here to do: has mastered it, and completed it, and now it’s time for a new adventure. A new challenge and new opportunities. And so, celebrating that. And also celebrating, not just those six years, but she’s also here for another month, which I’m excited about in that transition period. Because those are some big shoes to fill.

But it’s a perfect example that, sometimes in life, we reach a place that we’ve mastered: that we’re good, that we’ve done all we came to do. And there’s two ways you can go. We could just continue to be there and get to the place of feeling a little restless or a little uncertain or complacent. Or listen to that inner voice and know: it’s time to start something new. It’s time to trust the magic of new beginnings.

Sometimes we think getting started is just about overcoming procrastination. And it’s not! It’s about opening ourselves to the fullness of the person we came here to be. It is actually a soul calling to move forward: to take our next spiritual step and to expand. It is about renewing ourselves in mind, body and spirit.

You know, starting – or choosing not to start, or listen to that calling for a new beginning – is actually avoiding our own growth. Is actually avoiding all of the gifts and blessings. And avoiding us becoming who we came here to be.

So today is Week #4 in our six-week series called, “It’s Time.” Because we are very good at sometimes procrastinating and putting off very important things: good things, vital things for our lives that we know will absolutely make a difference. And because it’s time! Week #1 was, “It’s Time to Wake Up.” Week #2 was, “Time to Be Honest.” Last week was, “Time to Forgive.” And today it’s, “Time to Start.”

Last week we looked at the four choices of forgiveness; today we’re going to look at the four “gets” of getting started.

And the first one to get started is: You’ve got to GET CLEAR. The great philosopher, Yogi Berra, once said [congregation laughs], “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up someplace else.” [Laughs along with congregation]

And so one of the reasons we have a hard time starting is: We aren’t quite clear what we want! We aren’t kind of clear what we want to do. We aren’t quite clear what our priorities and goals are. We aren’t quite clear what our giftedness is. Or who we came here to be.

How many people have had a time where you just weren’t clear what to do? Where to go? Five people; perfect! [Congregation laughs] And it is important for us to get clear and say, “What is it that I really want? What is it that’s really calling me? What is my deepest desire? What is the thing I’m meant to fulfill? What is my next soul step?”

You know, clarity is about knowing what we want, and knowing why. Knowing the why. When Jesus said, “Ask and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you,” the underlying message is: Get clear. Give some time and some thought; listen to yourself deeply to know what you want and why. To know what that inner calling is.

So what is it that you would like your relationship to look like? Or your family life to look like? Or your career or creative expression to look like? What would you like for your spiritual life? And your deeper soul connection?

You know, the fact is: If we all believe in the Law of Attraction – if we all believe that what we put out into the Universe is what we get back … that what we ask for, we will receive – then what do we get back when we put out ambiguous, uncertain, wishy-washy energy and ideas about what we want. And sometimes we get surprised why these things aren’t working or coming together. And it is because we haven’t allowed the level of clarity to come forth from us.

You know, somebody once said, “The world clears a path who knows where they’re going.” And what it does is: When we don’t know where we’re going, it dissipates our energy. We run doing this and that, but when we are clear, guess what? It directs our energy. It focuses our energy. We tend to be more efficient and more effective. But it comes down to – the question is: Are you clear? What is it that you want to be? To create? To have? And to experience? Clarity is the first step to getting started.

The second one is to GET A PLAN. James Clear wrote a book that we did actually a little series on called, Atomic Habits. Because he absolutely believes that small, consistent habits is what makes greatness. It is what makes success. The little things we do on a regular basis are absolutely what are the reason behind our success.

He says this. He says, “If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again, not because of you, but because you have the wrong system! You don’t rise to the level of your goals; you rise to the level of your system.”

Do you know the reason most of us don’t achieve our New Year’s resolutions? It’s not because we don’t have a list; it’s because we don’t have a plan. That we don’t have a step-by-step idea of: What are the things that we actually need to do to get where we want?

