Trust the Process

Spring Unfolding

Spring Unfolding

In a society focused on results and end products, it is easy to forget that you can’t create without going through a process of creation. You may say you have a certain goal or end result in mind, but often the actual work may take you in another direction. And many times a seemingly messy detour becomes the path to something unexpected and wonderful.

Sometimes the process includes unexpected time out. That time out may be a business setback that plunges you into deep waters as you work to survive and pay your bills. A layoff or hiring freeze means that the bright career plans are put on hold. The collapse of the music industry or tremendous changes in the book industry can mean that even successful writers and performers find themselves without a livelihood, having to reinvent not only their careers, but who they are and how to offer their gifts in a chaotic marketplace. Sometimes it’s a family emergency, and you may find yourself in the role of caretaker, putting your own life on hold while you walk with a loved one through the valley of the shadow of death. It might be a mistake you or someone else made, a change in market conditions, an unexpected emergency or health crisis. It could even be as simple as a creative project that didn’t come out the way you hoped, leaving you wondering whether you should try to salvage it or start all over again. 

Take it one day at a time. Instead of trying to second guess the future, look at what you have right now. What can be accomplished today? Concentrate only on what you are able to do today. Do what you can and let go of trying to control the outcome. All you can do is do your best and leave the rest up to God. In most of the important things in life, we are dependent on the nature of creation and time, the grace of the Life Force flowing in us and carrying us through the events and processes of living.

In the larger perspective of life, eternal lessons teach us that trust and patience are required for the things that are really important. It takes time to raise a child, write a book, nurture a relationship, grow a career, and create a community. Think of a farmer patiently waiting for seed, soil, sun, and rain to do its work. The field must be plowed, the seed sown, the land fertilized and watered, the soil weeded, and the crop tended before it comes to full fruition. So it is with us. 

Trusting the process is a form of letting go. You can try to predict and control life, but life is larger and more gloriously complex than the calculating planning part of the human brain can comprehend. When some plan or project is on hold, trust that it, too, is part of the process. It has been said that we make our plans—and God laughs. So why not laugh along? Or at least stop resisting and open your mind to receive new insights. 

Trust that the goodness of life itself will lead you if you keep going. Trust the process of its unfolding. When a butterfly is working its way out of its cocoon, it is no kindness to cut the cocoon to make emergence easier. The struggle itself is an essential part of the process. When a human hand interferes with the process, the butterfly’s wings are undeveloped. It cannot fly. It dies. When the butterfly’s struggle is done in nature’s time, the emergence may last longer than our impatient hearts can stand. But when the butterfly finally emerges from this birthwork, it spreads its wings to dry, and then flies into its destiny. When you are stressed because your own process seems to be one of struggle and delay, remember the butterfly. Trust that a greater process is happening; that all this is working together for your good and your growth. 

Whether you are creating a work of art or a life, trust the process. Let go of your expectations and let what you are doing lead you from one step to another. Do your best and leave the results to God.


Trust God from the bottom of your heart. Don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go.
Proverbs 3:5-6 THE MESSAGE

By going a few minutes sooner or later, by stopping to speak with a friend on the corner, by meeting this man or that, or by turning down this street instead of the other, we may let slip some impending evil, by which the whole current of our lives would have been changed. There is no possible solution in the dark enigma but the one word, “Providence.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sometimes providences, like Hebrew letters, must be read backward.
John Flavel

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. 
Eleanor Roosevelt

• Do a creative project, such as building model airplanes or knitting, and watch the process unfold. Meditate on the processes unfolding in your life.

Life on the farm is a school of patience; you can’t hurry the crops or make an ox in two days.
Henri Fournier Alain

I find that it is not the circumstances in which we are placed, but the spirit in which we face them, that constitutes our comfort.
Elizabeth T. King

Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.
Chaung Tzu

Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they might have been.
William Hazlitt

The greatest and most important problems in life are all in a certain sense insoluble. They can never be solved, but only outgrown.
Carl Jung

The chief pang of most trials is not so much the actual suffering itself as our own spirit of resistance to it.
Jean Nicholas Grau

Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work.
Peter Marshall

Nature magically suits a man to his fortunes, by making them the fruit of his character.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

On every level of life from housework to the heights of prayer, in all judgment and all efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are the sure marks of an amateur.
Evelyn Underhill

A Season of Waiting

I have been working like mad on my first e-book, Inner Abundance, and it’s in the final edit and formatting stage. It’s been a long and heavy pregnancy with this book baby. There has been lot of wrestling with fear and doubt, especially because of the new e-book format. It hasn’t felt as “real” as a physical book with an established publisher. It’s a brave new world and there are no guarantees that this will work, only good people who have created their own e-book successes to encourage me. Now it’s almost ready in the text-only version that will be available for all the e-book formats. A PDF-only full color photo version will come later. Stay tuned for the birth announcement. Inner Abundance will soon be a bouncing baby book!

