I shared yesterday that I’m going to spend the next few posts in this series recalling specific aspects of the formation process that I learned or found helpful the first time I walked through my own process of intentional formation — aspects I am personally needing to remember right now, as I step through yet another curve in my formation “spiral.”
Please know this part of the series isn’t meant to be prescriptive, in the sense of spelling out a “1-2-3” checklist for you to follow or a “Do this, and you’ll get results!” claim. Rather, it’s meant to make the formation process a bit more concrete — to show at least one way it can look, and has looked, for someone else.
I see these posts a little bit like waymakers, like markers on the path or dots upon a map. How we get from one point to the next will look different for everyone, and the kind of terrain we cross to get from one point to another on our personal map also is unique from one story to the next. But the markers at least lay out some territory. They hold, or contain, a scope of journey.
With that said, then, let me share this second observation:
After awareness comes truth.
This part can take a while.
This is the part of the formation process that helps us learn what we’re really dealing with here. It’s where we begin to uncover what’s real, and we stare at it. It’s where we examine events and their impact. It’s where we notice what’s true inside ourselves, for real.
It can be scary as all get out.
Because often, we’re looking at things we haven’t allowed ourselves to see before. Sometimes it’s things we experienced, and sometimes it’s things we have done.
Also, this part often includes questioning things we’ve accepted without question until now. Sometimes it’s the case that things went unquestioned for survival’s sake, and they worked and were necessary for a certain length of time. But now they’re ready to be questioned. Now it’s time to reconsider.
And again, it can take a while.
The first time I walked through an intentional formation process, the truth component took years. I don’t say that to scare you away from this process, but rather to acknowledge the importance of this step. This is where we really learn what’s true about ourselves and our stories, at least to the level we’re currently able to understand and see them.
Our first time engaging with God in a process like this also tends to impact the length of time different phases take, since the first time around, everything’s new. Everything’s discovery.
And sometimes this part of the process takes a while simply because looking at what’s real scares us. I know that, for me, the things I’m working through right now are particularly difficult to look at and acknowledge. I’ve spent just over a month now going back and forth with what I’m holding — moving toward truth and then swerving away, simply because the truths I’m dealing with are difficult and painful to see.
I expect I’ll be in this truth phase for a while yet.
And that’s OK. We take the time we need. God is infinitely patient with us in our process.
In this truth phase, you might find that therapy or counseling is a welcome and necessary companion to you in the process. There is no shame in seeking this kind of help — and it can actually be the most wise thing you do for yourself. We don’t always have the skills in our own toolset to work through certain things, and neither do our friends and family much of the time, either. It can be helpful to have a specific skilled, confidential, and objective place to process some of the truths we see.
So, truth. Such a hard but essential part of the process. But this is where we start to learn what God sees and what God intends to do.
What are your thoughts on this truth component of the formation process? Is there anything you’d add that hasn’t been mentioned? Any questions about this?