The Serenity We Seek

Our inherent desire for transformation

May 28, 2023

Transformation Change Growth Mindset
butterfly transforming

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams

My latest TV show obsession is flipping shows—houses, flea market finds, clothing. On a Canadian show called “Hoarder House Flippers,” three teams of house flippers buy abandoned hoarder houses for a low price and turn them into desirable homes to resell for profit. On another show, “Flea Market Flip,” contestants are given a budget of $500 to hunt for three pieces at a flea market that they then refurbish in the hopes of reselling them for a profit at the same flea market. I love seeing the transformations that the houses and items go through, from trash to treasure. They are almost unrecognizable in the after pictures. All because someone saw the potential in them.

It seems we humans are fascinated by transformation, by extreme makeovers and stories of personal evolution. The movie theater is full of tales of metamorphosis, a character’s profound change from a former self. Isn’t that what makes some of the best storylines? Many of us naturally gravitate toward experiences and products claiming to offer positive change in our lives—retreats, workshops, books, skincare, supplements, apps. And more often than not, we want the flip without having to put in the hard labor.

What is so alluring about transformation? Why are there seasons in our life where we are seeking it fervently?

I think it’s because the desire for renewal is built into our nature. Just as a snake sheds its skin several times a year, we have an itch to shed pieces of us that no longer fit in different seasons of our life. Ideas, thought patterns, habits, beliefs… if they no longer serve us, carrying them around is more painful than trying to change. We reach a point where revamping ourselves sounds freeing, rejuvenating. As the adage goes, the only constant is change.

This craving for something different can manifest itself in various ways—from a mere feeling of being in a funk or being stuck to more extreme behaviors like quitting a job or ending a relationship. For some it takes the form of travel. We long to know we are progressing. Because remaining stagnant is poison for the soul. This is not to say we need to keep busy or never rest, far from it. This is a call for purposeful movement. For taking steps in the direction that is best suited for our expansion. We move intentionally toward our highest calling.

Just as natural as the yearning to see our lives transformed is, so is the apprehension behind actually making it happen.

As much as we want renewal, we are afraid to cross that bridge. Change, as enticing as it may sound, is scary. It requires something from us—a display of courage. Holding on to what’s familiar seems easier. Yet, we cannot transform with the same mindset that has kept us stuck. We must shift our way of thinking in a way that opens it up for a new thread to begin weaving. If we truly want to see a radical alteration take place, we must be willing to let go of what no longer works, no matter how desperately our ego wants to hold on to it.

There are areas of my life where I could use some good old-fashioned transformation. But the clinging to old patterns, destructive though they might be, is hard to break. So then maybe we start small. Releasing a negative thought just for today. Not withholding love just in this argument. Spending a little extra time in prayer just this morning. Sure, an overhaul of our life in one fell swoop might sound appealing, but could it be that we would get overwhelmed? Could it be that we would need time to adjust to such an abrupt change? The grass may seem greener on that side, but we are creatures of habit, after all. At least I am.

Maybe, if we consciously transform enough moments, they will add up to the serenity we seek.

And one day, we will find that our lives are unrecognizable in the “after picture,” in the best way possible. Not on a movie screen or in a TV show, but in our very own home. In our very own skin. And hopefully, somewhere along the way, we arrive at a place of contentment, with ourselves and our place in the world. No longer seeking transformation at all, but wholeheartedly in love with our life exactly the way it is—messy and complicated and demanding, but also full and beautiful and peppered with miracles. No refurbishing required.