Transformation

 

I have been sparring with words like transformation, attainment, and ascension, ever since the Easter message of death and resurrection.  It was probably sparked by my favourite preacher Dr Mark Chironna’s often spoken phrase   ‘rising out of dead things’
The concept is shadowing me, and I constantly want to grope at it, but just can’t get a grip on it.   So I thought to let it mull and mature through the observations that come my way.

First, it was hearing the bigger picture of the Gospel pattern, which may well reflect our own spiritual progress of death burial and resurrection  (rising out of dead things)
Then the pattern increased in scope with the Ascension and Pentecost.   But still, there was no clear understanding on my part.   Still groping !

Butterfly 1      

Butterfly 2

Second, it was the completion of a two-part watercolour pencil painting of butterflies, that I did as a gift for my friend Jenny’s newly moved-in home.
Butterflies, now there is a story of true transformation.    First the egg, then the caterpillar  then morphs the beautiful butterfly – not without a struggle though !   Isn’t Nature a wonderful teacher ?
But the butterfly had to go through the process of transformation.

worm to butterfly
Perhaps these serious thoughts of seeking clarity are because I have been in a safe and secure cocoon state for some years now.   I have been a little frustrated with my ‘futility’ and my ‘redundancy’, yet the solitary has brought with it contentment and a little creativity – big pluses !   Now looming is the unknown and a suspect of oncoming change.

I turn my attention to attainment.   But I cannot get to attainment.    Besides attainment smacks of self effort, at which I am not an ace!   So I wrestle on with words and thoughts, and procrastination.
I do believe though that we must endeavour to – attain.   We must be looking to always learn, grow, expand and develop our personalities, character and lives.  Else we stagnate, become dull and boring, or even worse – stay as we are.
But I am smartly reminded, and comforted from Scripture :
You have hedged me behind and before, And laid your hand upon me.   Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.  It is high I cannot attain it.  – Psalm 139:5,6

Thirdly, I know that growing and developing is a process.  It does not happen in a day or even a year, – perhaps in a moment in time,  perhaps with just one word that brings another perspective, – but usually the processes have to sink in to bring about slow change.
Here before my eyes,  I see on the current TV news, a glimpse into our country’s political arena,  a very good example of slow change.
South Africa is in the grip of election fever, with 770,000 registered voters ready to make their mark on 8 May 2019.    The clamour of the political parties are vibrant, and their constituents all clad in colourful battle attire of T-shirts and caps.  The African National  Congress in yellow,  the Economic Freedom Fighters in red
Butterfly SAand a wave of blue from the  Democratic Alliance – all a
spectacular colour parade in stadiums for their last 
final push for political victory in democracy and
transformation – from ‘dead things’ – (if we can
only get passed the demons of greed and corruption !)

This colourful parade of politics brought to mind the writings of Dr Don Beck’s book The Crucible.   I think he was hugely instrumental in the ‘behind-the- scenes’ of the forming of a new South Africa, in 1994.    His research brought great understanding, for me,  of the developmental stages of people, organisations and even of nations, with his colour chart of psychological development, which is as follows  – and I over-simplify my interpretation thereof :
Beige  – survival minded
Purple – mystic, spiritual minded
Red  – expression  (militant anger and/or creativity)
Blue – conformity,  order  (disciplined and responsible)
Orange – competitive (sport, business, achievement)
Green –  community minded.
Yellow  –  networking, coalition minded.
Turquoise – Global minded.
Colour ?  –  suspected future development to come, is left blank.

And so with these colour dynamics one may identify, the state of mind of a person or organisation or group of people.   This is helpful to bring about or at least understand transformation, and bring solutions to problem people or groups of people.
It is not a chart of the hierarchy of successful development, merely an indication of where we are on the chart –  or in the rainbow, so to speak !
All these can be at the extreme ends or in-between on the colour spectrum.