I wrote this meditation a few years ago, but even with a milder than usual summer here in Nashville, an inner heat wave has enveloped me. I wrote more wisely than I realized when I wrote this meditation on waiting. 

Heat Wave

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
--Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

The air is heavy with waiting. This is the hot breathless time of soaring summer temperatures, Bermuda highs, and killer humidity. It is a still time, when no breezes blow, no rain falls, and the sun beats down with its highest intensity. You can almost hear the plants growing, and you see daily development in the garden. But it is too uncomfortable to stay out very long. The minute you step outdoors, your clothing sticks to you, clinging to a body that is instantly covered with sweat. In this weather, only the bugs seem happy and comfortable. 

This is the time of waiting. You may be a gardener waiting for the plants to produce. Or you may be cultivating your own life, waiting for projects to come to fruition and dreams to come true. There comes a season in every life where the heat is on and all you can do is wait.

Sometimes it just takes waiting for the right timing. And during the season of high heat, timing is often not in your favor. You have to sweat it out. Do you have a project you’ve been working on that suddenly seems blocked or stopped? Are you waiting on someone else’s necessary decision, only to find out they’re on summer vacation and won’t be back until next week? Do processes feel like they’re being dragged out and results few and far between? Does your spiritual life feel meaningless, your prayer closet like a sauna, and a breath of fresh air seem as far away as a dream? Welcome to the dog days of the summer heat wave. 

St. John of the Cross talked about the dark night of the soul. Other spiritual masters talk about the silence of the senses. The humidity of a soul sweating out the work of time and the timing of the Creator is like a heat wave, deadening the senses into numb misery. It seems like an endless spiritual desert. Yet it is in the desert that saints and monks have purified their souls and found spiritual insight and clarity. If you are in a season of difficult waiting, perhaps God is developing the fruit of the Spirit in you. Just as a sweat breaks a fever and releases toxins, so this travail of the soul and body could be releasing impurities that keep you from spiritual health and well being. 

A time of waiting is part of life’s process and there is no way to avoid it, no shortcut around it. We have three possible responses: we can fight it, we can whine about it, or we can accept it as a necessary time for spiritual development. 

Sometimes in the early stages of a heat wave, we fight it. Angry that our vacation plans don’t include avoiding this discomfort and that circumstances demand our presence in this unpleasant weather, we are anxious, frustrated, and trying to figure a way out—any way out, at any price, as soon as possible. When we realize there is no way out and that we have to just slog through the heat, we grumble and complain. But whining can make the atmosphere even more unpleasant than the muggy humidity of waiting. We make the hard times harder with a negative attitude.

Then there is the way of acceptance. Sooner or later we come to the time when we must make this choice: will we accept the circumstance, adapt to the situation, and wait out God’s timing? If we choose the way of acceptance, there is no guarantee that the heat will lessen or that the weather will change any sooner. What we do discover, however, is that we can cope with this waiting in the heat, perhaps even learn from it. 

Here in the South, you learn to hibernate in the heat and choose your times of emergence into the outdoors wisely. You turn up the air conditioner during the day, wait till evening or early morning to do your hard work. You drink plenty of water, take it easy during the hottest part of the day, and wear comfortable clothes you can sweat into. You don’t just have to hibernate in the refrigerated indoors, however. You can also embrace the heat and immerse yourself in things as they are, rather than putting your energy into wishing for what isn’t. Spending time outdoors, embracing the heat, actually helps you cope, as your body adjusts to the temperatures and builds strength to endure.

In the southern summer I have learned take long early morning or twilight walks in clothes that I plan to sweat in, carrying bottled water to keep myself hydrated. I move more slowly and take time to look and listen to what nature is doing. There on the banks of Lake Radnor, I listen to the call of the bullfrog, watch the deer and geese feed in the green pond goo of duckweed, see the waterbugs dance on the surface of the lake, making patterns like raindrops across its surface. I feel the silky warmth of the humid evening on my bare arms, become aware of the sensuousness of the misty night. I plan on cool showers when I get home and a long tall iced tea or lemonade. I eat more lightly, adapting to my body’s diminished appetite in the heat. 

