I'm not the same person I was before. Some feedback from friends recently has pushed me to reflect on my own transformation journey again, and I'm amazed at how I've changed. And the things I've learned along the way are allowing me to continue that journey now. I'd like to share how I experienced transformation and still do.
Perhaps my biggest transformation was coming out of my "four years of hell" and developing a happy, productive, joyful life. As a young professional, I sank into a pit of severe dysfunction, spending hours crying, often walking the streets at night for hours or curled up on the floor in my room. Only by the grace of God did I not lose my medical practice.
But that was over 20 years ago. The sting of that is so completely gone that I have to choose to remember what it was like. I'm not struggling to not fall apart. It's truly in my past.
Another significant transformation was my marriage. I had been an isolated and fearful young woman without any close relationships, without any skills or ability to enjoy intimacy. When God brought Al into my life in my 40s I had grown a lot, but I still went through a major transformation in my heart and life. Doing so allowed us to enjoy an extremely happy and intimate marriage even through Al's health challenges. I miss him so much!
In the two-plus years since Al's death, I'm going through another transformation. God's stirring in my heart and who He has created me to be is driving me to expand my view of who I am and to invest significant time and resources in growing this ministry.
As I reflect on these transformations I see some common elements, some things I've learned that I believe can help you in your own transformation journey as well.
1. Trust God with the Outcome
In the middle of each stage of my transformations, I had no idea what the outcome would look like. During my "four years of hell," I felt no guarantee that my torment would ever end. When I met Al, there was no guarantee I would be able to function well in my marriage or that it would be so happy. And now, I have no guarantee what this ministry will look like next year or five years from now. At each stage along the way, I've had to keep investing my own effort without knowing the outcome.
And that means learning to trust God. The more you go through "stuff" with Him, the more you spend time learning to hear His voice, the more you come to understand about how He works with you personally, the less you have to know about the outcome. You can focus on doing the next right thing, and over time, the next right thing + God's intervention = amazing transformation.
2. Choose Your Thinking
Each significant transformation in my journey has involved significant growth in my mindset and thought processes. Coming out of my "four years of hell," I learned that I could choose to be happy. I could choose what my mind did, what thoughts to think, and that would change my feelings. In my marriage, I had to learn to think of myself as "we" instead of "me." I was now a wife. And now in ministry, I am learning to look at the bigger picture, to see myself as a change agent, to treasure what God has given me to share without pride or being too self-conscious.
Your thoughts are not all-powerful, but they are almost always more powerful than you think. You will become transformed to the degree your thinking changes. And you have a lot of choice in that part of the equation.
3. Never Stop Learning
Voraciously hungry for learning—that's one of my most valuable characteristics. I studied self-help, recovery, family dysfunction and healing deeply as I was coming out of my dysfunctional time. I read extensively and listened to media about healthy relationships and marriage in the months and even years prior to my healthy marriage. And in the last few years I've been studying ministry, theology, spiritual growth, business, marketing, communication and so on. I can trace my transformations to what I was learning.
The good news about our interconnected world is that you can become educated about almost anything, often for free or very little cost. Books, podcasts, online courses, conferences, intentional relationships—the possibilities are endless. Keep learning!
4. Invest Everything You Have
Transformation doesn't come without investment. You don't control the outcome; God does that. But it requires something from you. In fact, it requires everything from you. The bigger the transformation you need, the more it will require. Becoming a doctor required years of every ounce of my body, mind and soul. Other kinds of major transformations require the same kind of investment.
That investment will look like time, money, mental/emotional labor, doing what you don't want or feel like doing, stretching yourself, learning to fail and get up again, and much more. As Myles Munroe used to say, "Don't die with your music still in you." Invest it all; it's worth it.
5. Stay on Your Knees
I can trace my transformations to new ways in which I was learning to pray. Coming out of my "four years of hell" became possible once I met Jesus personally and learned to hear God's voice. I learned spiritual warfare in that season also. My successful marriage happened as I learned to put my own feelings aside and receive God's direction for the next step. And as I've been growing in ministry, I've been learning how my prayer life affects what I have to give to others. It's not all about me; my prayer life affects those around me.
Watch how God is stretching you in your prayer life. As you grow in your prayer life, God will bring you through amazing transformations. Staying on your knees and regularly entering His presence is the only place where you truly become changed from the inside out.
I hope these points are encouraging to you. Consider where you might be able to cooperate at a deeper level with the transformation God is working in you.
Your Turn: Which of these elements is the biggest challenge for you in your journey of transformation? What can you do differently going forward? Leave a comment below.
Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board-certified OB-GYN physician and an ordained doctor of ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.
This article originally appeared at drcarolministries.com.
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