Looking at the title of my blog for today, some of you might be thinking it looks like a mathematical formula. Let me see if I can walk us through this mathematical expression. Metamorphosis is the transformation that occurs in some animals as they move from one state of being to another, like from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Over the course of our lives, we have been in the process of our own transformation, physically and spiritually.
There is a scripture in the New Testament Book of Romans which tells us quite simply do not conform to this world, but be transformed in it by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect. Paul’s words challenge us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
So what causes us to be transformed? What causes us to move from one place in our spiritual development to another? Transformation happens when we are able to move beyond our limited understanding of God, our limited understanding of our own potential, our limited understanding of our own limitless nature. As my parents told me, many times growing up, if you can’t dream it, then you can’t achieve it.
Remember God created us with both the desire to be transformed and the capacity to make that transformation happen. Sometimes we fall into a trap in our lives where we are waiting for someone else or something else to do the work for us. If only X would happen, then everything would be ok. If only X would change, then we would not have to. The change might bring about some temporary relief, but if we have not changed, then it is indeed temporary.
I stands for improvement. Improvement is good, but all too often it is only temporary. I can’t tell you how many times I have started a new and improved way of eating, but then I hit a bump in the road and I am back to my old ways of eating. If we were being honest with ourselves, we have all put the new and improved label on at some point in time in our lives. Sometimes we stay in that “improved” state for a while and sometimes we don’t. I once worked with someone who had a bad temper. She learned to count to 10 before speaking and we saw this marked improvement in her ability to control her temper. One day, she forgot to count to 10 and she lost it. I is good, but C is better.
C stands for change. We are all capable of change. Change happens when we undergo some conscious change in how we think that has an external reflection in how we behave. For example, I knew someone once who had been clean and sober for 25 years. They had changed the way they thought about themselves and did what they needed to do to stay sober. Then 25 years later something happened and they regressed into their previous pattern of drinking. They had been changed, but they had not been transformed. Change has its limits and is determined by human will. As long as our will tells us to do something differently, then we do. When something disrupts our will to continue that improved behavior, we fall back into our old routines.
T stands for transformation. Transformation includes change, but change does not include transformation. To be transformed is intentional and requires attention. One does not become transformed over night. Transformation includes the intentional effort to build a relationship with the authentic self. It means one peels back the layers of ego that have eased God out. It means that one realizes there is no escaping all of the things one has spent years trying to escape. It means you have to do that painful work to face your demons so they no longer have any control over you. A singer, Meg Christian, once wrote a song called Look Within. In the song, she says great wisdom through painful experience is an inside job.
Until we dive into the deep blue seas of our lives and tap into the authentic self that God created us with we can only change and in some respects continue to conform to the world. Transformation through the renewing of one’s mind is not easy. If it was, I guess everyone would do it, but it is worth it. Transformation requires us to develop spiritual practices that will keep us connected to the Infinite Presence. It means we have to stay clear about what our intentions are and where we are directing our attention. My grandmother used to say you could tell a lot about a person by where they spend their time and their money. In many respects, this is true. Are the people, places, and situations where you pay the most attention in line with the intention that God has for your life? When your intention is in line with where you spend your attention, you will find that there is a significant change in your life.
I was once told that one sign that one is making progress in one’s transformation is when you are no longer inflated by praise or deflated by criticism. When we are not dependent on other people to tell us affirming and positive things about ourselves to feel good about ourselves, then we are making progress. That is not to say that it does not feel good when other people sing our praises or pay us compliments, but that your joy, your sense of self should not be dependent on whether someone praises you or criticizes you. Who we see ourselves to be is not and should not be dependent on what other people think of us.
Another sign that we are evolving in our transformation is how long it takes to forgive others and ourselves. When we are holding on to anger, the desire for retaliation, or still singing that somebody done me wrong song, then we are stuck in our ego and not moving forward in our transformation. When we are making progress in our transformation, we move from this attitude of negativity and resentment and it gives way to compassion, love, and forgiveness. We begin to express our love for others in ways that we could not before.
We begin to realize true happiness does not come from the external; it comes from within. I cannot make you happy and you cannot make me happy. I am not responsible for your emotions and you are not responsible for mine.
Osho once wrote, “Remember the head as a slave is a beautiful slave, of much utility. But as a master, it is a dangerous master.” We must be mindful that we do not allow our selves to engage in or continue to engage in patterns or behaviors that block our transformation. We must be equally mindful to use the dialogue we have with ourselves to encourage our growth, to affirm who we are at any point in time. We must remember as Miley Cyrus sang in her song that it is all about the climb. It is not about how fast you get there. It’s about working with yourself to prepare yourself to be able to withstand the mountains and valleys in life and not allow the bumps to throw you, to steal your joy or hijack your happiness. It’s all about the climb and remembering that T is greater than I and C.