The real cost of avoiding transformation
The last time I started school, I was overwhelmed. I remember sitting at the airport after nearly two weeks of immersion into a new educational process, a new country, and several new formative experiences. It was a lot to metabolize and I knew I would not be able to hold it all and take on more as I went back home. The metaphor that kept coming to mind in a place surrounded by water was that of a fish– being transformed into a being that could swim deep in the water and thrive rather than struggle and drown. I needed gills and fins, like Harry Potter in the Tri-wizard cup, to survive the depth.
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding,” Proverbs 4:7. In search of wisdom, I dove in, hoping I would be transformed and survive. At the time I knew it would cost ‘my presuppositions, all my entitlement, all my blind spots, all my expectations.’ I did not know it would cost my current level of trust to move into the next depth of faith– with both finances and relationships. By the end of the three year doctoral journey I had written a dissertation, had a second baby, moved twice, transitioned jobs, and lost a close family member.
As leaders, we don’t really want to go through change if we don’t have to. The idea of exploration entices us to go. Hope for what’s on the other side incites diving in. We hope transformation will be all about beauty, creativity, and answers without fully comprehending the risk, the endurance, and death being reformed requires.
We later discover that wisdom is the jewel formed in us along the way rather than the treasure at the end of the journey. The fins and gills come as we grow them and not after. All of the unlearning and challenges reform us. Over time our life becomes a model of transformation in a way that we do not keep hidden. Besides, what purpose would it serve to keep the treasure to ourselves?
The challenges I experienced during my doctoral journey matured my faith and my care for others, made me vulnerable and more whole, and gave me understanding I had only vague pictures of prior. It would have been much more comfortable to remain in the steady work before me and continue to achieve the tasks on my list. But we are made to transform. Holding on to comfort for fear of change is antithetical to being fully alive.
We can consider the cost of change before jumping in, but when we leap it’s always into an unknown future. If we determine it’s safer to sit tight, time will idle us into the unknown, likely towing a line of regret.
So what will you do with the possibilities of transformation before you?
Seeing transformation as a life-long refining of the treasure that is us for the world means continual uncomfortability, sometimes rest, loads of trading today’s trust level for the next layer of depth, and much joy.
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