I am sitting here laughing while tears roll down my face, realizing how naive I can be about life, and yet excited about how much I yet have to learn.
At the start of this year, as usual, I did visioning, planning, and scheduling. I was feeling very confident about the direction of my business and even hopeful about my marriage, and I knew for a fact that I was done having children.
Yup! I am 31 weeks pregnant, legally married to a man I have not seen or heard from in months, reinventing my business model to fit my new lifestyle and sustain my family, asking God to help me explain “why daddy didn’t call you on your birthday,” when I don’t have the slightest clue, fighting to stay positive through a difficult pregnancy, and working on my own emotional healing.
I did not see this coming, and I don’t really know where this is going, so I choose to trust the process.
Our outcomes are impacted by our responses to the different events that occur in life, and though I certainly did not choose much of what I’m going through, I am focusing on learning, growing, and improving.
What does it mean to trust the process?
In my work as a mentor, I’ve learned that there are many misconceptions about trust, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship. I’ll tell you a story that illustrates what trusting the process is all about.
A man walked into a bank, approached the teller, and asked, “Will you cash this check?”
After looking at the check, the teller said: “Well sure, I can cash the check.
Just put your name on the back of it, hand it to me, and I will give you the money.”
The man stumbled back and said, “Whoa, wait a minute! I don’t want want to do that. You’ll be holding my check with my name on it, and you might decide not to give me the money.”
“Well Sir, no,” the teller said,“you will need to sign your name on the check before I can give you the money. It’s a banking policy.”
“I get that,” the man replied, “But you must understand it makes me very nervous to think that after doing what you ask, you might decide not to give me the money.”
“Sir, I assure you, I will give you the money, as long as you comply with banking policy,” the teller said.
The man continued to argue with the frustrated teller, until finally she replied, “I’m sorry. I am not going to be able to help you. You need to please leave.”
In anger, the man left, deciding he would get help somewhere else.
Soon after he walked to another bank, he would not sign his name, and was again refused service by another aggravated teller.
He tried a third bank, refusing again to sign his name on the check before receiving his money. He argued with yet another teller, who, at the end of his rope, whacked the man on the head with a rubber baseball bat, and commanded, ‘Just sign the check!’
Stunned, the man looked at the teller, picked up the pen, then signed the back of the check, and handed it over to him. With a smile – and a bit of a smirk, the teller handed the man his money.
Money in hand, the man returned to the first bank, walked up to the first teller and said, “Look! I got my money down the street.”
“Good for you, but I bet even down the street you had to put your name on the back of that check before you got the money,” the teller replied.
“Yeah, I did,” the man said, “But you see, no one ever quite explained it the way they did.”
If you’re anything like me, you will relate to this man. We want a guarantee. We don’t want to act unless we know for a fact that something will indeed work and unless we know exactly how it will work, or unless we know for sure that it’s the perfect moment to do it.
As a matter of fact, we want it to work for us BEFORE we put all our energy, time, and effort into it.
We look around for ways to bypass the process or find a different process, but the process never changes. The only thing that can change is our willingness to trust the process, and many times, we need to be figuratively be whacked in the head before we finally get it.
Pain is an effective teacher. No one will “explain it to you that way” and that’s why we go through some of the same trials over and over.
Through my pain, I have learned a great deal and have gotten so much awareness during the past few months, and have surrendered to going through some processes that I was not open to before.
When doing anything unfamiliar, it is expected that you will feel doubt, resistance, and discomfort. It’s normal to wonder “What if it doesn’t work?,” especially with our time being so precious and our already feeling stretched too thin in all we feel we need to do and accomplish.
Trusting the process means showing up, doing what I can do, and staying committed through the challenges, even when it looks like it’s not working, even when it doesn’t feel like it’s worth it, even when it doesn’t look like I’m getting where I want to get.
I notice it, acknowledge it, and decide to ACT in faith anyway. That’s trust.
Although I really really really want to know everything, I tell myself it’s okay not to know exactly what and how it is going to happen, or all the pieces to the puzzle, or to even enjoy the process.
The process doesn’t change but my attitude and my discipline change me, and then the process starts to feel different because I feel differently about it.
What is the process, anyway?
“The process” is a series of steps someone must take in order to achieve a desired result.
Some steps can be hard.
Some steps can take a long time.
