by Alyssa Robinson
In 2019 I went through a pretty rough divorce. It was not something I wanted, and it took me a while to accept that it was actually happening. It felt like almost everything was outside of my control. So I tried to take back control of my life in any way that I could, big or small.
I started exercising daily, eating healthy, taking vitamins, pampering myself with face masks, lotions, and fancy products. If there was a health food delivery service, I would try it. Any product that promoted inner peace and calm, I bought it. I was an advertiser’s dream because I was so desperately seeking positive change in my life.
But there was no product on earth that would heal the wounds my marriage left behind. I wanted to feel vibrant and confident. I wanted to feel connected to God and to others. I wanted to be made new.
I needed to transform.
So, what’s the difference between change and transformation? I’m by no means a transformation expert, and I can only speak from my own experiences. For me, transformation began when I was willing to let go of control. Even when I was making positive life changes, they were only surface level, and they were temporary. Transformation requires introspection, acceptance, harmony, and humility. This was a type of inner work I had never done before. Fortunately, I had a great therapist to guide me through it.
Here are just a few things I learned on my journey:
- Not every situation in life gets closure, and that’s okay.
- Keep the people who are willing to sit with you in darkness close.
- Holding the tension of the world rather than fighting it connects you to the Divine.
- Joy is a choice; make room for it.
There is not a single life change I could make that would teach me these lessons. They came from meditation, reflection, and the willingness to sit in liminal space. Fr. Richard Rohr describes liminal space as, "where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin.”
The lessons I learned were a result of sitting quietly in liminal space, not knowing what my future would look like. With support, I non-judgmentally acknowledged my own mistakes. I learned to embrace the unknown with the assurance that I was not alone. God never left me. I am loved. I am enough. I am connected.
For those who have experienced liminal space before, maybe I’m making perfect sense. Those who haven’t might feel slightly annoyed. How can we work toward transformation if there isn’t a checklist of changes to follow?
Transformation does require change, but it’s inward change rather than outward change. It is a change of attitude or, as Romans 12:2 puts it, “transformed by the renewing of the mind.”
This is the best guidance I can give as you enter your transformation journey in Christ:
- Be humble
It’s okay to admit you don’t have all of the answers or that you could be wrong.
- Be honest
Learn to be authentic and vulnerable with others and with yourself. Transformation has no need to pretend.
- Have grace
Carry forgiveness in your heart because you never know what someone else is going through. And don’t forget to have grace for yourself; you’re going to need it.
The rest will unfold in time. It might feel scary that there isn’t a definitive list of changes that lead to transformation. My hope is that the lack of guardrails and rules eventually inspires freedom rather than fear. I still have a lot of work to do, and I hope to continue transforming into a reflection of Christ for the rest of my life.
Check out this week’s episode of Life + God Podcast in which Laura Sennott and Alyssa Robinson talk about each of their experiences of liminal space. Laura, through her grief after her husband’s death, and Alyssa, through her sudden divorce. You can listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.