Saturday, March 10, 2012

Process And Purpose

Nan and I both agree that some weeks in counseling there seems to be a theme that emerges as the appointments march by.  

For me this week what stuck out is our tendency to focus on outcomes, rather than staying in the present moment. Most of my anxiety comes from doing just that. I become so concerned with end results (which I may have little control over) that I can miss out on the satisfactions of my incremental accomplishments as they occur.

What I am really talking about is focusing on the process and the purpose instead.

From a spiritual standpoint, am I willing to leave the outcome to God, or am I afraid He is ultimately not trustworthy?

When I focus on the process I do the things that keep me moving forward. For me that usually means breaking down projects into manageable pieces so that I can feel success at the end of the day. When I look at everything that needs to be done (focusing on the outcome) I can easily become overwhelmed. When I take things one at a time I am more able to relax.

When I look at purpose, I can often connect with the transcendent aspects of my actions. For example: doing domestic chores and housework (which is usually less than joyful) can lead to a more peaceful and organized environment for my family; or writing a worship song because I want to express my praise for God, rather than worrying whether people will like it or not.

What I am doing is creating the possibility of joy in the journey, rather than joy only in the destination (which is often uncertain).   

Today is tax day for me. It can be anxiety producing because I often end up on the wrong side of the balance sheet. But as I just take each piece of paper and deal with it, I get closer to the finish line. I know the process and I understand the purpose. Even though I would rather be doing something else, I take satisfaction in staying on task.

How about you? How are you at identifying the purpose and focusing on the process rather than the outcome? Are there things in your life that need to be broken down into smaller increments so that you can proceed and get unstuck? Do you need help with it?

Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

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