Again, I ask, but what brings the actual transformation and development.   Well, the short answer is God’s grace, and His goodness, of course.   But I think its the seeing where we are at, and if we are willing to make a change that will in fact bring change.   Because change is inevitable.

So  presently, what is your favourite colour  ?
In my time, I have been a purple person, a blue and a green,  currently I think I am red – trying to express myself with to many words and drawings !!

Finally, Ascension, it is a high concept, that is still to high for me to attain.
I know in the Christian faith one is growing from the carnal to the spiritual.   The Spirit-filled life is higher than the physical life.
But how do you attain it, I ask ?   Again the short answer is only by God’s grace and His goodness.
But His ways are not our ways, and so the pattern of the Gospel may be helpful, as we see Jesus willingly going to the Cross, before He could come to the place of Ascension.

Like the metamorphosis of the butterfly, it does not come about without struggle, a struggle for survival, whether it be physical or spiritual.
In any one life there is always something higher to attain to.    Transformation is needed to grow into what we are meant to become.  We can reach for it, but it is God who will bring us through, by His Spirit, His resurrection power of new life, …. and in His time.

Butterflies.jpg

Mirror Mirror on the wall …looking at Nacissism.

 

many mirrors

The article on Self-esteem sparked me to take a long muse down a road named Narcissism.

So to really get into it I want to share with you a poem I wrote about my self !!!

 Shades of Self

Knowing me, knowing you is a song often sung,
But do I know me?
In solitude I am so fine. And am always right.
Can climb the highest mountain, reach the height.
Yet in conversations with you, my halo dims, the varnish shifts, my layers thin.
And if I look closely I see some shades of me I did not know.
So I’ve gathered them together, my collectables if you like, to share with you.
Straight from the shelf,
Not all good-looking, theses shades of Self
There is the Wannabee, the Lookatme, the Knowitall and the Toldyouso,
The ever-present Babbler, and don’t forget these too –
The Mender, Bender and the Defender, all to often the Pretender, the Spender – and the ever ready Opinionator too.
Now, herein lies some stories, characters in tact.
Weave the threads, bring in the gold.
Let it show perhaps too,
Your shades of Self,
In your story told.

I remembered a picture somewhere of a good-looking Greek fella who fell in love with his own image mirrored in a water brook.   He had met a beautiful girl, and they fell in love. But it didn’t work out because he just couldn’t get past loving the image of himself !!

narcissism

Sounds a lot like the dysfunctional marriages of today !   Self-love in personalities can play havoc with harmony and happiness.   And it’s not just a case of having a pretty face or a beautiful body.  It’s not silly vanity, or an inflated ego, it is far more serious than that and reaches deep into the personality.     Narcissism is no new thing !  Indeed its an age-old human condition wired into the human psyche.  If it is not transformed, or goes unchecked, it goes to the extreme and becomes a personality disorder that has a huge and devastating impact on the lives of other people.  It is a very serious condition, and almost always goes undetected by the carrier.

worm

orange butterf;u

We all have a Self, so likely there will be some degree of narcissism in all of us.   I once asked God if He wanted me to be a butterfly why did He not just make me a butterfly.  I liked being me, I really liked myself, why did  I  have to change ?  I thought I heard Him sigh a heavy sigh, but He did not answer, and just let life’s circumstances continue to flow over me.       Now some years later, I get a glint of why I had to transform from a worm to a butterfly, it was so that those living with me would have a fighting chance to survive my bossy, over-bearing ways, and self-opinionated personality.
(So sorry Family !)

images (4)

I  have an enquiring mind,  but I am not a psychologist.  So to get more light on the subject and delve a little deeper into narcissism, I investigated, and came across a site that gave several Psychological approaches, or theories, on the subject.  If you are interested you can Goggle     https://ruveydacelenk.com/2014/12/23/narsisistik-kisilik
Don’t forget to click on the Translate button.    It will give far more understanding on this very complex subject.   But best as I can understand it  (and that took some time !) I have come to some understanding of the Self.

