Oh, How I Despise the Process

I was sitting in my small group last night when we were talking about writing, specifically writing papers for classes. Everyone in my small group is under 25, so we’re either fresh out of college or in the middle of the education experience. One of them, our leader’s wife, is going to grad school online and was talking about how she loves writing papers. I then uttered one of the most truest things I’ve ever said about myself:

Writing is the only process I like, every other process in life I hate.

I’ll write about writing here in a few days hopefully, as this is the 99th post I’ve published on this blog and I’ve got a cracker coming for the 100th. So I’ll cover that more later. But I want to talk about the second part of that statement.

The most evident example of me hating “the process” is my dislike for school and education. Now, I’ll teach people, and I’ll instruct people. But me actually sitting in a classroom and learning: no. It’s something I very strongly dislike. By the time my senior year of college rolled around, I would dread going to class, I would despise having to do homework. But here’s the catch: when I actually did what I was learning to do, I loved it.

I was a journalism major in college, so my education was learning how to write articles and stories in a way that incorporated quotes, imagery, facts and events and grabbed people’s attention and informed them of what they needed to know. That was what I learned how to do. Actually sitting in class and learning how to do it, I dreaded. But when I got to go to football or basketball games for my student newspaper, or covered high school athletics for the newspaper in Burlington, I loved it. I was actually putting what I was learning into practice.

There’s positives to this approach. I tend to want to get things done, so dilly-dallying is something I rarely partake in because I realize how little that actually helps. I work quickly and, mostly, efficiently. I edit as I go, so mistakes usually don’t linger long. For the most part, I’m aware of how things in the present will affect things in the future.

Qui-Gon-Jinn-and-Obi-Wan-Kenobi-qui-gon-jinn-and-obi-wan-kenobi-4288304-600-384But here’s the catch. As the exchange goes in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace:

OBI-WAN: I have a bad feeling about this.

QUI-GON: I don’t sense anything.

O-W: It’s not about the mission, Master. It’s something elsewhere, elusive.

Q-G: Don’t center on your anxieties, Obi-Wan. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.

O-W: But Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future.

Q-G: But not at the expense of the moment.

You may mock me for this, but I have kept that quote close to heart in the last few years. It is a common practice of mine to be anxious (something I’ll write more about soon), so it’s easy for me to be focused on the result and not on the process. I’m mindful of the future, yes, but often at the expense of the moment. I often either miss out on what’s going on or don’t learn what I need to from the present because I’m spending so much time on the unknown, on what could happen, on what it all means.

Therefore, I’ve discovered that I hate the process. I can’t stand the twists and turns that come with getting to where I’m going. And oftentimes that’s caused me to quit in the middle of the process because it’s not getting to where I want it to get to. Relationships, school, work, sanctification, following Jesus, being healthy. If it’s a process, I probably don’t like going through it.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that going through the process is part of the game. It’s part of this thing called life where we’ve got to live with a bit of uncertainty, we’ve got to be OK with not knowing everything and just living in the moment. It’s not easy for everyone. For me, it’s one of the more difficult things I deal with because I just want to get it all figured out, I just want to get to the end. I want it to be easy. I want it to all be done for me in a moment.

But that’s not how life works.

What’s the cure to dealing with this? How do I appropriately respond to this?

The biggest takeaway from me has been this: God works through the process. It’s been one of the most difficult things for me to accept and believe. There are still moments throughout each day where I’m thinking, “God, why can’t You just make everything happen now? Why can’t You just solve it all at once? Why can’t I just know now?”

The only thing that happened at once is my justification – my salvation from my sin, accomplished the moment I believed, because of Christ’s death on the cross.

I then think about all the things that are worth having in life and realize this: they’re all processes. Romantic relationships. Good jobs. College degrees. Discipleship opportunities. Sanctification. Deep friendships. Those things don’t come overnight. They’re work, work often in progress several times throughout my lifetime.

  • I think about the friendships I’ve developed and realize they didn’t get to where they are in one 24-hour span.
  • I think about my college degree and what I’ve learned and realize it took four years – plus all the education before that – to get it.
  • I think about my sanctification and realize it won’t be done in this lifetime, but everything I’ve grown in so far didn’t happen overnight and is a blessing from God to be appreciated.

God really does work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Often it just takes a lot longer than we’d desire.

But it’s totally, 100 percent worth it.

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