12 Sep 2018

I woke up to find that autumn had arrived, seemingly overnight. There was first-of-the-season snow on the large mountain that towers over my city. And my backyard (that I had worked so hard to mow and clean up the day before) was covered in thousands of leaves. The transformation happened in the blink of an eye.

Sometimes our lives are like that.

I think most personal transformation happens over time. We face hardships and challenges that offer us extended opportunities to develop our character and become better people.

But there are times when transformation happens quickly, like when leaves and snow decide it’s time to fall…now! It’s like the universe says, “OK, we are going to deal with this now!”

Though I know I have experienced many personal transformations (and continue to), I can point to a time when the universe showed me such special favor…to deal with stuff NOW!

I had grown up thinking I was stupid and unattractive. Despite an immensely positive experience as a kindergartner, I had a disastrous first-grade. While my kindergarten teacher was kind, nurturing and encouraging, my first-grade teacher told me I was stupid.

When you’re a kid you sometimes don’t stop to consider that an adult could be wrong, clueless or in over their head, so of course, I grew up believing the ever-so-destructive words of a teacher who took part of my soul.

Later as a middle-school early teen, kids sometimes made fun of the way I looked. They likened me to a pop-culture icon who was especially unattractive and said I had a big nose. My boyfriend asked me to show him what I looked like without makeup, and when I did, fell over laughing. These experiences contributed to a self-image that I increasingly saw as ugly (in addition to feeling stupid).

I then moved to Europe and experienced much transformation as I engaged with the spiritual and social sides of my being. Most of the transformation took place over time, but one time, it was overnight.

In a group, someone asked me why I always prefaced my insights and opinions while engaging in theological discussions with, “I don’t know, but…” I now refer to that as a “butt monkey,” as when you throw a “but” into a sentence to cover your butt or someone else’s.

The comment, speaking to one of my blind spots, really got me thinking. I thought about what she said and woke up the next morning to face a new person in the mirror. I looked at myself and said, “You’re not stupid, and you’re not ugly either!”

Suddenly my reality changed. In a moment, I experienced a healing of my self-image that was quick, dramatic and very, very real. While other aspects of my personality have continued to heal and grow since then, that particular experience in Europe was dramatic and life-changing. It’s as if the universe loving decided we were going to have a historic, on-the-spot transformation. We did something that day!

The reminder to myself and the message to you is this: Be open and aware; transformation can happen over time or come quickly, like overnight. So be attentive and ready growth at any time.

See the following related articles:

Avoiding Transformation by Father Richard Rohr 

Transforming Energy by Jeannette Slater

Personal Change (Man in the Mirror) by Dr. Deb


Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash




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