Ever have it all figured out? I mean really figured out. Had the world by the tail. Knew what you were doing and what everyone else should be doing and could tell them so?That was me at 24. I pretty much ran the world. And I was good at it.
At 24, I had been out of college for two years, was a highly-regarded young professional at a global communications firm and was engaged to be married to a very handsome guy.
I was, by all accounts, very successful. And I had been successful my whole life. In 24 years, I had suffered very few failures. At least as far as I knew. I was a compliant child, a successful teenager and a forward-progressing young adult. I was perfect. My life was as perfect as it could be. I had orchestrated a perfect life.
What I really was was deceived. I had a bad, bad case of PRIDE —
P — Puffed up. I mean really full of myself. I was perfect. I never said the wrong thing, never did the wrong thing. Ever. As far as I was concerned, anway.
R — Risk averse. I never did anything that could lead to failure, that I didn’t know I would be good at. Because failure doesn’t fit in the picture of the always-successful, the always perfect. Only do the things you’re good at and your perfect record remains in tact.
I — Irritating. Can you imagine living with me? Or being my friend? I mean really, who wants to live with someone who is always right? No one, really. But one person in particular really didn’t.
D — Dead to life. I grew up believing that life was work and work was life. There was no room for fun, for living and it didn’t matter anyway because I didn’t know how to have fun. Who had time for hobbies or interests or real friendships if you were always working?
E — Eternally lost. And I had no concept of what that meant or how the condition of my soul impacted how lived. When you don’t have the peace that salvation brings, you live life in perpetual anxiety, worry and fear. Of everything and everyone, not just death. In hindsight, this made living life exhausting.
Proverbs 16:18 says
First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. (The Message)
I had a big ego. My fall would be hard.
I did marry the handsome guy when I was 26. We had a lovely wedding. Two months after we got married, he told me he wanted a divorce. Marriage was not what he thought it was going to be. I was not what he thought I was going to be. And he was right to think that. I was the perfect girlfriend. I was not the perfect wife. Because he was not the perfect husband. And I had a hard time dealing with the lack of perfection in other people so needless to say, I didn’t handle his shortcomings too well. I stayed angry. And anger always has to be expressed. When I expressed my anger at my husband, I was not nice. I raged. It was a nightmare. For him and for me.
I was failing. At marriage. And I didn’t know how to fail.
Meanwhile, my mom, who had raised me and my sister as a single parent, was dying of cancer. It was hard to accept her diagnosis. Even harder to accept that regardless of the fact that we as family were doing everything right — following doctors orders, gutting out grueling chemotherapy treatments, suffering through the horrendous side affects — my mom was not getting better. As a family, we were not used to this kind of failure. We did right things right and right things happened. Cancer was not cooperating with our family approach to life.
Clearly, something had to change. I’m pretty convinced that the the Lord thought so, too. He needed to allow circumstances to unfold so I could see that my way of living was not working. I needed to crash. To fall.
Six months after I got married, my mother died. I was devastated. My mother was gone and marriage was flat-lined. I was a basket-case. I didn’t know how to cope with this much loss, with this much failure. I needed help.
A cousin came along side me and started to share Jesus Christ with me. She told me that He was the answer to all of my problems. For now and for my eternity. I needed to be transformed, she said. Jesus was in the transformation business. I started reading the Bible looking for hope, searching for answers. I began attending an evangelical church. A big switch for a girl who had been raised to be a very good Catholic. I didn’t care. I needed answers.
Nine months later, in a hotel room in New York City while on a business trip, I finally broke. I cried out. I was in a lot of pain. And I needed help. I needed a Savior. I needed Jesus.
I flew home the next day, crying the entire flight. The Lord’s spirit began the transformation on the plane. I cried because I was so convicted. Convicted over how my pride was the root of how horribly I treated my husband. How I had a big hand in why the marriage was in such trouble. I needed to be different if things were going to change…
At rest and not striving.
Allowing the Lord to do work I was never meant to do.
I got off the plane and committed to being different.
My transformation had begun.
A week later, my husband filed for divorce. He was done living with me. Jesus had caught me just in time. I never would have survived the body blow of the moment if I hadn’t had Him with me, in me and around me. The work of transformation began in earnest at that point.
The marriage didn’t survive. But I did. Or the new me did. The new creation. Me. The Lord’s handiwork, His personal improvement project. He saved me. So I would be with Him forever. To give me a life. To transform me. For His glory.
That was over 17 years ago. I’ve never looked back. He’s still at work. Everyday. To make me a reflection of Him.
What’s your transformation story?