Life moves fast –
& sometimes we can get so wrapped up in the whirlwind that we forget to stop and acknowledge the victories. To celebrate progress. To relish in the process.
Oy. There it is^ that awful word. Process. Also synonymous with the term Journey. Also synonymous with the word Life.
I hear my mom’s voice tapping gently on my mind’s stubborn, goal-locked and double checked door: “Kristen, it can’t happen all at once. Do what’s in front of you, one thing at a time. Enjoy the journey.”
^ She’s always right, you know.
And much to my dismay, it can’t happen all at once.
So where does that leave us- the crazy folks like you and me- the dreamers and the doers? How do we walk the ever so fine line of dreaming and goal setting while also remaining present and patient and joyful in the midst of the dirt and grit of a sometimes seemingly mundane or just altogether frustrating process? How do we learn to celebrate the victories when we find ourselves not quite as far along as we hoped we’d be by now or when we’re just eager to get to the really really good stuff? Good question. When you have the answer to that delicate balance- let me in on it, will ya? (I’m kidding, of course) (sort of).
I find myself navigating carefully in this delicate and complicated balance- often. And here’s what I’ve learned. I’ve learned to trust the Process. I’ve learned to take time to relish in the things and moments that could be easily overlooked. To celebrate the small victories as well as the big ones.
Yes, goal setting is great. Having laser beam focus and stubborn determination, also great. Wanting to create a life that is brimming with meaning, truly wonderful. But it simply isn’t done in one fell swoop.
It can’t happen all at once.
A masterpiece is painted one stroke at a time. And at the risk of stating something stupidly obvious, I’m going to venture to say that Van Gogh didn’t just haphazardly dump a bunch of paint onto a canvas to create Starry Night.
He needed process. He needed tools. He needed time. Time to learn the hows and when’s to use said tools. And so do we.
But so often we grow weary of the process. We start to doubt our abilities. We forget to celebrate the victorious steps we’ve taken forward and we begin to lose sight. And we find ourselves uninspired, questioning God’s plan and our overall purpose. Stuck in limbo. Longing for more. Hungry for meaning.
I have often felt as though I am teetering in this constant state of limbo waiting on God to give me some clear road signs. But the thing about faith is, much of the time the answers we want don’t come in the form of massive billboards or huge road signs. Many times they come in the single steps we take every day – trusting that in spite of ourselves He can guide and direct us exactly where we need to be, preparing us and giving us the tools that we need a long the way.
THAT’S process. That’s where we spend most of our time. That’s where we live. Yes, sometimes it can feel messy, uninspiring, and maybe even a little pointless. But if we’re being completely honest, we spend a lot more time here- IN the process- than we do at the end of it.
It doesn’t always feel like progress, but growth rarely does until we take a moment look back on where we’ve been- at the distance we’ve covered in the small and faithful steps. These are the steps that prepare us for the big victories and the big leaps forward. These are the things that temper our endurance and ultimately give the victories weight and meaning. These are the steps that matter.
I’m always astonished at how these seemingly small steps of obedience taken in sheer faith constantly prove to be instrumental in the bigger picture that God is painting of our lives.
I sit and I write this: as a reminder to myself, to my friends, to any person who may be feeling stuck, uninspired, unremarkable, or simply unsure whether or not their efforts have been worthwhile- I know that you’re anxious to get to the masterpiece. I know you want your life to be full of depth and width and wonder and beauty and meaning. That innate desire is there by design- woven into the very fiber of your incredibly crafted human nature. I say this because unlike a butterfly, or a tree, or a clownfish, or a hippopotamus, or any other creature you can imagine- You were made in the very image of the Author of Creation itself. Set apart. Distinguished. Different by Design. Loved. Cherished. Worthy. One of a kind. His greatest work of art.
Out of all of the magnificent wonders and sights- from the breathtaking hues of the Aurora Borealis, to the sweeping sands of the Sahara, to the sparkling waters of the most magnificent oceans- when God looks at You, He sees his greatest Masterpiece. When He looks at you, his heart bursts with uncontained, unrestrained Love and Joy. When you let out a cry, his heart is moved. When you pray, He bends down to listen with heartfelt and tender care and when you need breakthrough, He moves mountains. All because He loves you, deeply. Not just when you’re at your best. No. He loves you in the mountaintop victories and the shadow-filled valleys. He loves you in your doubt. He loves you in your questioning. He loves you in your wandering.
And when I find myself feeling stuck and unsure and doubting the process- I reset my gaze on my Creator. I remember Whose I am. And then I take a step. And I take another step. And I take another. And another. And another.