Process

I’m not a big fan of process. I like efficiency and productivity. Process seemed like a barrier to all that.

But as I’ve gotten older, I am realizing the importance of process more and more.

I was listening to the book of Job a couple of days few weeks ago. I wondered, why is this book so long? Why does Job go on and on about his trials with his friends. Why do his friends go on and on. And why does God go on and on and ask Job tons of questions at the end? Why not a short and sweet story like in the gospels.

Then I realized. It’s about the process.

The book of Job is about process.

And the importance of process.

The trinity that I consist of (mind, body, heart) has a hard time being a unified trinity. What my heart wants, my head says no. My body reacts and has demands (sleep, food). My head says do this or do that or what about this, and my heart doesn’t want to budge. It feels unsettled.

So how does one go about integrating the trinity of the self? Process.

What is process anyway? I’m not sure exactly what it is but I think it has something to do with time, reflection, and, of course, change.

For me, process involves finding and deciding on the right words. Creating the story to explain the facts. Brene Brown taught me that my brain is wired for story. We get an endorphin rush when we create a story to explain our experience. And our brains do not require a statistically significant quantity of data to create the story. Unfinished stories feel, unsettling. So I make up a story that seems to fit at that moment.

Inevitably, I rush the process. I don’t wait for all the information. I don’t make an effort even, to gather all the information. I am not content with the not knowing. The uncertainty. The unsettled feeling. So I fabricate. (Brene calls this a conspiracy.) Endorphin rush of a finished story. THE END.

*quick side story: The other day, I saw a zip lock bag full of toiletries on my side of the bathroom counter. I was angry at my spouse and thought, “Why can’t he put them away himself.” But then I remembered that he knows I like to take the unused toiletries from hotels. And then I thought, “How sweet of him to remember to bring them for me.” See how quickly I tell stories to myself? This all happened in a few seconds or less.

But the book of Job is so painfully long. Job asks “Why?” nineteen times. He doesn’t understand why all these terrible things are happening to him. He demands an answer, an explanation from his friends, and from God. He considers the options and keeps asking why. He doesn’t quit. He keeps at the process. For a long time.

And then something happens. He gets a reply from God. In the form of 55 questions directed back at him. I don’t really know what that means, but I believe that God honored the process that Job endured. God didn’t give a short and cute answer. God was patient to let Job get it all out and hash through it all with his friends. Even when they gave him bad advice.

Process is messy. And when you’re in it, you don’t know quite when it will end. You just have to trust the process.

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Pain

In the book, Daring Greatly, the author says that when she experiences emotional pain (shame, sadness, grief, betrayal, you get the idea) she says the word pain, pain, pain, over and over again until it passes. I have not yet tried it but I plan to when I experience pain in the future. I don’t know why the idea is so attractive to me, but I just have this feeling that it’s a good idea.

I also read in the book that anger is a secondary emotion. It is a socially acceptable emotion, so ppl tend to display it lavishly… however, grief, sadness, shame, etc.. are not socially acceptable emotions, so ppl do not display it as often as anger. This is fascinating to me and makes me see the world differently. Whenever I experience anger, I will ask myself, “What is the source of this anger.” Usually, I have a feeling, the underlying emotion will be fear.

So. Pain.

There is a LOT of pain in the world. Just only recently, there was the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Texas explosion, my friend’s 2 year old has cancer, my sister is in a domestic violence situation, my relationship with my sister is broken, world hunger, guns everywhere, my friend wants to find a man and can’t, world sex trade, child labor, etc… etc… and this. It breaks my heart. All of it.

I know someone who refuses to watch anything but “fun” movies. She says she doesn’t want her mood to be dampened by serious stuff. I mean, I kind of get that… but at the same time I don’t exactly agree with her strategy. I don’t think avoiding thinking about “sad” stuff, makes your life anymore genuinely happy. Avoiding pain, does not make the pain go away. It kind of makes “life” go away. It makes you live a dead life. That is what I think.

I’ve realized that the more I look at, feel, embrace the pain of others, the less painful my own pain feels. I become right sized. The more compassion (suffer with) I feel, the less self pity. The more I share the sufferings of others, the less debilitating my own shame, guilt, flaw is to me.

I don’t have any wise insights about what this means. I guess it could mean that when I’m in pain, look around. When I am self-focused, that pain will only get bigger and the pity party will get wilder. Look around and see that others may be fighting much scarier battles than I… and take courage and encouragement from that.