In the development or construction of the psychological Self or Personality, Observations made, form Perceptions – right or wrong.  A response can go up to protect the Self, or a resistance to challenge the perception.   So even in our tiniest beings, – where and when most of the Personality is formed – observations lead to responses, that cause us to make a choice that helps us to deal with the emotion or feeling  we have observed or experience in life.
Thus the Personality, the Self, is formed through a defence or resistance response (flight or fight), and either route can lead to a distortion – the Lie !    So construction of the Personality (through our thought-life which builds the neuron patterns in our brain) determines what we believe about our Self.

This self-constructed Self, called self-esteem – taken to the extreme becomes Narcissism.  Now Narcissism constantly needs to be guarded to portray a desired, acceptable and presentable Self –  which in fact can be a False Self.   And come hell or high water it demands to be protected and respected, and will emotionally annihilate anything in its path that will want to obstruct it !!    And in fact, in my opinion, it should be respected – (I did not say tolerated !)  for it is who the person is or has become,…. and that is  holy ground – the very portal of hell or heaven !!
That is,  until Truth be told,  that will help to deconstruct the Lies, that cause us to limp, often exhaustively, through life because we have to  prop up the False Self, through fear or performance, to be made acceptable by others, who don’t really care or even matter !

So could you say we need a saving of the Self ?  My answer is yes !  Because we are all created with this amazing power called the Will, our choice, our desire – good or bad.
The Will, our choice,  is our ‘distinction’ from other created species, and is accommodated in the Mind – the headquarters of the Self.  It is at this point of decision where we can embrace a thought or expel a thought.  If,  we can discern, examine or judge a thought for what it is, we can build a positive construct, if we expel or disregard a wrong thought (negative) it evaporates into a gas and is diminished !  Now that is power – the power of our Will, our choice, our decision – that plots the course of our life.
So it would seem that the forming of the Personality, the Self, or the Soul can form self-distorted constructions (neural pathways) that can, and will manifest eventually in psychological development or disorders, and even deviant behaviour.

What I have gleaned from Psychology is that there is more, much more.   In dire cases, the Self or Personality can fragment or split (sometimes necessary for surviving the hurt, shame and pain of trauma), can dissociate itself and form other “selves” or personalities, display patterns of obsessive behaviour, self sabotage on inferiority or insecurity, or roar and rage in smouldering silent angry rebellion. Anxieties and depressions are almost the order of our modern societies.  Could these be signs of the  True Self  wanting out?

worm to butterfly

Well that is my understanding and opinion, and I suppose I am entitled to it, because after all I’m just a recovering narcissist !

hand mirror

But  wait there is more, this distorted Self is not the True Self.  So how do you get to dig out the True Self from all the cacophony of voices, distortions and misconstruction.   Perhaps then an exercise in the deconstruction of the distortion  – the Lie, is a place to begin, enter the psychologist, the healer or the Truth.
After wracking my poor brain on the theories of Psychology and narcissism, I asked myself what is the truth of the matter.  So I turned to the pages of the Bible, the book of wisdom, – by the way a must read, –  to look  a little deeper for the soul and for the spirit.  I came across some of these Scriptures that told me that indeed we do have a soul and a spirit. Of course, in Theology there is more, much more than just the psychology of man, in fact a whole magnificent story unfolds of the restoration of Mankind.

Psalm  139:14    I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

Proverbs 18:14   The spirit of man will sustain him in sickness , But who can bear a broken spirit ?

1 Thessalonians 5:23    Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and                                               may your whole spirit,  soul and body be preserved blameless…..

So, as humans we are made up of the body,the soul, and the spirit.  Three engines, if you like, that should function in harmony.   The body we know, the soul is taking a little longer to know, and the spirit  (the subconscious) which is almost unknown to most.  The spirit is very important, because it is here where The Lie operates.  It hides itself, like the coward it is, – so undetected, can continue to reinforce even entrench more lies, with invading thoughts, false belief systems, false identities, deviant behaviour, in fact all things devious and deceitful,  that cause immeasurable torments, sadness and sorrow in the soul, and play havoc with our happiness and our lives, and the lives of others, especially those near and dear to us.

