I received a letter from one of our neighbors here in Still Forming land last week in response to last week's letter that asked if I'd be willing to talk more about the transformation process. Specifically, she wondered if I might speak to the question, "How do we come to believe we are the persons to do this work?"
The question has had me thinking all week. How do we know we are the persons to do this work?
One thing I'm noticing as I reflect on my own cycles through the transformation process over the years is the staying power of the invitation.
It's something that won't let us go.
When I hit upon my first truth-telling moment, it was like a moment of illumination — as though a light had come on, shining upon a truth I'd carried with me a long time but never let myself really notice, much less voice. I don't know what grace means. Why do I really need Jesus? I'm pretty good at salvation on my own.
It was an audacious moment, being willing to admit I didn't understand grace or my need for Jesus. As someone who grew up in the Christian faith — and quite arduously committed to it, no less — how could I say those things? Grace and Jesus are pretty central to the point of the Christian faith.
But there it was: I don't get it.
It was the most true prayer I'd ever prayed.
And it wouldn't let me go. I couldn't stop noticing all the ways this truth was true for me. And I couldn't stop wondering, with shaky breath and wobbly knees: Now what?
This same staying power of the invitation has been true for other moments when the cycle of transformation has re-presented itself to me over the years. Most recently is the invitation that emerged last spring, in the middle of a session with my spiritual director. We were talking about my enduring concern for the philosophy of nonviolence when she asked a question that led to a new undoing in my life: "Where have you experienced violence?"
I'd considered this question before, and I answered her at first with all the usual suspects — things I'd named and worked through over the years. But then came the moment of revelation, a moment of naming out loud an experience I'd had at age 16 that I'd never named for what it was. There it was: the scariest word I could ever imagine (and could barely utter) that made me a well-known statistic.
It unglued me to utter this newly realized truth. It stood in every range of my field of vision. I walked in a bit of a fog for days. My whole world seemed to upend slowly, as though I'd lost the ground beneath my feet and was turning slow-motion somersaults as I fell back toward earth.
I enrolled myself in therapy that very same day and have been walking the truth-telling and exploring and sharing path of this part of my transformation ever since.
I think what I would say about those moments of initiation, then — when a truth has presented itself but we don't know if we're ready — is to notice its staying power. Does it seem to have a hold on you? Do you notice it everywhere you go? Does it stray far or long from your mind? Are you wondering what's next?
If so, it's probably time. Say it out loud. Let yourself wonder: Now what?
Do you need to voice a truth out loud? Is it time to enter into the transformation process with it? If it would help you to practice saying it out loud, you are welcome to reply and share your truth with me. I honor your courage.