why i’ve changed: a few thoughts on growth and transformation

i can’t believe my son is six years old. it seems like just yesterday he was this tiny little human being who depended on us for everything. now, little by little he’s becoming more and more independent. just the other night we snuggled up to read a bedtime story, but this time, he read the book to me.

how is that possible?

and, on top of his cognitive growth, he’s also a lot taller than he was when he was born. just a couple weeks ago i was out of town at a conference, and when i came back it was like he’d grown another foot. it’s just unbelievable how quickly he’s, literally, growing up.

besides the sentimental desire to keep them little, parents generally expect this sort of occurrence, right?  part of health is growth–in both cognitive abilities and physical stature. the truth is, if he was the same at six as he was at one, then we would have serious concerns. but he’s not. that one year old is still part of him, but differently. to use a phrase from  rohr, the six year old has both transcended and included the one year old. 

and this is totally normal. we celebrate this reality of growth, change, and transformation every year with cake, candles, ice cream, bouncy houses, and presents. 

yet, when it comes to our convictions about theological matters, such change is often met, not with celebration and encouragement, but with concern and, sometimes, hostility. 

sometimes people ask me why i’ve moved, why i no longer hold the positions i once held on certain theological issues. they often say things like, “the old josh didn’t think that,” or “you are really different now.” and the truth is, they are 100% correct. the josh of 2005 would probably definitely disagree with the josh of 2016. when this is mentioned, however, it has the connotation that such a reality is problematic, wrong. if 2005 josh wouldn’t agree with 2016 josh, then the current version must be off the theological rails. 

people assume that i, along with others who are on a similar journey, have changed my views because of a desire to be “politically correct,” or “to make god nicer,” or to “tell people what they want to hear so as not to offend them.”

and these assumptions couldn’t be more wrong. the reason i’ve changed is simple: i am a living, breathing human being. i’m not static. i don’t have it all figured out. not even close, actually. what i do know is that i want to be open to truth, to the movement of the spirit, to being transformed. 

i’ve changed because i don’t believe we’ve ever had it all nailed down, truth hasn’t been mounted and stuffed on the wall. mystery hasn’t been, nor will it ever be, conquered. i don’t think a group of men in a meeting in the fourth century hammering out the creeds had it all figured out, and i don’t think we do today, either. 

i’ve changed because my greatest desire is to pursue the truth, where ever it leads, because all truth is god’s truth. my conviction is that if something is really true, then we shouldn’t fear it, even if it challenges and shatters our previous understandings. truth, after all, sets us free.

being politically correct holds no interest for me; being kind, however, does. 

i’m also not trying to make god nicer; i’ve discovered that god is like jesus–full of love, compassion, grace, generosity, patience, and joy.

and i’m not just trying to just tell people what they want to hear. that is actually a really serious accusation; it’s a statement about a person’s integrity. there are a lot of people who don’t like what i have to say. yet, there are many who are now open to god, to jesus, to the journey that would never have been before. 

which is what makes the whole journey of transformation so worthwhile.

the old josh was different. and i’m really thankful for him. the person i was then is a necessary, vital part of my becoming who am i now, and who i will be in the future. 

 

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