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Start Where You Stand

I felt like a failure. The morning had not gone well. With three little children, ages 5 and under, getting out the door to church had been another uphill battle. We were on Home Leave Assignment to deliver our baby, and her shocking early arrival with life-threatening B strep had these two young parents rattled. Why, we had recently placed a full bag of clothes and a port-a-crib on top of the car we were loading, driven off with the items on top, and never heard from them again! We were a mess. So, sitting in the cushioned pew with the spring sunshine streaming through the window, I felt drained and defeated. What was to become of us? At that moment, no one could have convinced me that a lifetime of encouragement was just waiting in the wings.

Thirty five years hence, I celebrate the teaching of that one Sunday morning. Our beloved pastor Dr. Wilson Benton must have taught a passel of principles, but this weak, depleted young mother of 3 heard only one - one principle for life and godliness: Start Where You Stand.

Start Where You Stand is a poem by Berton Braley. I know little about the poet, and the content itself is not committed to memory. 

What I do remember and found transforming, is the simple, but profound, life-giving title:

Start Where You Stand

Start Where You Stand has become a life principle for me, for our marriage, and for our leadership. 

Start Where You Stand keeps one from sitting in self-pity, and protects from the quack mire of self-focus. Let it go and lean forward.

Start Where You Stand is a practical answer to swirling questions:

          How do I rebound from this foolish decision? Start Where You Stand

          How do I recover from this mistake? Start Where You Stand

          How do I release this failure and move on? Start Where You Stand

Deanna Favre, breast cancer survivor and wife of legendary NFL quarterback Brett Favre, says,“Don’t live life looking in the rearview mirror.” - an earthy way of saying, Start Where You Stand.

The Apostle Paul, long before Braley and long before Favre, said this, too, in Philippians 3:13b: “Forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what is ahead.” 

My personal challenges of being a young mother are long gone, just like the valued items on top of the car. But the challenges of life are not gone. Still, I benefit from the powerful, practical teaching delivered in the words: Start Where You Stand. I share the poem; I share the principle; I share my personal growth from this simple concept that has takes root, and for 35 years, has born life-giving fruit. 

Start Where You Stand
By Berton Braley

Start where you stand and never mind the past,
The past won't help you in beginning new,
If you have left it all behind at last
Why, that's enough, you're done with it, you're through;
This is another chapter in the book,
This is another race that you have planned,
Don't give the vanished days a backward look,
Start where you stand.

The world won't care about your old defeats,
If you can start anew and win success,
The future is your time, and time is fleet
And there is much of work and strain and stress;
Forget the buried woes and dead despairs,
Here is a brand new trial right at hand,
The future is for him who does and dares,
Start where you stand.

Old failures will not halt, old triumphs aid,
To-day's the thing, to-morrow soon will be;
Get in the fight and face it unafraid,
And leave the past to ancient history;
What has been, has been; yesterday is dead
And by it you are neither blessed nor banned,
Take courage, man, be brave and drive ahead,
Start where you stand.


Question: How do you find this principle to be personally helpful in what you are facing today?