In the last few blogs I have written about our personal journey into crucifixion, time in the tomb and our own resurrection through Divine transformation. (To follow along, you may wish to read The death of Good Friday., Empire of Dirt and Rise up! ) I didn’t mention something- what might happen after all this journeying. Gird your loins. It may not be pretty. But then again, it might be beautiful.
After the resurrection of Jesus, his friends are walking to Emmaus. They are talking among themselves and are approached by a stranger. After some discussion, they discover it is not a stranger, but Jesus, who they had just seen be crucified in Jerusalem not long before. This post resurrected body/energy was so different they did not really see who he was.
We often think, how could they be so daft, these followers of Jesus? How could they NOT recognise their friend they knew so well and followed for a long time? If we shift this story from seeing with the eyes, to, seeing with the eyes of the heart it makes sense.
Have you ever changed something in your life and your friends or family have said, “I don’t even know who you are any more” or, “You are not the same person you were when I met you.” And I hope they say that because of good changes. Well, in the eyes of Jesus followers maybe something similar happened.
I’ve posted about personal transformation in my earlier blogs and I share them so something may be of help to you. But be prepared. The new you may not be recognizable to those who are close to you. And that may or may not be a good thing, depending on the nature of the change. I speak from experience. Some people just can’t handle the transformation- 1) sometimes because we transcend out of our old selves and 2) sometimes because we are now equals. Some friendships have power differentials where a friend may feel more powerful than how they perceive you and when you are no longer unequal, lose your usefulness to them. So who am I to talk about this? I’m certainly not perfect but God works hard on me and I am not the person I used to be. I have lost some friends because of this transformation. Sometimes good and sometimes bad.
The first example that comes to mind was an ill fated relationship. I had just come out of the most difficult period of my life. There were three situations in three months that involved the death of two people and the third involved a criminal case that I was a witness in. I ended up moving away a few months later. I quickly met someone who I thought was good for me. Until… I started to heal from these situations and I started to gain strength, perseverance and greater self understanding. My appeal to this person soon started to wain as I transformed and they found someone else who was equally as vulnerable as my former self. It turned out this person was a rescuer and perceived me as a victim…until I worked through my pain and loss and started to transform out of it. That relationship dissolved quickly and I am grateful it did.
I had another friendship that devolved when I moved oversees, got engaged and changed my life direction. ” I don’t even know who you are anymore” was the point of disengagement. My reply was, “Then get to know me where I am at now. I am not the same person you met 8 years ago. And I thank God for that.” The person deleted me from all social media and messaging. Did it hurt? Yeah, and it still does and that was over a year ago. But at the same time, she also wasn’t willing to get to know the new me. That is the part that hurt. We had been through a lot together, supported each other, took self improvement classes together…one of the bonds of our friendship is that we were after the same thing-becoming better versions of ourselves.
There are going to be times in our lives when we are transformed by resurrection from our old ways, attitudes, thinking, feeling and way of being. There are also going to be folks who may not recongise this in a way that we would want. Is it going to hurt? Possibly. During my transformation, I have had many, many, friends ‘unfriend’ me on social media for various reasons. What I post about isn’t relevant to them (often too political or religious), some of them are uneasy with the changes I have made in my life (for the better), others haven’t spoken to me in three years so there isn’t a point in being ‘friends’ and for others they think that my ever changing life is too much to keep up with and get fed up that I haven’t ‘settled down’. For others, it is because “I don’t know who you are anymore.” And I am sure there are lots of reasons, too. But the number of social media friends does not bolster my self worth, either.
When Jesus meets his friends on the Road to Emmaus, he lets his friends wonder who he is for most of the day. When they have an evening meal, they realise who he is. They don’t get stuck in who they thought Jesus was (like our friends sometimes do). They are willing to see him with new eyes and when they do, they CELEBRATE that. They run back to Jerusalem with excitement in the middle of the night to tell all their friends about the good news. They don’t stay in Emmaus (for whatever reason they were going there in the first place). They leave immediately. That is how it should be. We should have friends that celebrate our new life and help us to live out our life mission!
We must be bold, make wise decisions, be open to God’s directing of us, be willing to listen, and, be willing to see ourselves and others with new eyes in times of transformation. It is difficult to not hold someone prisoner to your opinion of them (or they of you) of one small period of life. It can be a risk to be transformed and suffer the loss of friends…but it can also be exactly how God is working in life towards many great things. Sometimes the mending is in the breaking. And for example of that, just look to the cross to see how something that is broken also heals.
Prayer for lost relationships after transformation
I don’t pretend to be better than ________. I do not want my new found transformation to be arrogant or self confident. Please help my transformation be humble and inspiring and please continue to help me transform. For the people that have let go of me during this time, bless them. I bless them for being teachers in my life and I ask you to reconcile us in a way that is for the greatest good of each of us. For the people that I have let go during this time, bless them. Help me to not hold people prisoners of my own opinion while others are on a journey of self discovery. Help me to be patient, kind and understanding. Join me, God, as I learn to be like Jesus followers whose eyes are opened, excitement leads me to places of joy and happiness. I ask all this in your name. Amen.