Note: This post contains affiliate links.
Full disclosure: I’m a producer by nature. I love to make things with words. I find a thrill in pushing towards the final product. And then when I get there, my eyes are already on the next thing. Sometimes (a lot of times) it’s hard for me to slow down and enjoy the process of making something. But I’m starting to see how much I’m leaving behind by not enjoying the process more.
Writing in Steps
I just had a conversation with two people from a publishing house who were kind enough to give me feedback on a book manuscript. They talked about targeted readers, expectations, hook, and appeal. They really cared about this project, and I took their feedback as an act of love that I fully intend to implement. However, the implication is that I would have to do quite a bit of re-writing, perhaps even draft a new manuscript.
Now, I prayed before I went into that meeting. I prayed that God would give me peace of mind and help me to trust him in having an open mind about what I was going to hear. I prayed that I would have clarity on what his will might be for this book. And as I spoke with these two people, I was surprised (I don’t know why) that the prayer was answered so clearly. As we talked about reworking and rewriting this manuscript that I’ve worked so hard on, I had no tinge of disappointment, no angst about work lost, no frustrations. I just saw the next step of God’s providence materializing in front of me. And I was happy that I had life and breath in me to raise my foot and step on it. My response in this situation was, for me, nothing short of an act of God, since I know how bent I am on producing.
This conversation marked a phase in a process. The book, God willing, will come to be someday. And many years after that, I’ll look back and wonder why I was in such a rush to be heard, why I pushed and bent my soul on producing when the process was glorious in itself, the process of creating, shaping, and polishing a message to serve other creatures made in God’s image. The final product, after all, is far less gratifying without the process, and we seem to spend far greater time and energy in life on processes than on products. So, why rush past them? I want to get better at walking through the world, not sprinting towards a finish. I want to enjoy the scenery. I want to “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps. 34:8) — taste and see, not just “remember and keep moving.”
The Deeper Problem
But there’s a deeper problem here: it’s my yearning for perfection without process. In my heart, I don’t want to be in process. I want to be perfect and complete. I want to write like an eighty-year-old English professor even though I’m only 33. I want to be right now where others are some 40 years later. My heart is set on attempts to push away the process and arrive at perfection, without the slow development God has ordained for us.
As I dig deeper into this, I can feel the embers of pride and self-glory. My frustration gives those embers oxygen. As I dwell on my ambitions and frustrations, the embers take on a brighter orange, and then flame shoots out from them, grabbing hold of anything else combustible — my attention span, my other responsibilities, my care for others, my love for simple communion with God. It’s embarrassing to write these words, but they’re true.
My friends, God has seen it fit to work through process. He’s ordained to develop us on a long and winding path, not to throw us to a destination. It’s mysterious to me. I can’t figure it out. But I can ask for God’s help in slowing down and enjoying the process, enjoying the path, taking in the scenery, tasting and seeing. I’ve tried to do this on my own and always failed. Like anything else worth having in this life, the enjoyment of the process is itself a gift from God. We just have to ask him for it.