“I remember back in the day, being asked to write out my “personal testimony.” The three parts of a good testimony were: (1) How messed up I was before meeting Christ and getting saved; (2) My getting-saved/ come-to-Jesus experience; (3) How my life miraculously changed with Jesus now in my life.
This idea of transformation can be detrimental. Rather than fully engaging a process of personal growth and doing the personal work involved, we become passive, waiting for the next big God-experience or encounter to miraculously change, transform, fix, or heal us. Transformation is not something that happens ‘to’ you or someone (including God) does ‘to’ you. If you’re waiting for transformation to happen in your life, you’re going to be waiting a loooong time.
Your active, ongoing, and evolving relationship with yourself, God, others and life is all part of personal transformation. Even “miraculous moments” of transformation are preceded by all kinds of factors that made such a moment possible.
People sometimes feel shame (what’s wrong with me) because they have not had one of those God-miraculously-changed/healed-me experiences. People pray day after day that God will change, transform, fix or heal them, and feel betrayed that it doesn’t happen.
The scriptures say we already have everything we need for life and wholeness. But it’s a journey to discover, access and re-condition ourselves according to the truth of we are and what we have. I wish God would just zap me and be done with it. Not gonna happen! The reality is that personal growth and true transformation isn’t for the faint of heart, which is why everyone isn’t doing it.
The personal work of transformation is messy. It will take you to places you’ve spent your whole life running from, ask you to let go of those things you have held onto for comfort and security, confront you in areas that feel too much to bear, require you to do the very thing you know you cannot do, and drive you to the very end of yourself where you must face your fears, and be vulnerable.
Transformation is not a linear process – a line of growth and maturation steadily going up. It’s one step forward, two steps back. It doesn’t happen all at once… it happens in bits and pieces and stages over time. For every one breakthrough, there are five breakdowns.
Audrey Lorde once described herself by saying, “I am my best work – a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines.” That sounds about right. Transformation is not something that happens at a point in time. Transformation is happening all the time, and sometimes we don’t even recognize it. I’m not even sure it’s advisable to make transformation a goal as if it is something to achieve. Life is inherently a transformative process – it’s like a dance. You just have to keep dancing.”
– Jim Palmer, Notes from (Over) the Edge