Deep, soulful transformation that actually changes your life is not elusive or magical. It is work, don’t get me wrong. But it is also simple and right in front of you. With the soul, there are no formulas, but there are ways to drink from the well of transformation for yourself that will never run dry. This post is #1 of a 4-part series on Noticing Transformational Moments.
Beginning a journey toward deeper transformation is as simple as this: Awareness.
Have you ever felt like you missed your time to make a particular change in your life? I have, and when I find myself there I must make a shift, otherwise I would feel this way all.the.time. When I am intentionally aware of transformational moments daily life becomes the playground where I can slowly become who I want to become. I can more easily lay down regret and self-judgment while moving into transformation. Being in a season of young kids, healing chronic illness, pregnancy, financial setbacks, and marriage strain (because of this list!) …my regret could be the unending well I drink from. However, when I shift my awareness from regret to transformation – a shift I have to make daily – opportunities for transformation become my playground equipment. And it can be this way for all of us.
Let me share a brief personal story as to how this as recently played out in my life.
Last year the writing project I was on for about 3 years went on an indefinite hold, and with it, my income. Doing that part-time work I was able to provide a healthy portion of our necessary income. A short few months after that gig ended, we found out I was pregnant. This news coincided with the end of our emergency fund.
Pregnancy for me, like for many women, means months of sickness. For me it also means at least two months of unending vertigo. There was no possibility of work and I could barely leave the house. I fought this reality for some time, and had many emotional barriers to work through. One huge one was going into debt for basic needs. The ugly-credit-card-debt type of debt. I was becoming the person I judged for being in debt. I did not see this as a place of transformation. Awareness- schmareness.
Just to be clear, my husband I have been through some solid courses on money management over the years. We have been through previous financial struggles. We even paid off debt while living on $17,000 one year (before kids and chronic illness). We were in a healthy place last year and had done hard, personal work to get there, and it took years. Frankly, this current situation has devastated me, and I have no idea how long it will take to dig out of this unfortunate mess. There have been so many things out of my control.
It took months for me to come to a place of seeing any possibility of transformation in this situation. The paralyzing feeling of failure has been both embarrassing and viscerally disheartening. It took me going on a silent retreat in December to face the deeper reality of my soul in regard to this experience. Despite the fear of facing that darkened place within, what I found there was better than I imagined. I found within me a list, very long, about all that we have gained because of this difficulty. It wasn’t a trick of my mind to make me be somehow grateful for this situation, honestly, I am not happy about this financial place. But because of my process, I was able to find real, soulful transformation (not just ideas, but experiences my soul now cannot unlearn). Want a peek into a few things from my list? Here are 3 of my pieces of transformation straight from my journal:
I have a deeper understanding that connection between Jeff & I is more important than the actual state of our finances. Love is always primary. So if we fight & argue and have not love, yet have money…so what?
We are more than our amount of debt. We are not defined by it anymore than someone else is defined by their hardship. First, we are loved human beings.
What is easier for God? To help us dig out of ridiculous debt or to transform us into people who will follow Him regardless; people who consider love and faithfulness our highest calling?
Yes, I want to be out of this debt and out of this current situation more than I can explain. Yes, we are working on it; there are many blocks and also some possibilities along the way. But if I failed to notice this transformational moment I would still be stuck in my shame (which I still have to fight to keep at bay, honestly) and losing my life’s energy over things I simply cannot control in the moment. Instead, I am answering my invitation in this situation, and I am finding a rich well of transformation. Care to join me?
How can you notice your transformational moments?
In short, I would describe transformational moments feeling most often like limitations. Given how we despise limitation as individuals and as a society, it is easy to understand why so many of us many of us miss the myriad of transformational moments right in front of us.
