January: the fresh, clean pages of the 2018 diary and a highly
unnecessary amount of new stationary speak ‘new year’ to me. There’s a myriad of coloured pens – until I forget which one I was using for which category and mess up the system. There’s an optimistically large pile of notebooks awaiting fresh inscriptions that I hold onto until I have something worthy to say – they may yet remain empty.
As one may expect, this post originates around last December when I saw blog posts of people’s ‘word for the year’ which I thought sounded like a great idea. I love words! What better way, I optimistically decided, to help me know what is coming up this year than to have a word to guide me through. A beacon of hope in the year, went my fond imaginings – little remembering the ‘restoration’ and ‘reconciliation’ of former years which played out in ways I never expected. I prayed, pondered, considered, and felt the word God spoke to me for my 2017 was apparent.
The irony of my thoughts and the reality was all too apparent. This word was perhaps going to tell me what my year would look like, but only if vague, drawn-out and potentially arduous were ideas to go by. If you have ever looked ‘process’ up, you will notice other words crop up a great deal in the descriptions; ‘series’, ‘steps’, ‘towards’, ‘changes’. Rarely has the idea that something is going to take a long old time to change been one that appeals to me, productive as I know it is. “You’re better with short-term goals” was the way one of my best friends kindly, and correctly, summed up my attitude to persistence and long term strategic planning.
As I thought further on the word itself, I could see how I would need to be patient and to perhaps unlock and break down memories, experiences and emotions throughout the year ahead. Much as the evolution of the year itself, we often see only the starkness of winter before the flourishing of spring happens all of a sudden. It was the underground growth that I would perhaps be anticipating with the word.
Yet process can look both stark and hopeful. The rumination of ideas and ponderings, pleasant and painful, that give rise to hope and potential reflects the sudden shift from winter to spring; a time ripe with possibility where beneath the surface growth has been happening unseen. Because process is also the flourishing of buds to flowers, something of beauty as well as the unseen and undetected.
And ‘process’ has meant all these things. Agonising hope mixed with confusion, unlooked-for happiness, bitter disappointment, wrangling questions of faith, life events and facing up to things I hadn’t known, realised or accepted about myself. It has been the process of learning gradually to understand others more deeply. Writing a book, a process gradually drawing to a close, will hopefully only open up the new processes of editing and publishing.
As I reviewed the year of 2017, I realised the many things I counted as the good points were the things I could control; the decisions I’ve made, the fears I’ve faced and the goals I’ve accomplished. Conversely, the ‘bad points’ were more heavily weighted to the uncontrollable decisions taken by others and circumstantial events. The process of choosing and being deliberate, both for good and with sacrifice as lessons I hope to take with me into the new year.
It is in the process that we learn, build tenacity, resilience and endure. Some of it has been beautiful, beyond my wildest dreams. Some has been seemingly impossible at the time, needing everything I could muster to get through. I’ve learnt to be kind to myself and take a bit more time exactly as a process might need for the series, the steps, the change. I’m not the same person I started the year as, but the process has only just begun.