I stood sideways in front of the bathroom mirror, pushing my stomach out and then sucking it back in. Out, and then back in. Again and again. The stretch marks from my third baby still a bright pinkish red, not yet faded into the silvery lines that come with time. Let’s get to the good part.
This was it. The moment of truth. I put the jeans on and began to pull up as hard as I could — a hop, skip and jump, and I was in! Success. But now the hard part — the button. My greatest nemesis. I laid down on my bed, sucking and squeezing, and I managed to secure it. I stood up and waddled over to the mirror to admire my handiwork, and that’s when I noticed it. Houston, we have a problem. I was sucking in so hard with my butt clenched so tightly that it looked like I needed to head to the nearest bathroom, pronto.
Sigh. This simply will not do. I settled for the old hair tie trick and looped it through to keep the pants up, while making a mental note to just BUY JEANS THAT FIT FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE.
If I’m honest, I wished I could hit the fast-forward button through all the healthy eating and exercise that would get me back down to my pre-baby weight and just get to the good part already. You know, the part where your clothes fit and you feel amazing and people comment, “Wow, you look great! Have you lost weight?!” I didn’t want to take the time or effort needed to actually do it. That felt too hard for my current season. No. I just wanted to wave a magic wand and arrive.
The promised land. The abundant life.
The more I reflected on that desire, the more I noticed how it creeped into every part of my life: when we bought our fixer-upper and I was living in a house with no working sink or oven and wished I could fast-forward to the “after” photo already. Or when we were in debt and struggling financially, and I wished I could skip over the hard part and get to the exciting “WE’RE DEBT FREE!!” scream. Some days I want to fast-forward through the tantrums and meltdowns and exhaustion of the little years to get to an easier season. I want to fast-forward through all the hard, sowing seasons and just begin the reaping already. I want to get to the good part. The promised land. The abundant life.
God is a God of the process.
What I know now, and what I am deeply convicted by, is that God is a God of the process. It’s not just about where we’re headed but the condition of our hearts on our way there. If we skip over all the hard parts, we miss out on all the beautiful, holy, sacred moments in between. We miss out on the healing and refining and transformation that can happen in our wilderness seasons. The process isn’t always pretty, but it is worth it.
I often have to remind myself that though dreams and goals are good things, I cannot let them rob me of joy in the present. Often we “get to the other side” only to realize it didn’t bring the contentment or satisfaction we longed for. We cannot live in the imaginary world of if I get this, then I’ll be content. The truth is that unexpected, inexplicable, unwavering joy is available to us today in Jesus. We can experience his abundance today. Don’t let your hopes for tomorrow steal your joy today.
There is a grace to be found.
It’s hard to embrace the present in all of the chaos and uncertainty, but there is a grace to be found. There is a grace in the gratitude for all that we discover along the way. It’s us, on our knees before our loving Father, holding up our insecurities and shame and broken pieces and entrusting that he’s with us every step of the way. It’s knowing that no matter our circumstances or our pant size, we are loved and accepted by our heavenly Father.
That is the good part. I hope we don’t miss it.
Monika Kirkland is a wife, mother of four, author and blogger. She is passionate about following Jesus and encouraging others to walk in the freedom and peace found in Christ. You can find her at www.monikakirkland.com and follow along on Instagram at @monikakirkland.
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