Friday, May 20, 2011

Patience In The Process

“Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.”
-- Harvey MacKay

The passage of time means progress. Like an escalator is in continuous forward motion, we are all moving through time. But unlike the escalator, we cannot stop time and we cannot step off when we have "arrived". Time is constant, but life is hardly on a steady course. Our lives are often compared to the ocean tides that ebb and flow, the valleys and mountains, or a mega-rollercoaster full of dips, turns, highs and lows.

Part of the fun of hiking a trail is the process of getting from the trailhead at the beginning to the trailhead at the end. On a recent hiking adventure with our kids we were met with many challenges due to a rainstorm that had passed through the area the day before. The trail was muddy and there was often a steady stream of water flowing down the middle of what should have been the path. We had to maneuver around puddles, climb over fallen trees, and find a way over a small stream that had become a large one overnight. Each obstacle was met with both hesitation and determination. Should we turn back? How could we find our way across or around?
There were several missteps. There was a battle for the "leader" position (our kids fighting their Daddy for it). There were even moments of hopelessness and frustration. But we didn't turn back. Sometimes we had to walk away from the trail to avoid flooded sections, but we kept the trail in sight and returned to it as soon as we could. And when we had finished and returned to the car we all felt a sense of accomplishment and were glad we had stuck it out.

Why do I fight the process so much? The process takes time to complete. There may be many steps and smaller processes that need to be worked through, obstacles in the way, and questions that need to be asked and answered. We must accept that we are in a process and be patient in it. A lot of times I want to rush the process. If I could only see what the end result will be, then I would know whether it was worth all the trouble. What if I never get to the end? What if I get off the trail and can't find my way back again?

Like the hiking trail, we had to literally take one step at a time, deal with each obstacle as it came. Perhaps if we knew what was ahead we would have turned back, but there was always a chance of something better around the next bend. It is that hope that can keep you persevering through the difficult things. It is that hope that may escort you through each adventure life throws at you.

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