Do you ever have the feeling that you're slowly falling behind on life, and you don't know if you'll ever catch up? Like you’re living in a fog?
Sometimes it shows up as depression, anxiety, or pain, but often, at least for me, you’re not sure what the hell is going on inside of you.
It’s called process, and it’s viewed as something to be avoided by most of us. But – you guessed it – process is not something to be avoided, but rather, as something to be embraced.
Process is where we find what we're made of.
In seasons of process, we experience the most transformational growth and maturity. It’s where we find out what we’re made of. It’s where we grow up. It’s where we find who we are.
Here is what a season of process often looks like for me:
Most days, about all I have the grace for is kind of stumbling through my days, often exhausted. My room is a disaster, my emotions are a mess, my heart is screaming “Listen to me! I’m trying to tell you something!”
My community goes to crap as I isolate myself and refuse to seek help. I tend to skip my to-do list and workout, and I have anxiety about the smallest things. I flail into bed exhausted and worn out most nights.
To contrast that, here is what a season of process DOESN’T look like for me:
When I’m thriving, I have the grace to be brutally disciplined. I can wake up at 6 AM, work-out, and read a book or two before breakfast. I keep a to-do list for the day, I keep my room clean, and I make quick, yet strong decisions that allow me to accomplish what I need to accomplish.
I am engaged with my community, and with my heart. My emotional world is stable and healthy. My mind and my heart are working together to help me do what I am called to do in each moment.
In process, our emotions are the first thing to be affected.
I feel like I've been in this "running on fumes" season for the past couple of months, but I'm slowly starting to move out of it. Past the fog and uncertainty.
But the crazy thing about all this? I usually don’t recognize which season I’m in until I’m coming out of it. I’m becoming more self-aware in all this, but it is still difficult to take a step back from my body and recognize what is actually going on inside.
In Part 1 of this process series, I'll be giving some encouragements for staying hopeful when you're in the middle of process.
1. LEARN TO STAY IN THE PAIN
I'm a runner. Like, not an actual track runner, but I run from pain.
Whenever I sense pain, I go the opposite way as fast as I can. I distract myself. I work. I mindlessly scroll through Facebook or Instagram. Because I don't want to feel the pain.
I'm afraid that if I feel my pain I'll see a part of myself that I don't want to see: I'll see me for who I truly am.
And subconsciously, that's scared the hell out of me. It scares me because I'm afraid that if I see myself for who I really am, I'll find that I'm broken and not good.
We're afraid that pain will show our faults and weaknesses.
But ignoring pain is dumb. It's everywhere, it's common, but it's not normal.
I know that pain will always show up in ways that I don't want it to if I don't learn how to deal with it now. But getting from "knowing" with my head, to really "knowing" it with my heart are two completely different things.
So this is where I'm learning to stay in the pain. To just sit with it. Sometimes I'll just sit on the couch or on my bed and do absolutely nothing. It's a helpless feeling.
Feeling pain is extremely awkward and uncomfortable.
You want to do something when you're feeling pain, but medicating it by distracting yourself from it will only prolong the process of healing.
Learn to sit with the pain. Feel it all. Be extremely uncomfortable.
Confront your past hurts. Identify the lies you've been believing. Forgive who you need to forgive. Ask for forgiveness as well. Move past your past, so that you can excel in your present and your future.
2. NOTHING IS WASTED
It's easy for me to wonder about "What if I'm not doing the right thing in my life? What if I'm missing my calling?"
But the truth is that everything happens for a reason. And there is a time and a place for everything. No season is wasted. No process is wasted.
Even if I think I've gone on a stupid rabbit trail, it's not stupid. That rabbit trail has a purpose in the end.
Someone told me "you cannot make mistakes." But... What if I screw up a relationship? What if I hurt someone's feelings? What if I waste years of my life chasing the wrong kind of success?
"You cannot make mistakes."
It flips the entire perspective.
There is a lesson I can learn in every little thing, no matter how dumb I think it is. Nothing is wasted. I cannot fail. I can only collect experiences that make me a more amazing person.
Your process is important and necessary. You might not the see the fruit of the pain for years, but know that you will see it eventually. Keep pressing in to the awkwardness of it all. You'll be richly rewarded.
Practical Next Steps
Get alone and stand in front of a mirror. Now look yourself in the eye. If this doesn't make you want to jump out of your skin and hide somewhere in a dark corner, I'm proud of you. Because for most of us, that's how we feel about ourselves.
When we can look ourselves in the eye and love who we see, we know that we've beaten shame. We've felt the pain, we've gone through the process, and we've learned to love ourselves. If you're not there yet, keep pushing forward. The Process is worth everything.