Ever get stuck in those places where you are continually looking ahead, around, behind…anywhere but where you are? Feelings of discontentment rise as you are faced with the place you can’t seem to escape: where you are at. When I find myself here, in this state of mind, I tend to focus on all the things I’m not, but hopefully think to the places I could be. Whether its a physical place, that next step in my career, the next stage in life that everyone around me seems to be enjoying and flourishing in, or that next step of growth in my faith. It’s so easy for me to look at where I’m at, and use what’s next as motivation to hurry up and get out of that place. Get better, know more, excel quicker.
While in LA this summer, I had a moment when I realized the danger of the condition and state of mind I was in. I was on my way to church one morning with a couple friends from out of town, and on the way, we passed by a really unique looking coffee shop. New places like this always make my heart skip a beat, so I asked if we could stop and grab a coffee before we got there. The friends obliged, and we ran in hoping for a quick pick-me-up. Well, this shop in particular had never heard of the concept house coffee, but instead, even just a plain cup-of-joe was a fancy pour over. Now, usually, when I have time, I embrace this. But, seeing as we were on a time crunch, it was probably the most inconvenient method there could have been. Tapping my foot, nervously watching the barista, I watched as he carefully took his time with each drink, crafting to perfection. Pouring a little water, letting it settle, waiting a few minutes, pouring some more. It’s a beautiful craft, it really is, but all I could think of was “At Starbucks I would have been in and out.” There. It hit me.
Now, you may think I’m being a little over-dramatic, but for me, this whole scenario was very significant and revealed a lot about the way I had been living life. Because of my impatience, I would have rather had a cheaper, less-quality drink faster, than a perfected, full-tasting creation taking a little more time. What does that say about me? It says I’m content with sub-par, get-the-job-done, short-term fixes. Now, thats a little harsh, but still, you get the picture. How often do we neglect embracing the process, though sometimes lengthy, that will end up giving us better, fuller-quality results. Whether it be with relationships, inner-healing, growth, or fill-in-the-blank, we sell ourselves short too easily because of our impatience in the process.
Not too long ago, I heard Christine Caine give a talk about a similar topic. She was speaking on developing as a leader in ‘the darkroom’. She compared this process of development to the process of developing film photos in the darkroom. When developing film photos, the film goes through a process of chemicals and negative exposure completely in the dark before it is ready to be taken out into the light. They have to fully develop in these chemicals through a lengthy, detailed process, perfectly executed, before they are able to exit the darkroom and be exposed to the light. If light hits the photo too quickly, the entire photo turns black and is ruined. But, if developed properly, when you take it into the light, you have a beautiful print! Now here’s my film photography class coming in handy: this. process. is. annoyingly. long. It’s not a one-and-done per photo. Sometimes, developing just one photo would take 3-4 tries before it was developed correctly. Its lengthy, sometimes frustrating, and takes a lot of patience. Sound familiar? How many times have we sped through ‘the process’ because its too hard, or takes too long, only to be exposed to a hard situation and collapse? What about the times when we’ve embraced with open arms this ‘process’, and have seen that when the exposure, the recognition, the opportunities come, we’re fully ready and equipped.
There is a strong correlation between success, contentment, and internal well-being and embracing the lengthy process. It takes time to develop, it takes facing your fears to become brave, it takes the journey of healing to help mend others’ wounds, and it takes looking at your true-self in the mirror (with all your flaws and insecurities and short-comings) to see the places that need the most love, healing, and development.
So, here’s to the process. Here’s to the moments of resting in who you are right now so that you can one day look back knowing yourself, who you’ve been, and who you’ve become. Here’s to living in the now, knowing we can never get today back tomorrow. Here’s to those dreams you’ve held captive out of fear that they wont work out. Here’s to the small, seemingly insignificant, starts that make those dreams a reality. Embrace now. Embrace the small moments. Embrace the failures and the little victories. Embrace the impatience, the wounds that are just starting to mend, the truth that echoes in the stillness: the process is the journey.