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How to Be Transformed from a Caterpillar to a Butterfly

Transformation is part of God’s plan for nature and us! As Gem Fadling and I discussed in our recent podcast, our Creator established seasons for the earth and the earth’s inhabitants. But sometimes, some of us get stuck rushing around with constant doing and forgetting that each week is to have a sabbath rest, and seasons of fruitfulness or productivity precede or follow fallow seasons. Even life itself has seasons of birth, rebirth, growth, blossoming, bearing fruit, waning energy or health, and so forth. My favorite nature symbol of transformation is the caterpillar becoming a butterfly because once transformed, it remains a butterfly!

I’m keenly aware of life’s stages right now. Last month, my family and I attended the Celebration of Life of my brother-in-law, who was called home to the Lord at 71 years old, after a long illness. The celebration was beautiful and really helped focus us on what’s important, what priorities in our own lives need a little more emphasis, and what kind of impact a person can make. And now I’m with my aging parents, for whom the most basic tasks of living are difficult. Just yesterday, I spent a lovely hour with my mom who’s just been transferred to Skilled Nursing, praying traditional prayers and prayers of gratitude, asking God to bless every family member and all the staff and friends at their retirement center, and then singing the reassuring old song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” It was lovely to hear my mom’s faint voice singing, to see her smile, and to feel her squeezing my hand. God was with us both, surrounding us with peace.

In Romans 2:2, St. Paul urges us to renew our minds with God’s truth and promises rather than conforming to the world. 

That verse is about the mind: taking in God’s truth—reality, not skewed perceptions of it or the nightly news version of it—and God’s promises, which are plentiful, uplifting, and scattered throughout Holy Scripture. So while we are commanded to Love God and Love One Another—which is about the heart, plus our thoughts and behaviors that follow from our beliefs—we are also to pay attention to our thinking and beliefs and to do what it takes to replace those thoughts and beliefs that don’t align with God’s Word or the truth of who we are in Christ. 

Here’s a simplified reminder, worthy of pondering and praying about. Perhaps in this season of Lent, we could focus each week on one of these practical steps to transform—that is, renew—our minds:

 

  1. Notice unhelpful thoughts.
  2. Do inner work to see whether those thoughts are true and what led you to hold onto them.
  3. Forgive persons and situations that led you to distorted thinking or false beliefs.
  4. Release the emotion from those situations.
  5. Replace the lies with truth, which you may find in Scripture.
  6. Pray in gratitude for the lessons and even for those who hurt you.

Each day, let’s remember that God is in control and uses everything for good. Releasing unhelpful emotions, worry, and fear makes room for solutions and blessings. How can you release them? First, ASK God to help. Be specific about what you need to let go of. Do something physical, because unhelpful emotions are often stored in the body. Some suggestions that have worked in many situations are: pounding a pillow while expressing your feelings out loud and/or crying or shouting (in private!); breathing slowly and deeply, holding the breath a little, then exhaling very slowly while shaking the emotions or worries off; or throwing them in a way with physical gestures. Once emotions are released, do the work (with the Holy Spirit is best) to identify the truth and instill that in your mind.

There are other ways, too, of course, and you may want to seek help through a Christian healing ministry, deliverance ministry, spiritual director, counselor, or transformation coach. If you’d like to know more about this, feel free to email me through my website, https://RadiantJoy.us/contact.

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