You know, they did this study with three groups around getting them to exercise more. The first group: All they did was record all the exercise they did for the week. The second group was to record it, and also do some research on the benefits. And the third group was to record, research, but also to write down a plan … specifically like, “I will exercise for 20 minutes three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at my gym.” And the first two groups: They exercised at a level of 35%, 38%. But the group that had the plan? Ninety-one percent of them exercised.

And most of the time we think, “Oh, it’s an issue of … it’s a lack of motivation. I’m just not motivated.” And the truth is: That’s not it. It’s the others have a plan.

I’m sure you’ve all heard that people are more likely to vote if they know when they’re going to vote, and how they’re going to get to voting. It is amazing how a simple thing like a plan can help support us in achieving the things that we want to achieve.

So think of something you want in your life: something you’d like to start. And what are the who? And the how? And the where? And the when? And the how long? Because they absolutely support us when there’s a plan of actually getting started, getting moving, and continuing to achieve our goals.

Like, let’s say you wanted to not eat as much dessert or sugar. It would be a good plan to maybe not keep the cookies on the island, right available in the kitchen! [Congregation laughs] Another one we try to do and fool ourselves is: Put the cookies on the top shelf in the pantry. Anybody have a time where you didn’t eat cookies for a whole week but, on the seventh or eighth day, you knew where those cookies were? And you got a ladder, and you went and got those cookies? [Congregation laughs] See, sometimes we do things that don’t always support our own success! We come with the idea, “I want that!” but we don’t think through and support ourselves.

Nobody goes from zero to 60. So it’s important that a plan supports us taking stages and eventually getting there. The whole idea to hold a plan and just see the end without the steps in between actually kind of sabotages our success. And, of course, it’s about little steps. You know, if you want to be a writer, write 15 minutes three times a day. I mean three times a week. Or if you want to sell more, maybe four phone calls before breakfast. Or maybe if you want to exercise more, maybe talk a walk after lunch before you go back to work.

You know, in the last month, I have started a habit. And they say it’s the best habit! And you know what it is? It sounds ridiculous, but I started making up my bed. And I’ll tell you, I feel good. And you know what they say? That when you create good habits? Like seeing yourself doing that, you feel more order. You feel more clarity. You start your day feeling a sense of accomplishment. And the brain recognizes patterns, and it actually helps you facilitate being more effective in all areas of your life.

So are you willing to get a plan? Are you willing to create some steps that will support you in doing the things you need to do to get as far as you want to go?

Get clear. Get a plan. And the third one is to GET EXCITED. Ralph Waldo Emerson. The first inspirational quote I ever saw in my life was this one. And he said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

See, most people don’t – who achieve great things – don’t, aren’t “ho hum” about it; there’s something in them that gets excited. Something in them that gets jazzed. Something in them that looks forward to it, you know; that has joy in it. And so, if we really want to get started, we also just need to get excited. To get excited about what we’re doing.

But I think it’s important to get excited about yourself! Get excited about your own worthiness: your greatness, your goodness and your awesomeness! Sometimes we think, you know, “I’m just a loser.” You know, “If it wasn’t for luck, I would have no success at all.” We think all these negative things! But the fact is: You are God’s beloved child. You are an incredible creator! You’re a powerful spiritual being. You’re the temple of the Living God. You’re the light of the world! Life in God is celebrating itself as you! Through you!

We should get excited about the difference we’re here to make! The talents and abilities in ourselves. I think sometimes we sell ourselves so short. Settling in so many ways. Playing small in so many ways. And one of the things to overcome that is: Get excited about the truth of who you are, and the great things that you are here to do.

Somebody once said, “You don’t get want you want; you get what you are committed to.” And one of the things is: To be committed to feeling worthy of a new start. To feel that you’re absolutely deserving of the magic of a new beginning.

Get clear. Get a plan. Get excited.

And the last one is to GET ‘ER DONE! [Congregation laughs] Because at some point, you can plan all you want, but it requires some action! You’ve got to get moving!

