TRANSFORMED FROM THE INSIDE
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old
has passed away; see, everything has become new
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
It was a very warm June day in 1990 when I stood in line with many other Marylhurst College (now University) students waiting to file into St. Anne’s Chapel for the beginning of our graduation ceremonies. I was to receive an undergraduate degree in social sciences with an emphasis on psychology. Awed by the feelings of fulfillment that washed over me, I reflected on the transforming journey that had brought me to this place.
Many family members and friends came together to celebrate this point of transition in my life. Among the wonderful moments that day was the opening of a gift I received from my husband’s two aunts. The gift was a beautiful wooden, carved butterfly with a cross at the center making up the butterfly’s body. I could not have been given a more meaningful gift. The butterfly is a symbol for the soul and the cross a symbol for the death and resurrection of Jesus…two profoundly important images of transformation. Both the caterpillar and Jesus underwent inner change that involved a movement from the familiar and into a process of unknowing. For the caterpillar it was a biologically predetermined process. Jesus entered the transformational process by choice and in response to God’s leading.
In her article Transformation: our fear, our longing, Flora Slosson Wuellner addresses the difference between change and transformation. Change, says Slosson Wuellner, occurs when we adapt, adjust, react to or are swept along by the external events that occur around us. Change does not necessarily involve newness of being. Transformation, on the other hand, “implies new being, a new creative energy flowing from the center which acts with creative power upon surrounding events”.
Slosson Wuellner lists four major characteristics of God’s way of transformation:
First, God’s transformation of us does not deny our humanity or wipe out our identity.
She states that God’s transformation might be understood as an incarnational spirituality in which, “…The transformation God brings us is seen supremely in Jesus, always involved with the encounter, healing, and release of our full humanity”.
Second, God’s transformation of us unites us with our deepest longings.
As we walk this journey of faith God works to “make all things new” (Rev. 21:5) Our journey of inner discovery may feel strange, surprising and even painful at times. Yet, “God’s transformation at work within us brings us increasingly closer to the person we have always (perhaps subconsciously) longed to be.”
Third, God’s transformation within us always involves our deep healing.
“To be human is to be wounded”, writes Weavings editor John S. Mogabgab. Slossen Weuller speaks of the inner child within each of us…the wounded child that can only find healing by bringing their pain out of the darkness and into the light. She writes, “…We begin to share with others what we really feel. We begin to release these inner hurt and frightened children into God’s hand for healing.” This is the great mystery inherent in our Christian faith…that out of the pain of our brokeness, out of the dead ends of our lives, God, with our participation, can transform us from the inside and make all things new.
Fourth, our inner unfolding rises from a living relationship with God rather than from laws and commands.
Our healing and inner growth comes not from strict adherence to the external authority of scripture, although scripture serves as a vital guide in our Christian faith. Transformation from the inside comes form a living relationship with the One in whom we live, and move, and have our being. It is by “…sharing each need, each hurt, each longing with the Christ who walks with us” and by listening with heart and soul for his guidance that we discover the healing presence of this living relationship. Slossen Weuller writes,
This is what is offered by God through Christ: transformation, new creation rather than change, growing from our deep center, expanding our empowered freedom even in the mist of the power of outer events. When our inner selves waken, stretch, stand up,
move out, make choices, our terror of change becomes the hunger,
thirst, and ecstasy of growing.
May you be transformed from the inside,
Slosson Wuellner, F. Transformation: our fear, our longing. Weavings: a journal of the Christian spiritual life. Vol. VI, No. 2. 1991.