The church that I have attended for the past three years is committed to many things, but the main deal is to “Lead people into a transforming relationship with Jesus.” This belief is written on walls, papers, handouts and there are probably tattoos at this point. The leaders of this congregation so boldly believe this – a transformational life with Jesus – is what being the Church means.
There is another saying they have, too: “Everyone is accepted, but everyone is expected to grow.” These two beliefs have challenged me in various ways. I have been in seasons where I felt like I wasn’t growing in my relationship with Jesus, and it was one of these two statements that called out through the staleness.
More recently, I have experienced a growth spurt of sorts in my life. This has led me to recall my own transformational process, and to understand why it is of so much importance when it comes to our spiritual and emotional lives, and ultimately, the Kingdom.
I think it’s easy to start with someone like Paul, the man once named Saul who persecuted Christian’s. It’s easy to talk about his miraculous transformational moment – from sight to scaled eyes to renewed vision – and how the Lord Himself struck Paul into place. My journey did not exactly look like this. There were only figurative scales pulled back from my eyes, and instead of Barnabas as a companion, I had Chelsea. But before Chelsea, I had nothingness. And isn’t it strange how the Lord (some of the time) starts with, but always works with nothingness?
I was 20-years-old when I finally decided to cross the fence. The balancing act was tiring and weakening by the hour, and I knew it was Him or me. I chose Him, because there was something in the promise of how my past would not rule my future. So, after I chose Him, I started to see the way my life looked … different. Although my late nights were now being spent indoors, away from all the familiar things I had known, I knew that I needed that to happen. It was most certainly a season of nothingness to me, but something so spiritually significant in the end.
This is where transformation began.
Psalm 34:8 says to “Taste and see that the Lord is good,” and it was in this season that my taste buds were being reset. I needed to learn to crave the life that searched for what would make me feel whole instead of that desperate always-halfway-there wholeness. Another drink, relationship or hook-up never fully got me there.
This silent transformational season was used to shape me in areas of discipline, self-worth, and to slowly turn my story around. I would not fully know this until about a year later, but all the construction signs and speed bumps added to my life were for my good. He knew exactly who I was in that stage of life, where my fault lines lay and how badly my soul, heart and mind needed Him. While I walked physically alone in the refinement season of my soul, Jesus heard my prayers for new friends to help me through, to be vulnerable with, and to be held accountable to. So, when I was ready, He gave me some of my most cherished friendships to this day.
With new tastes, courage and friendships, my life truly moved forward.
In sharing this, I want to encourage those who are in this refining, transforming season. Whether you feel like you are walking alone or you are being held up by God-given friends, it is worth it. Refinement comes with great intentionality and can sometimes cause pain as our spiritual and emotional lives are pruned. It is as if we are being emptied and filled all at the same time; not by our works, but by that nothingness that God so sweetly works in. Transformation is a lifelong process, and there can be unbearable parts before there are great parts. When we begin with it, we set the foundation for our lives to be surrendered to His work in us, in all. He honors every single part of the process.
God took my battered storybook and said it was worth it because of the Cross. And I guarantee that yours is worth it, too.