Ah, the sound of silence.
Our family just finished a much-needed transformation of our basement. Several months ago during a major downpour, water somehow seeped inside, ruining the carpet in Jeff’s office and causing minor water damage around the baseboards.
While it was inconvenient, it wasn’t devastating. But it was enough of a disruption that it gave us an opportunity to make a change we’ve been talking about for awhile. Instead of just fixing his office, we ripped up all the carpet and had LVT wood flooring installed.
Then last week, we had painters come in. Our basement walls were magnificent shades of (wait for it!) burnt orange, navy blue, and forest green, complimented by a lovely greenish-gold color on the cabinets.
I know, I know… it really was too breathtaking for words. As much as we
loved hated to see it go, it was definitely time!
A week (and several texts to my design-gifted friend) later, our basement looks like a totally different space! New flooring and a few coats of paint have totally transformed it into a beautiful haven. Jeff’s office looks clean and professional, clear of all the clutter and ready for him to work. All we need now are a few rugs and pillows, and the basement transformation will be complete!
Something about the New Year causes many of us to consider making changes. We all have things we’d like to transform— our bodies, our time, our closets. New beginnings seem like a good time to let go of the old and welcome the new. That’s why resolutions and challenges are so trendy during this time of year!
One way that people create focus for their changes in the New Year is to choose a “Word of the Year.”
I did not initially jump into this trend; however, last year a word kind of chose me (you can read about that here). Having a specific direction in which to focus my heart and mind throughout 2020 was so helpful to me that I began praying in early December for a new word to guide me through 2021.
There are so many good words out there:
(I could go on, and I’m sure there are plenty of words you could add to the list, too.)
So imagine my surprise when the word God gave me was…
How do you even use that as a “word”? It sounds like… I don’t know… work! Can’t I have a FUN word? Sheesh.
It first surfaced through a “Word of the Year” quiz, which I took primarily because I was curious about the questions it would ask. When my word came up as “transform,” I’ll be honest—I laughed and ignored it. But then, a few minutes later I was listening to a sermon by a good friend that just happened to be all about transformation. He preached on Romans 12:1-2 and the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us by renewing the way we think.
Y’all, when I hear something more than once, I pay attention.
When the word popped up several more times over the next few days, I knew the Lord was speaking.
So although my heart was initially resistant, I decided to EMBRACE (my 2020 word) this idea of transformation and began praying about how God might want to transform me in 2021.
The verses my friend preached on, Romans 12:1-2, have been some of my favorite verses since high school:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not be conformed to the patterns 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)
I am using these verses in conjunction with my “word” to help guide me in the areas God may want to transform this year.
Y’all know I love Jesus. I have been a Jesus girl for over three decades now. There is not a single day I don’t wake up asking Him to use me for His glory! And yet…
I get it wrong so much of the time. I am impatient and distracted and selfish. I have so many good intentions, but not enough follow through. I can tell you all the right things to do regarding your kids and your marriage and your family, but I rarely do them myself.
In just two weeks of focusing on these verses, I have been convicted by how much of my life “conforms to the patterns of this world.” The way I often prioritize my kids over my marriage. The way I spend my time and money. The way I wrestle with God’s authority in my life, somehow thinking my way will be better. (Newsflash: it’s not!)
It is so tempting to measure our faithfulness by comparing ourselves to others. But God never asks us to be better than anyone else. He asks us to give ourselves to Him, to willingly sacrifice anything that might hinder our obedience. He asks us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him. If we are willing to allow Him to change the way we think and align our priorities with His, He promises to transform us from the inside out.
That’s the kind of transformation I’m longing for in 2021.
TOOLS FOR TRANSFORMATION
There are many areas of my life that could stand to be transformed (we’ll talk about those in more detail in another blog post). As I have prayed about all that is involved in the process of transformation, I came up with four tools to use as a guide.
The first step in any transformation is to review where you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go. We live in a results-oriented world, and it is so tempting to just jump on in and start working. But don’t skip this step! There is no use rushing if we don’t know where we are going. So I am making time to evaluate what is working in my life and what isn’t, where I’m strong and where I’m struggling, and where I most need God to do something new in my heart.
Most things require a process of removal in order to be transformed. Home transformations usually require de-cluttering, tearing out walls, ripping up old stained carpet, etc. Healthy Eating Plans require removing foods that are harmful and addicting- sugar, fries, etc. Spiritual transformation requires removing habits and thought patterns that hinder us from following Jesus wholeheartedly. So I am asking God to reveal anything I need to remove in order for Him to transform me into His likeness.
Some things are transformed by simply rearranging/reordering what they already have. For some reason, this tool makes me think of “transformers,” those toys that start out as cars or airplanes, but then transform into really cool robots just by moving their parts around. The same thing happens in our lives. When we shift the right things into a different place or priority, it can lead to a completely different result. Sometimes I get so caught up in getting rid of old stuff or trying new stuff that I miss the opportunity to make better use of what I already have. Maybe my health or my prayer life or my marriage are lacking simply because I don’t have them prioritized correctly. A little rearranging can go a long way!
Some things require rebuilding/renewing: adding something new in order to transform into something better. Fitness plans often involve adding in exercise, weight-lifting, or an element of consistency that wasn’t there previously. Home improvement projects often require adding in fresh colors and new furniture or décor. And in our spiritual lives, it is not enough to get rid of the old, ugly stuff; we must create new habits, new disciplines, and new ways of thinking. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)
In addition, almost all transformation requires outside intervention: a trainer, a counselor, a health coach, an accountability partner… and in this case, the Holy Spirit. I love that verse 12 uses the phrase “be transformed.” That reminds me that, ultimately, God is the One who is doing the work. I don’t have to transform anything!
I simply need to offer myself to Him, continually, and then be obedient.
The rest is up to Jesus.
Friend, do you have a word for the year or a verse that is directing your focus in 2021? If so, I’d love for you to share it in the comments!
And if not, why don’t you join me in allowing God to TRANSFORM you this year. I’ll be blogging my progress in different areas as I go, so feel free to follow along!