Friday, April 24, 2015

Have I really changed at all...?

Week 15:
This is an article I wrote for The Crucible Project Blog back in December 2014.  I still have to walk through this on a regular basis.

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

About eight years ago, I began a journey to make changes and transform my life. My Christian walk had become dry and lifeless. I began searching and praying for change. I began taking part in life-changing events including my initial weekend with The Crucible Project. My transformation curve seemed to make an upward turn.
However, there were times that I slipped back into my old ways and patterns of doing life. When that happened, I felt worse than before. And during those times, I began to question if I had made any change at all. Over the course of time I have seen some indicators of change. The answer to whether or not I have changed is… “Yes.”
I lead a group of men who have also attended a Crucible Weekend. After a year or so of leading this group, I began to notice a common feeling among some of us.
The conversation would go something like this: “I did my weekend and I am faithful to group, yet I sometimes feel that I have made no progress at all.”
For me — as the group leader — I could see quite a bit of change and difference in the man who was wondering. I quickly pointed out to him that I could see quite a bit of change. The group concurred and supported him. He could not see it, but others around him could.
That was the first indicator that I am not the man I once was. By watching someone else and his transformation process, I realized that I am changing too. It is hard for me to see it looking in the mirror.
I’m also a high school principal and we’ve been making some changes at our school. As we navigated those changes, one of the books I read was Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges. . Personally, the book has given me a new glimpse in the momentum I have established in the transformation process I started eight years ago. If you’re wondering the same things I have been, then Bridges’ insights might be useful for you. Bridges breaks transitions into three phases (see diagram below):
  • There is the Ending, Losing, and Letting go phase.
  • There is a Neutral Zone.
  • Finally, there is a New Beginning.

Here’s how his phases have applied to my personal transition:
  • When I started my transformation journey, I began the Ending, Losing, and Letting go phase. I took part in several activities and processes to “end” how I was previously doing life (One of those activities was my initial weekend with The Crucible Project).
  • “Ending” how I was doing life placed me in the neutral zone. In the neutral zone, I do not see the new beginning clearly. However, in the neutral zone, I can take risks and try new ways of living. This area is scary, ambiguous, and sometimes disorienting. There is a lot of unknown in the neutral zone. It is easy at times to want to go back to the old way of doing things. I am still letting go of some old ways and patterns. However, I am freed from the old life to walk new. I’ll fail at times. But the moving forward toward the new beginning has given me new life.
  • The new beginning will create other areas where transformation will need to occur. I know that God can change me in an instant. But I also know that is not how He works to build me into who I supposed to be. I have to let go of the old, wrestle with where I am, and look to the new. This will be ongoing. That is why life is called a journey…not a destination.
So, when I wonder if I’ve really changed after all this work, here are three things I do:
  • I see the change in others and realize that I have changed as well.
  • I look at the old me and reflect on where I was versus on where I am now.
  • I recognize that I am on a journey … and not just reaching a destination.
I may not see my transformation progress like I see it in others. But, when I begin the process of reflection and awareness, I begin to see and believe that change is happening.

Photo Credit: Robert Anthony Provost

1.      Describe a period of transformation in your life?
2.      What was it like to experience this life change?
3.      Have you struggled to see your own transformation? 
4.      How do these phases of transition apply to you?
5.      This week, reflect off of someone close to you and have them point out where you are as opposed to where you have been.  See what comes up for you and then ask God what step you should take next.

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