A Note on Joy in Process as we begin our Reboot:
A few years ago, I helped a friend lead a group of high school students to Taize, France. We spent a few days in Paris before we moved on to Taize.
But before I can tell you this story, I need a side note here to offer some pertinent information. I love maps. And I love navigating cities using maps. Old school, paper maps are the best.. Planning routes…yes, please.
So while we were in Paris I couldn’t help but try to impart my love of maps and discovering cities to these youth. I mean, kids from rural Texas definitely need to know their way around mass transit. So I encouraged them to take turns leading us around the city.
This encouragement took the form of lots of exclamation points. Don’t worry about making mistakes! You’re learning! It’s all about the process! Just have fun trying! And on. Cue some quality teenage side eye coupled with polite nods.
But they tried. Because they were nice kids who were humoring me/trying to get me to stop with the excitement over maps.
A few days in, one of the girls caught up with me. She was super bubbly and excited, y’all. And she had to tell me about how she had tried to navigate the metro. And sure, it hadn’t gone *exactly* to plan. But she was still full of joy. And pride. Because this child who had no confidence in her map reading abilities (so her family doesn’t keep atlases scattered around the house for reference, I suppose) had led a group on an adventure through Paris. She beamed as she told me, “I got us kind of lost. And I needed the others to help me some. But I tried! And it’s all about the process, right!?!” So hey, my exclamation points stuck.
It’s all about the process. Artists of all kinds know this the best. Artists engage in the process of creating in order to engage the process of creating. It isn’t about finishing. It’s about creating. It’s about the process.
But it’s easy to lose sight of that. We’re pushed by calls for productivity and success according to numbers. Most measures we have for evaluating work are based on a finished product. And so the process transforms from a joyful, learning, explorative, discovery journey….into a ball of stress inducing terror. Where mistake equals failure and failure equals shame. It’s easy to live in stress instead of joy as we engage whichever process we have chosen.
All of which is to say, let’s have fun in the process. We are at the beginning of this Journey Reboot. Let’s find joy as we go. We might fail according to the numbers. It’s a distinct possibility. Or we might succeed or fall somewhere in the indistinct middle. But numbers aren’t the ultimate measure. They don’t even really matter that much at all.
Here are some of the measures I’ll be weighing instead: Who were we as we went? Did we learn? Discover new things? Did we engage God’s work for justice? Did we form community and connection with one another and beyond? Did we practice love? Did we share joy?
We don’t know if this year will bring success according to the measures of the finished product. But we can determine to dedicate ourselves to the process and to do so with joy.
In Joy and Love,