Washing my car is both one of the most therapeutic and rewarding things as well as one of the most tedious and cumbersome things that comes with car ownership.
I own a 2000 Nissan Xterra, and I love everything about it. It’s got enough room on the inside to fit all my stuff, top racks to strap gear to, and if I put a hitch on the back, it could tow up to 6,000 pounds. It’s the quintessential adventure vehicle (in addition to my fiancé’s Subaru Outback). So, I want to keep it extra clean and looking like new, or as close to new as an 18 year old vehicle can look.
A few nights ago, when we were washing our cars, I paid extra attention to the process involved in getting them clean.
First, you give it an initial rinse.
Second, you put soap on it and scrub it down.
Third, you rinse off the soap.
Last, you towel dry the car.
Voila. You’re done. It sounds pretty easy, right?
Not so fast there. While the steps look simple on paper, they are far from easy.
If you don’t give it an initial rinse, the soap won’t pick up all the dirt well. If you let the soap sit too long, it gets all scummy and gross. If you don’t dry off your car, it gets all streaky and looks almost as bad as it did beforehand.
There’s a detailed, specific, and perfectly timed process behind washing your car, and there’s a detailed, specific, and perfectly timed process at work behind the scenes in your everyday life.
We are all in the middle of a process. Whether you realize it or not, you’re in the middle of some kind of situation. You might be just starting a new season of life in a new city, celebrating 5 years at the same job, or getting out of some kind of toxic situation. In different areas of your life, you very well could be experiencing beginnings, middles, and ends. This is what I’d like to call a step. Each process has many different steps, and your life is one big process. It’s a process of getting you from start to finish. And, where you are now is smack dab in the middle of the two points.
Without getting too preachy and pastoral on you, let me put forth a few thoughts.
Each step has a lifespan of potential.
Just like when we put together furniture or refer to a recipe, each step is only applicable for a certain amount of time. In other words, each step has a specific lifespan of potential. You cannot get the maximum amount of output if you try to speed up or slow down a certain step in the process; you’ll pervert the purpose of the step if you try to do so.
So it is in our lives. The step you’re on in life has a lifespan. It’s only potent and relevant for the lifespan of the step. If you try to get out of the situation where you find yourself too early, or try to relive the glory days too long, you’ll miss your window of potential both in that step and the steps to come.
Each step has a purpose.
The minute details within the instructions manual seem pointless sometimes. They seem more cumbersome and boring than essential to the final product. In time, if you dwell too much on the tedious nature of it, you get so frustrated that you start to question whether or not it’s worth it anymore. But, then you finish the last step in the manual and you see that without the small things, the larger picture couldn’t come into view.
This frustrating, annoying, and downright enervating step that you seem to think has no point really does, somehow, some way, have a purpose. The purpose may be solely to get your mind off of what’s coming next and prepare your heart and mind for something better, but no matter what there’s a purpose behind every step of the way.
In closing, I leave you with this idea:
Without the process, there is no product.
If you have a goal in mind for your life, or you believe like I do that a Higher Power has something in store for you, then you must remember that you cannot get where you’re going without passing through where you are right now.
If you want results, you have to do the work. Sometimes the work drags you down. Sometimes the work makes you rethink why you’re on this path in the first place. But, you cannot get to where you want to go without going through where you are right now.
Be aware: in the process, you have to discern whether or not you’re trying to rush the step, or prolong the inevitable. Sometimes in order for the next step to come, you must put an end to the step where you are.
But, at the end of the day, there is no product without a process.
And each little step matters just as much as the big ones.