Understanding Transformation: Growing in Love

Is emotional maturity the same thing as spiritual maturity? How does character transformation happen? I love the intersection of spirituality and the neuroscience of transformation, so this morning, I learned from a conversation between Michael Sullivant and Dr. Jim Wilder as they talk about his work with Dallas Willard and this concept of spiritual transformation.

I learned that spiritual disciplines (prayer, journaling, Bible reading, attending church, etc) are a strategy “driven by the conscious mind which is dominantly on the left side of the brain.” But character transformation–which is about identity and ourselves in relationship with others–is “driven by the right side of the brain.” And we aren’t the best at growing relationally and deeper into love. I could spend my whole life learning more about love. Couldn’t you? As someone who loves this intersection between psychology and spirituality, I’m understanding more and more the importance of growing relationally while investing time in the spiritual disciplines. There’s a way to combine them. Perhaps we might see how fostering loving relationships serves as a spiritual discipline–a way to make room for God to change us.

I love this idea: Spiritual disciplines are a way to “make room for God” to work as we think about our own growth. We often don’t make room at all for anything other than our own mind thinking through solutions to problems. What would it look like to “make room” for God to grow something different within us? In particular, how do we grow more and more into the kind of deeply loving relationships that God intended for us? As loneliness and dehumanization thrive, and as college students in particular feel detached from others and even themselves, I wish to press on into the study of transformation and how it involves both our disciplines and our work at relating well to other.

Two clues: Loving others means holding them in our minds–thinking of their interests and not just our own (Philippians 2:4). And it also means the willingness to suffer for others–to lay down our lives for them (1 John 3:16).

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