It's a Process
Ever since my post on abiding (check it out here), I have had so many conversations with people who are dealing with anxiety. Nearly every case had to do with the person feeling overwhelmed by a future task (or tasks). They felt that, in their present state, they were not ready to face a specific future challenge.
Most of them were right - their present selves were not yet prepared for the future task(s). But they overlooked a simple truth... Their present selves will never have to face the future task. By the time they get to that point in the future, they will have undergone that much more growth... because life is a process.
Understand the process.
As we grow, we develop. It's part of our nature; it's how we were built. We grow. We learn. We practice. We make mistakes. We learn. We adjust. We grow.
It may not be very noticeable on a day-to-day basis but when we step back for a moment and reflect on our process, growth will often be apparent. When we take a step back from the daunting task ahead and understand that we will grow through seasons of growth before we get there, when we look for the "little" things we can do in preparation of those future tasks, everything suddenly seems less daunting.
Respect the process.
When it comes to the process of growth, I think that the more recent generations (myself included) have a more deluded view of growth than those who have come before us. After all, we are the "microwave generation." We like everything done quickly - including growth. Even if all other evidence seems to point to the contrary.
Like me, you have probably watched too many movies of a fast-forwarded process of an individual or group's self-discovery; "everyday," "ordinary" people who, in the span of two to three hours of our actual life, discover who they are, what they are called to do, and go on to do great things. Wrong.
It took Noah the better part of a century to build the ark.
Abraham waited 25 years for the arrival of his promised son.
The Israelites wandered around the desert for 40 years.
David was crowned king 15 years after he was anointed to be king.
JESUS, the Son of God, God Himself, waited 30 years before beginning His ministry.
Growth and development take time and patience (and time... and patience...). An elementary school student should not concern him/herself with calculus and towny page research papers. The time will come when he or she is ready to face those things. Until then, he or she need only focus on the tasks ahead - addition, subtraction, reading, writing, cursive (*shudders*). There is a series of things to learn before getting "there." There is a process.
Celebrate the process.
My older daughter is five. She's learning how to read and spell these days. I don't expect her to read or write a novel. I don't think she's stupid because she can't read or write words like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. She doesn't think so either. In fact, the opposite is true. We get excited and celebrate together when she reads her cute little words like mom, dad, red, and brown... because she's still in the process of learning. We all are.
Yet, somewhere in the process of what we call, "growing up," we lose the joy of celebrating the process. The little victories don't seem so great anymore and we begin projecting expectations on ourselves that we aren't ready for.
Reflect on where you are. See where you've come from. See where you're headed. Celebrate.
Life is a process. That will never change. We will always grow, always develop. There will always be a more and a next. Don't be anxious. Don't stress. Enjoy the process. And may the peace of God that transcends all understanding guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, amen.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)