The good news is that our transformational invitations in life are crafted just for us. Like how Google or Amazon catalogues our searches and then creepily offers us ads tailored to exactly what we are searching for, our lives offer us the same. I am not referring to a “universe” here knowing some secret code to our lives that we have to crack, but the interplay of our brokenness, the natural world, and a Hopeful God allowing experiences that can only be for us. How is this possible? Because it’s our individual ego (more on the ego coming this spring) that is reacting to our situations, to people in our lives, and even to ourselves. It’s our ego, sometimes referred to as our “false self” or “the flesh,” that our true self and the Spirit of God are supporting us to dismantle. Because of these realities, the transformational moments in our lives are inherently tailored to us. To start, we need to become aware of them.
Stage one of noticing our transformational moments is about becoming aware.
What does this esoteric-sounding “awareness” look like?
It starts with noticing. But noticing what? Your desires and envy. Notice your resistance to certain people, ideas, or ways of life. Notice things that inordinately anger you; notice physical, relational, or financial limitations. Don’t ignore your sadness in culture that says it’s okay to suppress your grief. Look square in the eye at those circumstances that lead you to become less of the person you want to be. Maybe you have an apathetic response to being appropriately needed, or to people, or to other issues. Notice your addictions, your spending habits or eating habits. Feelings of overwhelm and setbacks, or relational pain, physical challenges: Notice them. It can be difficult, but notice even you’re feelings of inadequacy and failure. These feelings and experiences are like signs along a highway; you have to be aware of them to know when to pull off. The irony about those who don’t want to allow their “feelings” to guide them is that, for those people, their unprocessed unaware-of feelings are often ruling their life. The amazing thing is they can actually be our guides into transformation rather than ruling our days and our destinies.
When you ignore these signs, and ignore your difficulties, you will likely end up a year or more down the road even more disconnected from your life than before. You decide that you didn’t like that failure, or chose to let your envy brew, so you shut yourself off from it rather than engaging it. This is detrimental to the life of your soul.
Where do we find the courage to become this aware?
For most of us, these things remain just outside of our purview; we know they are there to some extent, but we willingly ignore them. This almost always wreaks more havoc on our souls than if we simply noticed them and invited them into our scope of seeing. But noticing can be scary because noticing brings these less-than-desirable places within us out of the darkness and into the Light. We each have to push through our own unique-to-us defenses to get there; we have to call their bluff. We have to set aside shame, control, fear, and apathy to enter into noticing.
In my previous post I wrote about brokenness and love being inextricably linked. Recalling this reality can give you the courage to move into these darker places of your own soul. You can know Love is waiting for you on the other side. Becoming aware of what is already in your soul speaks nothing of your worthiness of Love.
You are just as loved. The All-Seeing God has known what was already there; it is you who have kept it hidden from yourself.
So let’s be brave together; let’s trust this wild Love together. Make time to take a couple minutes alone, maybe right now, tonight or this weekend and simply notice. Hold off on judging yourself. Write it out if it helps you. Share with a trusted friend. Bring it to your therapist or support group. Do whatever works for you. This is the essential first stage to noticing your individual places for transformation. Remember: magic is not a key ingredient to transformation, but awareness and a quieted mind are.
Stick with me on this journey as next post we will move from this first stage: Awareness, to the second stage: Acceptance. There I will write about two common misconceptions of acceptance. I will nuance out what it is, what it is not, and why acceptance is so important to the life of your soul.
I plan to make that post sooner than this one came out! Living into my limitations has meant accepting the weeks of sickness that has pulsed through our family recently.
Leave a comment and let me know how you are noticing transformation in your daily life, or would like to. And if you have any questions or desire clarity, please leave that in the comments below as well.
Thanks for joining me. I am truly honored. Please share this with someone you think would benefit from it. Until next time,
I have a series I am working on that helps with awareness of the Spirit in our lives through both active and meditative forms of prayer and engagement. I am really excited about it, hopefully showing up this spring as a download so you can keep it and use it anytime. It is like a muscle we work, and we can become better at it over time. Awareness can move from scary to something we anticipate…because we know the freedom and connection it can bring.