Brick by Brick
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The verse came to mind late on a weeknight while I read a book, nestled into my red couch. It caught me by surprise. Not for being new, but for being so familiar. And not because it has changed, but because I have.
As a child memorizing verses like Romans 12:2, I assumed transformation was always for sinners—like BIG sinners—lusting, stealing, alcoholic, enraged sinners. People who needed transformation.
At 8, and 14, even 20, I had no reason to believe in personal transformation. Growth? Yes. Maturing? Sure. I could even connect with the idea of “awakening.” But transformation?
I started declaring I was Team Jesus at age 5, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve carried a sense of responsibility for doing the right thing and a fear of disappointing others. I felt pleasure for doing things well and shame for doing things poorly. Nothing on my radar would ever push me so outside of the lines that transformation would be my only option. I was more of a “gentle course correction” kind of girl.
“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I set my book down, bright yellow cover pulsing with defiant hope for the subject at hand—faith breakdowns. I felt my chest grow warm with a similar tone of possibility.
My eyes drifted to the brick wall that held my home in place, the same wall that faces the lake and waits each day for the glow of Sedona red sunsets to spill through it’s massive paned windows and splash my floors with light.
A hundred years ago, that wall bore witness to the daily rhythms of craftsmen. Together these bricks contained a furniture factory’s crashes from hauling lumber and metallic screams from sawing beams. They knew the chiseled precision required to create furniture that lasted.
For decades, people could expect routine as they entered the factory. I’m sure during that time the space must have gained a cadence and reliability.
That is, until the day when the furniture factory closed, and what people had known no longer fit. Most of what the bricks had witnessed no longer belonged. Save Sedona red sunsets dipping into the lake.
The sun kept setting, even as wear and weather had their way with the bricks—molding them. They grew weak in some places and drafty. They stayed strong in others.
Then time, in do course, filled the space with new people who brought with them new realities, new kinds of interactions, new boundaries, new pockets of intimacy.
You might say my bricks never changed. I think that was one of the selling points for this place: all of the original structure. But it’s easy to trace the scars of the bricks in my wall—like reading an evolving mosaic. Structurally the same, yet essentially transformed in both content and purpose.
I no longer believe transformation is for sinners. Or more accurately, I believe transformation is for all of us, regardless of the fact that we are sinners.
Transformation is about a lot more than our restored relationship with God through redemption. It’s also about God’s active role as creator. I don’t think transformation ever ends. God constantly invites us to house new beauties within ourselves.
I’m the same woman I was a decade ago. I have the same gifts, the same family of origin, the same strengths and the same sinful tendencies, even if I have grown more sophisticated in how I engage with each.
Yet my mind holds so many things differently. I am a mosaic of old and new, a paradox of brokenness and love. God's shown up to shape me in so many areas I was confident were all set. That’s what transformation is all about.
It’s a good reminder for my soul to live somewhere where even the bricks get it.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”