The Truth of the matter is that we are made in the image and likeness of God.  God is love, and God has a will. His will is His desire.   We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made because, like God, we too have a will,  a choice, a desire, that operates through decision.
We carry, in us, the original blue print for Love and for the good, the lovely, the honourable, the pure, and all the value and virtues of goodness.  So when we have to make a decision, when we have to make a choice, it should  be for the good, for the love of the Self, because our original Self is designed in our Creator’s image.  That’s good self-esteem, and ‘narcissism’ at its best !!
That’s what our souls long for, the magnificent Self.

But of course we do not know this when we are tiny tots, rebellious teens or ambitious adults, growing our personalities. So we just develop along the lines of survival, need and greed to feed the Self.   That is unless we come to  know and accept the love of God, through Jesus Christ,  Who loves us with an unconditional love,  (warts and all) and wants to set us free from the Lie, to be who we really are – our True Self, in Him.  His task is the task of unique restoration, as we are all the same, yet each one so unique in their personality.     We  find this out when we search the Scriptures that mirror and reveal who we really are, and what lurks and is hidden beneath the surface in our souls.

But where do we begin ?  The key is Christ, to accept Him and invite Him into our hearts and our minds, to read His Word, the Bible, and by reading His Word a transformation begins to take place in our thought processes.

Romans 12:2….. , but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may                                          prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Now we are lining up our thoughts with His thoughts, His Will – His desires, which are good and favourable toward the Self, (for we are His workmanship, His creation) , and our decisions will become positive decisions that will be for our good, our development and for the prosperity of our soul, and our lives.

Jeremiah 29 : 11    For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

It is however necessary,  to implant the Word of God in our hearts.
James 1:21   …. , and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Bible picture.jpg

Is this all just religious talk.  The answer is no, because this is what the Word of God,  has the power to do,  – it is  a game changer  !

Hebrews 4:12       The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged-sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The Truth, and only the Truth will make us free to be who we blue butterflyreally are, and destined to become.

We are complex, us human beings, but with the help of God, and when we begin firing in all three engines of body soul and spirit – can be magnificent in our inward parts, no longer deceived or broken, or functioning out of deficit or the Lie,  but made whole, in the right image and with a healthy, life-giving self-esteem.

Narcissism is nothing more than Pride – the very thing that caused Lucifer to lose his place in heaven, and raise hell on earth !
Narcissism is identified in the Greek fables.   In the eighties it was labelled Self-esteem, and is found in the Trolls of today’s world we call Virtual Reality  – the Internet and Social Media.

We are in the age of consumerism and humanism.  The era of  ‘the selfie’ !  Progress and development are accelerating.  We can reach higher, farther and faster on any level.    We need to take care that in our humanism we do not lose our humanity.  We need to hold onto a belief system that puts people first.  Today’s advanced technology may well pave the way for our younger generation to go into a kind of emotional isolation or “flight mode” –  desperately seeking purpose and attention, trying to escape from the gaping holes in their souls.    Or is it just sheer ignorance of the Truth about the Self, – the Truth that actually  keep us real and mentally and emotionally grounded.

Masks

Perhaps its time for change, from face book to face-off to face-to-face, where real interaction with real people help us to see ourselves a little clearer with warts and all.    A getting to know the real me, the real you, – and that will take a whole lot of courage because emotional pain is almost unbearable, and will distort any image .
Bring out the mirror, take on Truth, get a little more honest, a little more humble, a little more real,  then, observe the personality bloom like a sweet-smelling magnificent rose, for all around to enjoy.

So lets boot out nauseating narcissism, give the selfish Self a big shove to make room for others  –  and bloom where we are planted in the garden of humanity,  – or even too in the cesspool of life.

6937419-awesome-rose-buds

1 Peter 3:4   rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty          of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

 three butterflies