Outcomes. “Lynne, I think you need to focus more on the process. Let each stepping stone be revealed as you are ready to take the next step.” That was a paraphrase of the wise advice given to me by a writer’s mentor and editor at a recent conference I attended. It sounded so good. So wise. So doable. After all, for one year “process” was my favorite word. Everything was about process. Life is a process. Navigating this challenge is a process. Losing weight is a process. In my conversation with you, there was bound to be a process or two woven in. And yet, I still find myself focusing on outcome in the midst of the process. Is it a bad thing to be product oriented as opposed to process focused?
In some areas of life, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to focus on outcome. Take, for example, doing the taxes. There is nothing enjoyable to me about the process of getting our records together for our accountant. Nothing. Enjoyable. At. All. In fact, I will postpone the inevitable for as long as possible. So focusing on the outcome, a possible negative outcome that may include garnished bank accounts and hefty penalties helps me get the job done.
My daughter recently got married. Preparing for a wedding is no easy task, especially when you are a detail-oriented person. It is a process that is long and sometimes joyful and often stressful; but I believe this is a time to embrace the process along with the outcome. The wedding planning process can be an opportunity to make more memories that add to the wedding story itself – to the outcome that is so fleeting in comparison to all the planning that comes before the big day.
I am trying to apply this advice of appreciating the process and not focusing on the outcome to my writing, but I am finding that I need to enjoy and focus on both process and product at the same time, like two chords in a musical strain. For me, I need to know that I am working towards something tangible, complete and hopefully meaningful to someone somewhere. I want to know that the chords of words I am stringing together will ultimately make a song. All the while, I want to be able to enjoy the tempo of keys being stroked, whether the cursor is moving forward or backward, and ideas taking shape and stalling out and taking shape again. I really want to enjoy the movements, the solos, and the accompaniments along the way; but I also want to relish in the finale, applaud the finished product and cheer for an ovation.
And so it is with my Christian life. One day I will stand before the Lord, my life a final product, and He will look at the outcome. On my own I would come before Him in filthy rags. Nothing I have done or will do on my own will make me good enough to stand before a Holy and Perfect Creator. But because of Jesus, I can stand before God in white robes of righteousness. Still, I want to make the most of this process called life in the tiniest of hopes that I will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I need to embrace the process of refinement that God so graciously and lovingly applies to my life so that my outcome, my life, will serve as a living sacrifice to the one who gave all for me…and for you. Perhaps the better choice is to be both process and outcome focused: two parts, two chords, one beautiful song.
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6