Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Word of the Year 2017- Transformation

Transformation:  (noun)
A thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
A metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal.
The genetic alteration of a cell by introduction of extraneous DNA.

In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word used for transformation is metamorphosis. The biological definition for metamorphosis, is “a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism; as from the caterpillar to the pupa, and then to the adult butterfly.”  An outward change comes from within the life of the organism, the butterfly doesn’t put on a butterfly costume or just act like a butterfly, the caterpillar becomes a butterfly and it becomes a butterfly, over time, and without extraordinary effort.  

I think what I’ve been doing for years is donning the butterfly costume over top of my little caterpillar body with the desire to get there quicker. Like when you're a child and play dress to be something you aren't yet.  I could take my many “to do” and “to change lists” accumulated through the years and use them to  gift wrap all my self-help books and present them to the library of the Behavioral Science Institute. I would probably qualify as a Platinum Donor.  Not that changing bad behaviors, learning new coping skills, or becoming more self-aware isn’t important and a pathway to a better life.  But, I’m not so sure that its sustainable if it’s just knowledge put into some sort of practice without opening up to the need for simple grace and redemption, that spiritual mystery to a truly transformed life.

And, honestly my Amazon collection of "how-to" and "what to" has not helped me get rid of my anger, or fear less, or lose weight in the past year!  2016 has been like walking into a bad dream and not being able to find a door to let yourself out.  

I’ve also tried on the religious hats of a variety of faiths in my quest for this transformation and awareness I hoped would lead to my purpose.  I’ve read enough tomes and attended enough services, picking out the principles and practices that resonated with my heart and tried to leave the rest.  However, most of the time following a path to transformation through the rules and regulations of organized religion disappointed me greatly as did many of its leaders.  We are all flawed human beings, but how could so many religious types be so incredibly blind to Jesus' most basic request  - Love one another?  I didn’t think He meant, love only Christians, or Clinton, or Trump supporters, or people who can afford to pay their own insurance premiums without tax credits, or white people.  Or, those who were blessed to be born in a country that isn’t war torn. Because it isn’t happening to you, or part of your reality,  simply turning a blind-eye isn't a solution.  If being a member of a group that didn’t at least try to walk the most simple teachings of their faith: service, love, compassion, and kindness, I certainly didn’t think it would lead me to the peace of heart and mind I was seeking. The inspirational Elie Wiesel, who suffered unimaginable atrocities as a young boy in a Nazi concentration Camp, said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”  Specifically, over the last few years, the indifference I've seen reflected has been disheartening.  And, I haven't been able to  wrap my mind around any  faith that separates people into baskets: good, bad, worthy and unworthy.  Religion seemed to me to be too much like Government.  I'm not convinced the Creator of Heaven AND Earth cares more about the United States of America and its people, than Syrian's and their beautiful, historic land. It is astounding to me that so many can’t grasp we are NOT just one nation under God, but one planet under God.  I mean, seriously... we are talking about the Entity that created the heavens too. That meanness, arrogance and separatism  defied everything I thought I knew about Jesus' love.  While I used to find such peace sitting in silence in houses of worship, sensing God's presence, I now just find myself getting angry at some of the doctrine that builds walls that keep people out. I find more peace being in nature or watching children play.  At this juncture of my life, I know I will not be transforming sitting in a pew or chair amongst the faithful with the kind of confusion and judgment I, myself, am holding against organized religion, support groups and their followers. So, I’ve turned from the regular attendance and participation in a community of "believe my way or you don't fit in," until I can come to a more personally compassionate place, or, find my tribe.  I've come to realize rather than looking in books and beautiful buildings with steeples, or being a member of groups that only welcome you if you have a particular common ground, there is a better way of transforming my attitudes, character flaws, unhealthy habits and body.  

I have to be the change I want to see. I must reflect the love my Creator is that is already a part of me. But how do I get there?

I have a relationship with the God of my understanding, but its been relatively regimented and rote with little real commitment and the superficial intimacy of a Facebook friendship. Yes, I reach out for verbal comfort, validation, and support.  That's not really my idea of intimacy.  I do that on social media too.   I do pray. I meditate. Sometimes that feels like it’s all lip service and dressed to impress. Pavlov's dog performing the same old tricks.  I HAVE changed with all my personal efforts seeking to be this better version, but I’ve come to believe I don’t have to work that hard at it, and certainly not alone.  Quality Time is my love language.  It's time for some one on one with my Creator.  I need reminded that I am His butterfly and with Him, ALL things are possible.  

I am not looking for behavior modification anymore. I’m looking for something more powerful. Something magical.  I am looking for soul transformation.  

If my soul changes, everything changes. I want the kind of transformation that can only come from the One who made me, where people recognize the butterfly simply by the grace of its movement, the marvel of its colors, and the delight it brings to the world.  I want a change that is so infused throughout every cell that there is only one conclusion; God's love is flowing through me, his spirit lives in me and I am being guided by His divine patience and wisdom. I don't want to just hear how to BECOME more peaceful, forgiving or grateful. I want to REFLECT all those things because that is the nature of my Holy heritage, His spirit from within me shining forth. I want to let that power take over and infuse my life. 

The transformation I am seeking will begin with the recognition that I don’t have to put on the butterfly costume anymore.  My genes come from the extraneous DNA of that Who is Perfect, and all I need to do is build a deeper relationship, surrender, listen, and then, trust the process.  I have all the markings and have already been named a butterfly.   

All these thoughts: digging deep, self-exploration, trying out new practices this past few years, and a profound desire to be the best version of me; more understanding,  more loving, less judgmental, left me agonizing over my word of the year. Abundant?  Forgiving? Observant? Connected?  Healthy? I wanted it all.  I didn't think I had enough years left to make all those changes. Maybe I don't have to. Maybe it’s as simple as my favorite Bible verse." Be Still and Know I am God." And, then, investing the time to really know Him. He is the change artist and the magician and can do for me what I won't find outside myself or in the world.  I don't need to be perfect and work at life, and change, and growth so fervently.  The metamorphosis is already taking place. Relax. Trust more. Fear less. Through Him all things are possible.  Maybe my word next year will be Supported. But, wait- by then I will know that I already am and always have been.

Note:  This will be my final post on this beloved blog of mine.  The benefits are relatively selfish.  I gained a lot of humility and self-awareness and it  taught me to be vulnerable,no matter what,  fearlessly sharing my stories.  Stay tuned in 2017 - I am in the beginning stages of a new blog that I am hoping will help me accept this aging process and  find the humor in being a Baby Boomer.  Boom Baby!