What else needs to be said?
There’s no shortage of books, podcasts, seminars, systems, and supports helping people change. We feel the need to be different than who or what we are. Whether it’s a transformation of perspective, habit, routine, relational connection, or simply diet, we all need to change in some way.
But change isn’t just change. It’s about moving forward. It’s about being better in quality. It’s about becoming more of who we believe we can or should be. Deep transformation calls to us every time we see someone who simply has it better or does it better than we do. Sometimes this is our tendency to get caught in the comparison trap. Other times, it’s us being real with ourselves about where we want to be as a person.
Most religions or faith systems are about change. They are about becoming more divine or more human. They push people towards an ideal by using moral imperatives, proverbs of wisdom, and/or stories of those who’ve gone before. This is often a good thing, but in my perspective, incomplete.
This year in our discussion series’ at Downtown Faith I’ve been trying to communicate and discuss one driving theme…transformation. But not just the word. The process of transformation itself. The key to gaining and sustaining any kind of real life change requires that we recognize and embrace the process. Understanding what is happening to us begins with understanding what is even happening to begin with.
It’s all around you…look!
The path to sustained transformation is all around us. We just have to pay attention. I like to put everything into spiritual terms, especially transformation, because I believe at the core of every person is spirit. You may call it consciousness or soul or spark or something else. But it’s that part of us that’s us to the core. Our body is certainly connected. But I want to get to the real us, inside us.
The word one New Testament writer uses for transformation is, in the original language, metamorphoo, the same word where we get the idea of metamorphosis. This idea is deeper than surface change. It’s not conforming to something new. It’s a complete change in structure or form from one stage to another. The most common understanding of this kind of transformation is the caterpillar to butterfly process.
From caterpillar to pupa, from pupa to adult butterfly; there’s a deep process at play and it’s right in front of us. Teaching us. Showing us. Demonstrating transformation.
I like the metaphor of seasons for the process at work in our lives. It’s cyclical. It’s never done. It’s “on to the next” over and over again. Each season is like the one that came last year around this time, yet unique. This summer was hotter in Vegas than last, but it was hot longer last summer. Also, depending on where you are in the world the seasons are different. All over the world summer happens at some point but it’s different than elsewhere.
Seasons teach us that the process is happening and happening and it doesn’t stop. If it stops you’re dead. And I don’t mean physically. Spiritual deadness is all around us. People who have stagnated and died spiritually because they’ve ignored the ever approaching next season of change.
Stories are another great way to recognize what’s going on underneath it all. It’s no mystery that people love stories and have for millennia. But have you ever noticed that great stories, ones that resonate in your heart and mine at the deepest level have something in common? Transformation at some level happens every time. A team goes from bad to good to great. A young boy or girl goes from zero to hero. An average person sees the world in a new way, propelling them into a transformation that leads to salvation and redemption for themselves and others.
Stories have a process. A pattern.
Seeing the pattern and moving forward.
It’s not enough to recognize the process and patterns of change around us. We must embrace the pattern and move forward. Forward motion will take us through the pattern over and over again. This is where we find the juice. The good stuff. Plenty of people have changed, transformed from one thing to another. But then they stopped. They stagnated. They died. Something halted their forward motion. Life got in the way of living.
What if we were to recognize, embrace, and activate real forward motion in our inner lives. Forever becoming who we are meant to be. Always being who we are becoming. Sounds nice right. Well, it takes one thing and this one thing cannot be replaced, skipped, or traded out. Sacrifice.
“In legends and literature, sacrifice of something to achieve something else is almost the only pattern.”
Rohr, Richard. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
Transformation isn’t about not liking who we are now. It’s about understanding that who we are now isn’t completely who we are meant to be. Sacrificing who we are to be who we are becoming is necessary for life change.
I love the 4-fold path laid out by Alexander Shaia in his book Heart & Mind. He really captures the journey, the pattern, the cycle and seasons of transformation and relates them to the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. If you’re wanting to recognize what’s happening beneath every spiritual journey, get this book and walk through it slowly and mindfully.
One day I’ll write my own book about the pattern and process of spiritual change. Some call it discipleship. Others enlightenment. Either way, something is going on. And if we can recognize and embrace it, we can become our true selves. More loving. More peaceful. More patient. More human. More divine.