Being transformed from within creates the possibility for outward change moving forward. Transformation can’t be legislated or dictated. It must be something God gives even as it’s something we receive. The act of receiving this gift felt like realizing who I truly was and what I was capable of for the first time. I knew at that moment that I didn’t want to spend my whole life destroying the lives of those around me and that I was quite capable of doing this if I didn’t find some way to re-orient myself. I knew I needed to be shaped. But I didn’t know this because I’m smart or because I achieved something. I knew this because God awakened me to this reality. He opened my eyes for a brief moment and, in that moment, I saw myself accurately.
It’s important that this happened without shame. This wasn’t some strange moment of psychopathology or a shame attack. It was an awareness of God’s presence in my midst and the knowledge that this presence was a gift I wasn’t worthy to receive. But God isn’t concerned with our perceptions of worthiness. He’s concerned with giving us the things that we need so that we can represent his family in the context of our lives. I certainly was not doing this prior to that moment.
What followed this gift of awareness was a sense of peace, calm, serenity. I knew God had revealed himself to me and that, despite what I’d done, I had a place in his family if I continued to submit myself to his will. Because of this, I felt the pressure to prove myself to my friends and my community lift. I felt accepted and adopted by God and, therefore, had nothing else to prove. Even if people were judging me, I no longer felt judged. Something much larger was happening than simply the petty bickering and finger pointing that we’re all so prone to in our communities.
My pain did not go away by any means. But I had gained some perspective. Perspective is a big deal.