We have all been shaped and moulded by different people, circumstances and environmental influences, such as our cultural. These things may be positive or negative. They may have caused us joy or pain. Ultimately, experiences and influences are what guide our thinking, our understanding of who we are, our values and behaviours today. This is the human experience of living. God’s design for all humanity is that we would have our identity and value rooted in the truth of who he is and who he has created us to be—loved. In many ways this is what we are all searching for: meaning and purpose, rooted in unshakable and unconditional love.
Transformation can look like a process of renewal. Things that have trapped us in the lie that we are not loved, we are not worth much, or that we have no purpose, can actually be replaced with truth. Within Christianity, we call this process sanctification. Allowing God to change our minds, hearts and desire to the truth that we were made for a good reason and purpose, we were made in his image, and we were made by and for his love.
For many of us, it is easier to believe the lies, mainly because they have been our default pattern of thinking for a long time. When we surround ourselves with others, however, who are able to speak into our lives with godly encouragement and love, when we read and believe God’s promises in his written Word, and when we take time to be still and listen to God’s voice, incredible change is possible.
In one very important letter in the Bible, Romans, Paul is giving instruction to followers of Jesus in the city of Rome, about how to now live out their faith in Jesus, and urges them in Chapter 12 verse 2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” NIV. He is saying that we can have our minds—our thinking patterns—actually renewed to be more aligned with God’s. Through this we will experience transformation. We will no longer be controlled by the things of this world, such as the lure of success, wealth, people-pleasing, selfish ambition, but we will know the desires of God and want to partner with him to see these things happen in our lives and the lives of others. What a gift!
In the recovery classroom, the women we serve courageously step into the hard work of heart work. They no longer want to be trapped. They desire true freedom. The way out of darkness and into the light is the same for all of us. We must allow the pain to surface, be revealed and be processed. There is no side-stepping healing….BUT, the incredible reality is that what is revealed and brought into the light no longer has a hold over us. The women get to recognize this truth as they journey alongside wise and loving counsel and use helpful tools to process the hurts, such as the 12 Steps. Through these committed relationships and tools they find out who they truly are, and how they now want to live, in light of this new identity. Recovery is a long process, and we need others to help us along the way. One of our core values is in recognizing that it takes time to heal so we allow for that space, relationship and time for each woman. Parenting is a part of this journey too, for as they come to know their worth and value, develop new tools and community, they are able to parent in ways that they had never experienced. This is the power of personal transformation: it can positively affect generations to come!
As Christians we all are on this journey of healing and sanctification—becoming more like Jesus. God is in the business of renewing and transforming our lives for our good and his glory. He is the God of life and is always doing a new thing. He is not stagnant, in him there is no darkness, and he desires the same purity and freedom for his children. This kind of transformation is an internal process. It is where we become fully ourselves—our true selves, as God designed us—and get to love that person.
The beautiful reality is that as we transform from the inside out, our external behaviours also begin to change. As our hearts are set free, our thinking also changes, and ultimately our way of living, as behaviours and actions also undergo Spirit-wrought transformation. Maybe instead of running from close relationships, we stay and become curious about the other person. Maybe instead of speaking hurtful and negative things over ourselves and others, we start to use our words to build up and encourage. Maybe instead of getting angry at things we can’t control, we allow God’s peace to flood us and move past anger into joy. As the serenity prayers states: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Reinhold Niebuhr)
Maybe that is your prayer today? Know that transformation is possible, that renewal of the mind is a crucial element to this process, and that he is with you and for you on this journey. You are loved!