Tennis legend Serena Williams said, “”I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people,” she wrote. “Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution.”
“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”
One of those priorities, she said, is Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm she started several years ago.”
“The other is her family and the hope of having another child with her husband Alexis Ohanian. Their daughter, Alexis Olympia, is now 4 years old. “I want to grow that family.”
– As reported on CBS News
Becoming: Crawl, walk, take flight in beauty
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
– Romans 12:2 (NASB)
Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet.
We had a plaque saying this on a wall of our home when we were raising children to remind us that the puzzle of the complete picture of each person is not finished until God is finished painting it.
We would love to be able to make sense of all the events in our lives. Our brain struggles to find meaning in everything. We can only guess. I love the illustration of an image sewn on cloth. On one side it is nothing but crossed lines and knots, signifying nothing. On the other side is a beautiful picture.
A useful exercise at just about any age is to think about what your Life Story(s) is. Stories are narratives that usually have meaning, unless it’s existential. I would interpret “existential” as we don’t yet know. What meaning have you found through the events of your lives. Thinking about this is an integrative experience similar to meditation. As you consider many experiences you begin to see meaning come from them.
I created a useful exercise on one of my Web sites: Life Stories: Everyone has experience worth passing on. It can also be a volunteer activity or a business for those who want do this work. But we have to remember that we never have the full, beautiful picture.
We think of ourselves as the being God created, never thinking that we are in the process of becoming until the day we die.
It’s a process
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18
None of us should ever think that we are complete in becoming in the image of God.
When building a house the first things you see are dirt moving. Sometimes mud. It’s ugly. You see utilities begin to make their way toward the house. Then a foundation is poured. A strong foundation is important as Jesus pointed out in Matthew 7:24-27 – don’t build a house on ground that will shift, build it on solid rock. But there’s nothing pretty about a foundation – it’s usually just cement walls.
Next you see the framing go up with coverings for the floors, walls and roof. This is nothing to look at either. Then windows and doors go on, then a bunch of wiring and plumbing, then drywall for inside wall coverings. After all of this building you still have nothing that impresses the people who will live there.
Landscapers grade and plant a yard and foliage. Siding goes on and the house starts to look good from the outside, but inside it’s an unfinished mess. Painters cover inside walls. Floors get coverings. Cabinets and appliances go in. The house begins to look livable.
Then the home owners work their magic. Furniture goes in. Finally to make it a home, pictures go up on the walls from people and events in their lives. It looks “homey.”
Our lives are like building a house. At first we’re just dirt. From the land, dirt, comes everything it takes to build a strong house and … us. For a long time there is nothing to look at. We have arms and legs and begin to find our way around in the world. Inside and out we begin to take shape – we’re form, but not really substance.
Then a beautiful, spiritual thing happens. Our soul begins to express itself and we place on our walls our spiritual journey of meaning, making sense of the world, and as Paul says, proving what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
We show that we are on that journey, imperfect, struggling, sometimes going backward or making mistakes, always on that journey whose end we don’t know. As Paul says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
What does spiritual growth mean?
In short it means that we are on a journey that makes us more like God. The long answer is that the journey gives us experiences that form our image from something that crawls from the dirt to a beautiful substance that flies. It doesn’t happen overnight; it happens over a lifetime.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” Jesus speaking to his disciples in John 14:12
We are co-creators with God. We are not exactly molded like a potter molds a beautiful vase, which is an old idea. We are always free to choose what we do, many of the experiences we have, and the direction we go.
We don’t empty ourselves to let God in, which is an old idea. We are unique creations and God gives us the talents or gifts and the will to do things, and helps shape that throughout our lives, our becoming. We use everything God has given us, every bit of who we are, and we try to be that image of love that is God.
Life has many transitions
Change is a constant no matter how much we want time to stand still and periods in our life to last forever. We go through layers of schooling, we go out on our own, we change jobs, get married, own a home and a dog, support and raise children, they leave home so a major part of our live becomes an empty nest, we may change careers as many as five times as our perspectives change, we retire, we find new things, and we deal with old age and loss.
Through our experiences we find meaning in new things. Life goes on. No matter how big or little the events in our lives, life goes on.
Some of the things we choose to do may not have even been a dream to previous generations. Yet throughout our lives we have opportunities to choose one or more of these.
We are becoming. We are always in the process of becoming. For everyone it’s different and we may not even know exactly what it is that we’re becoming. Our journeys often have sideroads that become more important to us – God gives us our desires if we keep our minds on good things – more important than what we originally set our lives on.
I wanted to be a pastor. Loved it. Yet now I communicate God’s message of love for a much larger group of people than I ever imagined. The journey was different than what I imagined. The destination(s) very different. Yet it’s very satisfying to know that I often help one or more people.
We are not transformed, we are continuously transforming. Like Serena Williams life changes and we evolve with it.
The song link below, Wonder by Natalie Merchant, was about children with special needs who she met at a day camp. Not to diminish those special people with special needs, this lovely song could apply to all of us because at some point in our lives we are all broken people with limited capabilities.
We aren’t born into this life knowing everything. Or anything. We learn to crawl … and one day we have a spiritual consciousness and become beautiful beings that fly. Life is always changing and we are always adapting and learning new things so that we are becoming a new creation that is closer to God yet very strongly who we have become because of our talents and experiences. We become co-creators with God.
Jesus healed many. Today’s physicians can heal nearly all. Each of us has a place in which we help others.
Meaning-making – author’s previous work
Albertina Walker – Please Be Patient With Me (God is not done with me yet) – song
Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.