Some steps can be boring.
Some steps can seem pointless.
Some steps are painful.
With that being said, we may want to skip some steps, and if we’re listening to the inner bully, we may want to ditch the process altogether.
In everyone’s life, there’s this moment when we’re going through something that requires we give it our all, but all we want to do is quit. There’s no shame in that.
When something is tied to your purpose, you know you can’t quit. This pregnancy has been hard but I just know I won’t give up. The level of discomfort, pain, and difficulty seem unbearable at times, but I choose to stay strong, resilient, and focused on what the process could bring: my fourth child.
Do I know for sure what will happen? Nope! Never! But I want to look back knowing I did what I had to do, I didn’t do what I shouldn’t have done, and I had unshakable faith along the journey.
Trusting the process means choosing to enjoy the process. I don’t mean I enjoy the sleepless nights, think my nose bleeds are bliss, pretend that my body aches are pleasant, celebrate my all-day nausea, or rejoice in all the complications that have come with my high risk pregnancy.
What I mean is that each time I start to feel irritated, agitated, angry, impatient, resentful, ungrateful, worried or nervous, I choose remind myself that there’s a purpose in this process, even when I haven’t arrived, even when I don’t know whether I’ll make it, and even when the purpose is not even obvious to me.
British Philosopher Alan Wilson Watts once said: “To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead, you relax, and float.”
As someone who had a traumatic experience at a pool and grew up thinking that swimming equaled death, trusting the water sounded terrifying to me, but now that I have allowed myself to learn the process of swimming, this quote starts to make sense.
Our desire to know everything, to control everything, and to predict everything is precisely what causes us to drown. It also prevents us from noticing – or let along enjoying – the little wins, joys, and pleasures along the processes that life decides we must go through.
In a weird way, trusting the process means falling in love with every step. Yeah, the hard steps, the long steps, the boring steps, the seemingly pointless steps, and the painful steps. Trusting the process is staying committed to those steps without throwing a tantrum, playing the blame game, or starting a pity party. You know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?
Having a baby rarely comes from a blissful pregnancy or a blissful adoption process, just like having a successful business rarely comes from a blissful business-building process. And none of it happens in the blink of an eye. As our favorite Fairy Godmother once said “even miracles take a little time.”
In the days of modern technology, we may feel like the check story and analogy doesn’t apply anymore, but there is a process to cashing a check, even when it’s electronic. Even when other processes become available, they are processes that must be followed nonetheless.
And yeah, not everything is grind, pain, rejection, uncertainty, obstacles, hustle, sweat, setback, self-doubt, failure, long hours, blood, and tears – we are just wired to dwell on these a lot longer than we do our celebrations.
And it is those aspects of the process that can help us grow and appreciate our win so much more. It is those ugly steps of the process that we endured that will make us instruments to inspire others to go on their own journey, with its darkness and its light.
Trusting the process is surrendering to the process, taking every step in faith, without trying to bypass the steps we don’t like, and without trying to control the steps we take.
This is what trying to control the process sounds like:
Why haven’t I gotten the result I want yet?
If the process works, wouldn’t I have seen some results, by now?
Just how long do I have to trust the process for before I get what I want?
We must respect The Law of Gradual Progress and understand that learning, purpose, and outcome don’t come at will. As powerful as we are, we do not decide when the transformation, the a-ha moment, the epiphany will happen, just like as hot as the water may get, it will take 212 degrees for it to boil – every single time!
Trusting the process is knowing as we take each step of the process, we will be guided to the next. I am really grateful to have this awareness and to know that, whether I am on board or not, I am not the Master of the Universe and life will continue its course and will unfold in its own perfect way. It’s just easier when I go with that flow, when I fall in love with what is.
Psalm 119:105 in the Bible says “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” The foot lamp will work when you take the steps and light the way, but if you just stay in one place, whining “I’m stuck, it’s dark, I don’t which path to take,” the lamp will keep on burning, but you won’t go anywhere.
Your attitude, your attachment, and your anxiety may be blocking the insight, inspiration, solution, lesson, impact, or ideas from coming your way.
God has a big purpose for you, and He asks that you commit to your desires, that you sign your name, that you surrender the check, that you wait in faith. Are you willing to trust the process even when you don’t know if it will work?
How do you know when you’re trusting the process? Share your story in the comments below.