If ever there were a word I wrestled with, it is process. It’s a bit of a buzzword. I’m sure you’ve heard your fair share of opinions on the topic. Hopefully that doesn’t have you tuning out because I personally believe our ability to wrestle with process, and dare I even say DELIGHT in it, is a matter of life and death.
Just so we are on the same page when I say process, it is the general truth of existence that when we have a goal or particular end in mind, there are steps that must be taken over a period of time in order to achieve said goal. There are multiple processes at work in your life all the time--from relationships, wholeheartedness, to reaching that health goal you’ve set—but those are all smaller pieces of the Grand Process that is your life. That’s ultimately the process I want you to consider while reading this.
In my experience there are three camps when it comes to embracing process:
1. Resist & avoid. You resist process at all cost. You avoid commitments or relationships that will take any length of time to develop. Slowness feels like a death sentence. And your expectations of yourself and others are unattainable. You are often disappointed with yourself and others.
2. White Knuckle. You have accepted process is necessary to get the things you want, but you are trying to muscle your way through it. Your knuckles are white with self-determination, and the process is nothing but a means to an end.
3. Embrace it. You’ve embraced process as the divine order of life and savor the sacredness of it.. You understand that process is the meat of the journey, and you allow yourself to feel your feelings at every stage.
At the age of 24 I was in camp “resist & avoid”. I was in a pattern of unhealthy relational cycles which were escalating and causing intense damage to my heart and life despite a decade of walking with Jesus the best I knew how. I found myself at a crossroads after a particularly destructive relationship imploded (thank you Jesus), and in the midst of the ruins of my life strewn about, God invited me into a healing journey. I will never forget the moment when His eyes met mine after an excruciating gut-cry for mercy and He simply said with the infinite kindness of our Father, “We are going to pick up where we left off”. After I broke every vow and blew up my life with poor choices, He welcomed me back with joy.
When I accepted His invitation I moved into camp “White Knuckle”. I decided if Jesus loved me that much I was determined to say yes to the healing process no matter how painful. The fear of pain and the resulting self-protection had been my unconscious way of life up until that point. As it became painfully clear I wasn’t going to become wholehearted over night, that indeed there was a process that was going to have to run its course, I gritted my teeth and just said yes over and over until that became my new way of being. I fell in love with Jesus through that process, and was daily undone by His gentleness--but we are not meant to stay in white knuckle city. That’s not where abundant life resides!
I found myself stealthily moving into camp “Embrace it” when I was in my first Wholehearted and Courageous group when I was 34. Yes, 10 years of white knuckle! Is it any wonder that panic attacks were knocking at my door? Undiagnosable health issues. Anxiety. I was connected and committed to God, but I was still very much in process of surrendering to His ways of process.
That is also when my journey as an artist was reignited after several years of hibernation. I had spent years mending my relationship with God and now I was mending my relationship with myself. I started painting everyday and through the creative process I began to trust my heart again. I started to like her, and enjoy her and embrace the beautiful process she’s been through. As I put paint to canvas over and over and over and learned to speak kindly to my heart, I discovered the sacredness of process. I learned how to embrace the middle when it just feels messy and actually delight in it!
I call it sacred because I believe it is a gift from God. He chose to set His creation within the bounds of space and time thus setting into motion the reality of process. There will come a time when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess He is Lord, but for now we are all in process. We get to choose Him and His ways everyday! It's the process of finding Him. Of finding Truth. The process of finding ourselves and making the wholehearted and eternally important decision to love God, yourself and others all the days of your life. Since God is only capable of giving good gifts, then process is innately good.
So how do you know if you are resistant to process? Glad you asked! :) It’s identifiable from the fruit. When we resist process the fruit is often needless frustration, perfectionism, isolation, self-protection, doubt, hopelessness, negativity and a victim mindset, just to name a few. Is there an area of your life you are wishing you could just push the fast forward button on? Are there hard conversation you are avoiding because the fear of discomfort has you paralyzed? Is self-protection hindering you from true intimacy in relationships? Has a particularly difficult season thrown you of course and caused you to doubt yourself and your God? If the answer is yes to any of these I have REALLY good news for you! It’s OK. You’re in process!
If you're feeling the nudge to surrender even more to process I would joyfully suggest something simple. Find something new to learn that you've never done before. Something fun, challenging, even scary. Whatever it is, step out in faith as a commitment to yourself and embrace all the triggers that come about while learning a new thing. As you get triggered, talk to Holy Spirit and ask Him to tell you the truth. He's really good at that! If you commit to your heart to listen to her voice and surrender to process you will be better for it. Not perfect, but better.