Peter Bregman wrote a book called Leading with Emotional Courage. And, in it, he discovered what it is from inaction to action. From moving from the discomfort to the comfort. Or moving from comfort to the discomfort. And he said he learned it when he was on a retreat in California, and it was a program where they had to be in the hot tub for a while, and then go into this cold ice bath for a while. So the first day he did 20 minutes in the hot, and then he went over and got into the ice bath. But it took him quite a long time to even have the courage to do it. But he stayed in for five seconds. And he did that three times a day, every day, for the week he was there. I think he said it was 60 times he went in. And he went from five seconds to five minutes. And he said one of the things is: You can stare at that water all day long. But, at some point, you’ve got to get in.

That every one of us goes from our comfort to discomfort, and you’ve got to be okay transitioning there. And the only way to do it is with repetition. That you’ve got to take action and repeat it until it becomes a normal part.

Einstein said this: “Nothing happens until something moves.” And, when something vibrates, the electrons of the entire Universe resonate with it. That taking that action: something begins to happen. Something begins to change. Some deeper thing begins to register within us. Action is vital and important.

In the Book of James it says, “You will be blessed in your doing.” That it does take action. And the fact is: If you look at it, in every area of life, to give forth life, to learn and to grow requires action. A baby chick would not be alive if it didn’t take the action of pecking and breaking through that shell. A butterfly wouldn’t be a butterfly unless it broke through the chrysalis. You know, seeds have to fight through the soil to grow. Grass sometimes goes through concrete! The fact is that all of us need to do a certain bit of work, and we need to get it done.

G.K. Chesterton says a famous quote. And it’s, “If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing …? How many people would agree with that? How many people don’t even understand that? [Congregation laughs] Okay; great! ‘Cause I was in the second category!

So here’s my two interpretations of it. The first one is: Anything worth doing is worth doing badly to me says that nobody gets it perfect the first time. It takes time. And if you have to do it badly before you can do it excellently, magnificently or masterfully. Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team; he was not the greatest basketball player at that time. But he was willing to “do it badly” so he could do it greater, do it better, and do it more masterfully.

You know, there’s a thing called “The 10,000-Hour Rule” that says it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to get to a genius level. And, to me, that sounds intimidating, but I think it’s a powerful thing. Because it’s saying if you set the intention, and you put effort, over time you will get better and more masterful at anything you do in life … if you are willing to do the work and keep doing the work. Anything worth doing is worth doing badly means that: Start out badly, but you will get better if you hang in there.

The second one is, I think, to do things and do things for fun. And even if you don’t do it well, keep doing it if you’re having fun with it. Life isn’t just about extraordinary results; it’s also about enjoying things. I don’t play the harmonica well, but I have a good time playing it! [Congregation laughs] The fact that music comes out of this lips – or something that at least resembles music – gives me joy. I’m never going to be a great harmonica player.

If you like cooking, and enjoy it, just because you’re not a professional chef doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy it. And singing. And gardening. I could think of lots of things that we’re not really that good at, but they bring us joy. And sometimes you think if you’re not going to be good at it, don’t bother trying. But that doesn’t make sense! That robs us of joy!

To get started on things, and keep doing things, just for our own enjoyment … not necessarily to be masterful in it. It’s an important thing: to get ‘er done … for fun! And also for excellence.

Every one of us probably has a list that we say things like, “You know, one day I want to get around to it! One day when I have time I’m going to write that book. I’m going to do all those things.” And it’s good to have those lists. But it’s also important, at some point, to get started.

You know, the fact is: If you want to live a life you’ve never lived, you’ve got to do somethings you’ve never done. And that requires some action. It requires getting started.

There is something in us that knows it’s time to start: to start something new and to trust the magic of new beginnings. And the way to do that is to get clear; get a plan; get excited; and get ‘er done. Because, if you want a better life, it’s time! It’s time to start!

God bless you all!

 [Congregation applauds]

Copyright 2021 Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center/Rev. Richard Maraj

CLICK HERE to view Rev. Lori Fleming’s guided meditation during the service.

Location and Contact Information

Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center

1500 E Greenway Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85022
Phone: (602) 978-3200

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