The Layer of Harmony Underneath

Learning to trust the process

Sep 03, 2022

Personal Development Inspiration Life Lessons Growth
Tree with yellow leaves reflected on water

Photo by Faye Cornish

I’m berating myself for forgetting my earplugs. This coffee shop is noisier than I had anticipated. People’s conversations reverberate against my skin and eardrums and it’s hard to concentrate. Of course I could have stayed at home to write, but there is something about the atmosphere of a coffee shop that tugs at my writer’s mind and inspires me to show up for the craft. A good mocha always helps draw me in. This one, unfortunately, is bland and dry. Maybe that’s why the words are following suit.

I’ve been contemplating process lately. How we are to “trust the process,” as they say. There is a level of surrender that’s inherent in trusting the process. That’s what makes it difficult. When I was in graduate school pursuing a Master’s in Counseling, this was a phrase that was ubiquitous. We were taught to have this mindset before a client ever walked through our door. But how does the trusting take place? How do we trust what we don’t yet see?

For me as a Christian, trusting the process equates to trusting God. But even that, in my most human moments, is not something I can fully manage well. It is a constant practice of releasing control, believing in the words of Jeremiah 29:11 — His plans to prosper me, to give me a hope and a future — and doing the next right thing. In yoga speak, it is “coming back to the breath.” Over and over again.

For instance, in this moment when I’m trying to trust the creative process to write this piece, I am bombarded with thoughts of preparations I need to make for my parents coming to visit from out-of-state in a few days, what the weather will be the next two weeks they’re staying with us, and the work I’ll need to make up for tomorrow because I took today off. I’m also frustrated over an argument I just had over the phone. And not to mention the coffee shop sounds around me, dishes banging, chairs squeaking, doors opening and closing, endless chatter, music playing overhead. The “process” seems obscure in this moment. Something I don’t have the energy for or any interest in.

Is this the universe’s twisted way of forcing me to practice what I’m writing about? That wouldn’t surprise me. She’s mischievous like that. And isn’t it the case that when we are least interested in or impelled to learn the lesson, the opportunity to learn it presents itself? The inevitable friction of the growth journey.

Maybe if we picture the process as a loving friend that’s always by our side, this makes it easier to trust.

A companion walking beside us, with our best interest at heart. Inviting us to come back to the breath, slow down, regroup, and start again. A tightening and a loosening. This is the work of trusting the illusive process. We have to give ourselves permission to remain in the unknown of it all for a while. In the murky waters of a future we can’t yet see. Trusting that it will all work out, somehow. This is a lifelong endeavor, for we are always in progress.

Maybe trusting the process is not so much about doing anything as much as it is about not doing something else — not resisting, not controlling, not overanalyzing, not casting a “doom and gloom” cloud over the situation. If we remove all these blockers, can we trust naturally? Will we find ourselves in a position to allow the natural order of things to flow unencumbered?

Maybe underneath all the surface commotion of our lives, if we stay still long enough, we will find a layer of such exquisite harmony that was there all along, working for our highest good. This is what we ultimately have to learn to trust in.

In life, in love, in art, in work… we are constantly bumping up against reasons not to trust. We can cocoon ourselves in this place and stay there, and often for good reason. But oh, how constricting and joyless that can eventually become. If we learn to slowly, gently, trust in that underlying layer again, we invite spaciousness back in. And this opens our world to grander dreams, should we desire them. We were built to dream, to long, to imagine. And trusting the process is part of that bridge that gets us from the longing to attaining the thing longed for. We just need to step on lightly, come back to our breath, and press forward, holding the hand of our dear friend.