Change seems to a part of life, and anyone who is experiencing change can attest it is not always easy. I was surprised to learn the trauma to us psychologically from a planned change is as challenging as an unplanned one! Change, planned or otherwise, may involve a deliberate choice or often we have little or no choice in the matter at all. Changes in employment, finances, marital status, changes in health or even a change in diet, all cause varying degrees of stress.
Changes will come - it’s a part of life. Just getting older, our children growing up - these changes are difficult because they are uncontrollable and apply pressure upon us forcing a change. Change in circumstance does not always bring about an inner transformation - a deep change from within us - “we just grudgingly adjust”*. Sometimes change can leave us bitter, angry and struggling with a sense of futility.
However, transformation is a deep work within us - it is often small, progressive increments but results in significant shifts in the foundation of our life. For example, as we choose and learn to love -understanding to really love is to place the needs of others before our own and this in varying measure often requires sacrifice. The sacrifice, at its core, is often our desire to be first, to be primary in all situations - seeking to have our ego stroked and often affirmed at the expense of others. However, it is in this aspect of transformation we discover a deepening sense of meaning.
The reality is we all resist change, especially any significant change that leads us to be more vulnerable, restricts our freedom, to trust another, and to love genuinely with freedom - these are seeming contradictions to the belief that being in control and wielding power bring true happiness. Transformation is a deep level change, a change from the inside-out and this take patience and deliberateness. It is counter-intuitive, but many, especially in the second part of life begin to realize that which they thought would and fought for to bring happiness and satisfaction has afforded them some comforts but not a deep sense of significance and satisfaction.
Renewing the mind is a little like refinishing furniture. It is a two-stage process. It involves taking off the old and replacing it with the new. The old is the lies you have learned to tell or were taught by those around you; it is the attitudes and ideas that have become a part of your thinking but do not reflect reality. The new is the truth. To renew your mind is to involve yourself in the process of allowing God to bring to the surface the lies you have mistakenly accepted and replace them with truth. To the degree that you do this, your behaviour will be transformed. - Charles Stanley
This awareness is the beginning of a wonderful metamorphosis where we learn to live more deeply, and we begin to recognize those things that transcend "the stuff"- we begin to experience a whole new appreciation for that which is true, lovely and beautiful - for relationships both the ones closest to us and those with our community. This is part of learning to live beautifully - investing our energy into things that really matter.
Change is not easy and may not be pleasant as it often "happens to us" and is beyond our control. We “prefer the status quo even if it is killing us.”* Transformation brings about the change deep within us that equips us to respond in more healthy and free ways to change, and this in itself brings about incremental but lasting changes to the way we live our lives; the way we work, the way we spend our time and the quality of our relationships - especially with ourselves and those closest to us. Transformation impacts our choices, but moreover, affect the way in which we embrace change - especially those things we have little or no control.
An effective way of inner transformation is found in Christian spirituality. A non-violent, love-based way of living which seeks to experience God, ourselves and in turn the world we live. Part of this is learning to accept that we are loved and to learn to walk in the reality of love in all areas of our life. It is amazing how this seemingly simple idea will revolutionize your life. It is seldom easy to do - but then again anything of any real substance ever is.
* Richard Rohr