I look in the mirror and I am still me. Amber. Five foot tall. Brown hair. Hazel eyes. Freckles that I try to hide and glasses slightly askew. If we could somehow peek inside and put my heart and mind on display, however, we would all see that I am not the same woman I was ten months ago when I began this journey.
Transformation. It is in the program’s name even if I never really considered it. I am only now starting to understand how large a component transformation is to this journey. I came into this wanting to be the transformer! I wanted to be a catalyst for change, as embarrassing as it is to admit. I had no idea that I would be the one changed. That is how it usually goes, right? Every time I have ever gone into a situation thinking I would be an instrument of transformation, one hundred percent of the time I am the one transformed. It should not be surprising, then, that I am not even a year into service and find myself unrecognizable.
Recently I spent a free Saturday night going by myself to see an independent film about human trafficking. I scroll through my social media profiles these days and all I see are posts about my concern for immigration reform, racial injustice, poverty and hunger. While it is impossible to know what my life would look like had I not participated in this opportunity, I am certain that it would not look like this.
Scripture has a lot to say about transformation. Romans tells us not to be conformed to the pattern of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (12:2). John speaks of dying to our old selves and being reborn anew (3: 3-7). Funny enough, I thought I had done all of that! My life changed dramatically when I turned to God. I changed dramatically. Change is not a one-time thing, though. How silly of me to think I had achieved perfection and no longer needed to be shaped and molded!
Justice work unravels your life, to be quite blunt. Never before did I go to the grocery store and wonder if my purchases were ethically and responsibly produced, what the treatment of the animals might have been, whether the earth was bruised and abused by the process, or if the hands preparing it received fair wages. Never did I go shopping for clothes, stroking each blouse and wonder how many children’s hands were forced to craft it. Never before was I nauseated by my privilege. When your eyes are open it is impossible to close them again. Thankfully, I do not even want to.
I am still Amber. Still five foot tall with brown hair and hazel eyes. My freckles still show even when I wish they would not and my glasses are still perpetually hanging off of my face. But I am not the same.
I am transformed.
General Board of Church and Society
Global Mission Fellow US-2, Class of 2015-2017