When I am battened down in my air conditioned office, I disperse essential oils into the atmosphere to remind me of the mountains and cool breezes I long for: tree scents of cedar, spruce, juniper, pine, and fir; and herb scents of spearmint, peppermint, lavender, thyme, and marjoram. I listen to my body and take naps when possible. I allow myself to be more sluggish and respect the power of the heat and humidity. People die in these conditions when they don’t adapt or take care of themselves. And I wait, doing what work I can, but also knowing that the change in the weather is in God’s timing, not my own. I practice the difficult art of patience. 

When you are in a waiting time, it is time to let go and let God. It sounds simplistic, but there are seasons when we as creatures need to work with the rhythms of creation and wait on the timing of the Creator, whether we want to or not. Fighting it only makes the inevitable more difficult. Surrendering the ego, letting go of your own agenda, opening to a wider, wiser unfolding of events—all of this can bear fruit in the long wait of the summer heat. 

The hot humid weather will eventually pass. The time of waiting will be over. You will discover that during the time of waiting, through the long hot days and humid nights, the garden was still growing and the plants were developing toward the days of harvest. The wise gardener is patient, whether he is waiting on the weather or the development of his own soul.

The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun. Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it.
--Henri Nouwen

Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain.
--James 5:6 (RSV)

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
--Henry David Thoreau

The seed of mystery lies in muddy water.
How can I perceive this mystery?
Water becomes clear through stillness.
How can I become still?
By flowing with the stream.
--Lao Tzu

Every time something difficult and challenging has happened to me it has marked the beginning of a new era in my life.
--Kimberly Kirberger

A streak of toughness combined with optimism is a good passport through life. The winners are the ones who get on with it.
--Maeve Binchy

Any man can work when every stroke of his hands brings down the fruit rattling from the tree… but to labor in season and out of season, under every discouragement… that requires a heroism which is transcendent.
--Henry Ward Beecher

One day at a time—this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet become. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.
--Ida Scott Taylor

Whenever a mind is simple, it is able to receive divine wisdom; old things pass away; it lives now and absorbs past and future into the present hour.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you let yourself be absorbed completely, if you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.
--Anne Morrow Lindbergh

With all our philosophy, with all our grand and enhancing ideas, we cannot escape life as we live it. Star-gazers are still walking on the solid earth.
--D.T. Suzuki

In walking, just walk. In sitting, just sit. Above all, don’t wobble.
--Yun Men

O God, grant us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed; the courage to change what should be changed; and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.
--Reinhold Niebuhr

One act of thanksgiving made when things go wrong is worth a thousand when they go well.
--St. John of the Cross

Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible. Not to run away.
--Dag Hammarskjold

There is a kind of release that comes directly to those who have undergone an ordeal and who know, having survived it, that they are equal to all of life’s occasions. 
--Lewis Mumford

Meaning, moods, the whole scale of our inner experience, finds in nature “the correspondences” through which we may know our boundless selves.
--Kathleen Raine

Introducing an inspiring friend: 

I have been following Chris Guillebeau at http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/ for guidance and inspiration on building my Internet business. He has just released a new Unconventional Guide on using social networking for your business. http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/the-unconventional-guide-to-the-social-web/ Also check out Christine Kane, songwriter, to see what she is doing with her Internet business. Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 4,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a free subscription to LiveCreative at http://christinekane.com/. And if you are lover of the food and the written word, check out this site: http://alimentumjournal.com/ I met the editor at a party. She moved to Nashville recently from New York. They currently feature a young Parisian blog writer who took her writing and love of food into a whole new career at http://chocolateandzucchini.com/
 

Comments

  1. September 11, 2009 5:10 PM CDT

    I'm writing about YOU & Abundance on my blog today! I have always loved your books and I'm glad to see that your website is up and running!

    www.thefootballwife.com

    - Sara -- The Football Wife

  2. July 1, 2010 1:54 PM CDT

    It is good to see that you are still surviving and thriving! This season has been an especially challenging one for me, with the death of my father in April and taking care of my mother and all the "loose ends" involved. I like to stop by here for encouragement and inspiration. Namaste, Candy!

    - Thomas W. Parker