Happy New Year everyone! It’s 2016. January 1st. The start of a brilliant new year.
The chill in the air and the sun shining through my window just keeps reminding me of the promise of hope found in the start of something new. My heart is settled and expectant for all that is to come.
But then again, I’m pretty sure you feel it too, there’s also that nagging pull of pressure that I’m not where I should be on the first day of 2016. It’s 3:30 pm and I’m still in my pajamas. I had a slice of carrot cake for lunch. I still haven’t brushed my teeth or washed my face and I’m not sure if it’s even going to happen until it’s time again for bed. I’ve piddled around, filled out some addresses for save the dates (yippie!) and basically have done a whole lot of nothing all day long. The one major accomplishment I’ve had so far today is that I’m starting my first book for 2016. And I’m blogging. So I’d say that’s a win.
I tend to be the kind of person who has no grace for myself on days like today. Because if I was really good and I really had myself together, I would have exercised. I would have eaten more vegetables. I would have done more and controlled myself and stuck close to perfection. And all the while, I forget that everything that I’m striving for (health, joy, meaning, relationship, etc.) is a process. A steady progression towards a goal.
And maybe it’s because I’m marrying a man who is much more patient and slower-paced than I am, but my heart has been tugging the last few days of the year, asking the question, “Why do I have to be in a rush to get it right all the time? Why am I so afraid of the process?”
Process is uncomfortable, because we’re stuck in the in-between of who we’ve been and where we’re going and who we’re going to be. Process means that we have to sit patiently with who we are now, and most of the time that person is a lot more flawed and messy then we were hoping he or she would be. It’s like being in a tiny waiting room where the only other person in there is sitting too close to you and sneezing and weezing and coughing too loud. And it takes every ounce of self control that you have not to get up and run screaming out of the room. It’s a choice to sit there and breathe and to trust that it’s going to be over and you will feel better at some point in the future. I know that’s a silly analogy, but it feels like that’s the way I feel with myself so much of the time. I’m annoyed and perplexed that I haven’t gotten myself together yet, and then am baffled when my high-pressure demands and expectations only lead me to shut down and give up on the whole changing process at all.
We all have someone we want to become in 2016, some area we want to grow in, some part of ourselves we want to leave behind. And my prayer is that we get to those places. But I’m starting to believe that in order to get there, it’s going to take us being a lot more patient, empathetic, and kind.
I was listening to a brilliant podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert and Brené Brown last night, and as they were talking, Brown mentioned the importance of having empathy for yourself. She said we have to start speaking to ourselves the way we would speak to someone we love who is going through a hard time. We have to hope for ourselves the way that we hope for our friends. She called it a necessity.
And all the sudden in the middle of this podcast, I felt the Father’s loving whisper to me–to let this be a process.
I want us to grow this year. I want to savor the moments and forgive and let go of the things that are weighing me down. I want to drink deep of God’s word and memorize scripture and get lost in the beauty that’s around me. I want to laugh with my friends and throw dinner parties and take care of my body, soul, spirit, and mind. I want to be different than I am today on the last day of 2016. But in order to really be different, in order to fully experience this beautiful year and to walk away from it more loving and gentle and wise, I have to give myself grace. I have to remember that I don’t have to arrive where I want to be at the end of the year on the first day of 2016. I don’t have to have all of it together already.
And these are my five words that are helping me get to that place, the place of being gentle with where I’m at today, the place of having hope for what’s to come, for who I’m growing into: let this be a process.
Let this be a process.
Let your life be a process. Let your relationships be a process. Let for faith be a process. Let all that seems so unresolved and unknown and scary rest safe in the arms of the Father. Let your heart settle, let the air fill your lungs as you breathe, and remember–you do not have to arrive today. You just have to let this be a process. Let them take the time they need to grow and change and bloom.
I think it’s so profound that in so many places in scripture, there is talk of trees and plants and things (Psalm 1, Jeremiah 1, Isaiah 41, Psalm 52, Mark 4). Because if you’ve ever gardened, you know how long of a process it can be to see the fruit of your labor. You have to till the earth, plant the seeds, water them, make sure they get enough light, protect them from other species, and you have to wait. And what makes us think that we aren’t deserving of that patience that we give the trees, the people we love, etc.? What makes us think that we don’t deserve the same compassion and empathy and faith that we so willingly extend?
It’s 2016. There’s so much in store for you friend. But are we going to give ourselves the grace to grow and process, or are we going to spend the year closed off, resentful, for the fact that we aren’t who we thought we would be.
These five words to let it be a process are my silent, internal prayer. They’re the words I’m writing on my mirror, on the front of my planner, the words I’m whispering to myself throughout the day.
Let this year be a process. Let yourself receive grace. Yes, it takes time, but you are becoming. And the glory at the end is definitely worth the wait.