We often talk about processing our experiences. Or processing our pain.
Do we know what we mean by this?
To process something is to develop it, we might say. Like in the olden days of going to get your film developed. For you young’ns out there, you’d have to take the canister of film out of the camera and then to a “fotomat” to drop off for developing.
Now we don’t want to just take a bunch of pictures and never develop the film, for then we would not be able to see and admire the photographs of the images we set out to capture. They’ll just sit in the dark, in that little canister. (Like snapping thousands of digital pix today with your phone, never to be taken in or actually observed)
Along these lines, we don’t want to simply take on experience after experience, information on top of information, not really processing any of it. We can become spiritually bloated, unable to digest the ridiculous amount of stimuli we’ve ingested.
But when you’ve processed your day, or “developed” it, you can then truly see it, learn from it, admire it, or make realistic plans to change course where needed and act differently next time.
Our experiences, what we take in, are like snapping pictures—either digitally to be viewed later, or more descriptively, captured to negatives for later processing.
At the end of each day or experience, it’s very helpful to go over the events and process/develop them by simply soaking in them for a while. Think of those red rooms like you’ve seen in movies where you must soak the paper in that solution for the image to appear. You soak in your experiences, and they start to develop into a form which can actually be observed.
We can then properly give thanks for them, ask forgiveness where needed, allow joyful experiences to transform us more into unconditional love machines; or perhaps sit with pain in a way in which we are not merely hurt by it, but learn from it, transcend it, and become better because of it. And this because we have walked through it to the other side.
But without developing, we cannot see or process accurately. As has been said, if we do not transform our pain, we will surely transmit it.
Without the stillness of focused attention, it is very unlikely you will grow and mature as a human being. You won’t develop because you don’t process your experiences…you don’t develop the film of your life so that you can actually observe it and see what is really going on.
Like that descriptive visual of red room developing, it is quite efficacious to soak our experiences of the day in the solution of our open, listening mind for review and reflection. My wife tells me that for the first stage of that kind of film developing, the room must be completely dark. If that door opens during this critical time, development cannot happen. I see this as being free of outside voices in order to authentically process. Only you can process your life, and it can’t be effectively done with distractions, with the door wide open to so many opinions and “shoulds”. *
Perhaps the red light could represent the Holy Spirit, illuminating just what she would have us see. Being still, away from the noise of the world, reflecting on life with the Holy Spirit, is one of the healthiest ways we can spend our time, in my opinion. For this is how we process experience, grow as a person, and develop the film of our life in order to observe it accurately, and move forward, toward God.
*There is of course a need for wise council in our lives, but I do not see that as the same as processing as I’m using it here.