Lifelines-Exploring Life Issues Lifelines-Exploring Life Issues

Stop: Discerning the Difference Between
Transformation and Change
Many years ago, a stop sign was placed at an intersection that I navigated daily. The change in the intersection that the stop sign created was not particularly significant for me. Until the day when I approached the stop sign, halted briefly, and then proceeded. Very shortly afterwards, I saw the flashing blue lights of a police car signaling me to pull over. As the officer approached the car, I couldn't imagine why he was stopping me; soon enough, I knew. While writing the ticket, he went to great lengths to inform me of the difference in a "full stop" and a "rolling stop," which he alleged that I had executed. He also took the opportunity to point out the risk of harm I had visited not only on myself, but also on other motorists and pedestrians by failing to fully stop.

When the officer finally left, I was flooded with thoughts and feelings. I had moved from responding to a change at an intersection to what I now recognize as a moment of transformation. The change was simple: it entailed nothing more than being willing to adapt the manner in which I passed through the intersection in the future. The transformation that occurred, however, involved a deep internal awareness that pulled me to understanding that compromising the rules is not alright just because no one was hurt by my momentary lapse of judgment.

As Flora Slosson Wuellner observes in Transformation: Our Fear, Our Longing, "Transformation involves much more than mere adaptation to outer manipulation. Transformation implies new being…new creation rather than change." Change is inevitable. It occurs whether we want it to or not. Transformation is not always a part of change. Hopefully, what we aim for is movement from one situation to another that is not only about difference, but about effect that is life altering.

Change and Transformation are sometimes the Cause and Effect partners in our lives. Their co-mingling provides us with the opportunity to become the fully human beings God intends us all to be. Change becomes transformative in the fleeting moment when we allow the presence of something greater than ourselves to inform us. It is in that moment that the ordinary can become the extraordinary.

The Rev. Lenn Harris Milam
Pastoral Counselor
Samaritan Counseling Centers

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