Can I Interest You In A Transformation?
Back in March, (or could it have been April?) when the shutdown was in full swing and not stuttering on as it is now, I walked into a Target. Fully masked, my husband and I waited for our pick-up order. And when it wasn't quite ready, I rebelliously walked around the mostly empty aisles. Spring dresses, colorful dishes, pictures to hang on walls. It all struck me as a little odd, like a museum of consumerism in a post-consumer society.
Imagine entertaining, I thought to myself. Imagine wanting something new and pretty for my guests to admire as I served them fancy appetizers or refreshing drinks. It had only been a few weeks, but already the seasonal nature of a department store seemed outlandish. I was learning, as we all were then, that entire seasons could be skipped.
Like most of my friends, I quit putting on makeup or styling my hair. I dressed in clothes that felt easy and comfortable—no need for shoes that pinched my toes or skirts that hugged my waist.
How long does it take to detox from the glittery offerings of the world? I'm not sure. I wasn't measuring. But at some point in the last four months, I stopped wanting to turn myself into one of the shiny baubles on display, whispering to me of worthiness and value.
Today, I glanced into my rearview mirror and admired my freckles, the dark contour under my eyes, the wrinkles developing around my mouth and on my neck, the simplicity of my face, unadorned. I realized that I liked myself quite a bit when I had no one to compare myself to. And later, as I added groceries to my cart, I recognized that I was never competing with the other women in the grocery store or at the park. I had always compared myself with the women in the ads, the ones re-created in the image of our capitalist gods, designed to create in me an insatiable need for more. More solutions for aging, more length and volume in my lashes, more glitz in my wardrobe, more glam in my home, more ways to please a lustful eye with a toned body that magically maintained its tempting curves. But where were those ads now? They had all but disappeared in my simplified life. No magazines in waiting rooms or at the gym, no massive displays in department stores, or previews at the movies, my life had unintentionally become less commercial.
I felt like I had undergone an unmaking, not by doing anything in particular, but merely by abstaining from the economy. Not entirely, of course. I buy groceries. I ordered some dresses online once, I've purchased birthday gifts for friends and family, along with a few Father's day presents. I have not been absent from the economy, but it has not consumed my attention. And just this week, almost four months into my unintended sabbatical from society, I found myself not disdaining the perpetual roundness of my belly, the result of the five children knit together there. I have been finding my body acceptable, stretch marks and all.
Modern society had transformed me into a striving consumer. It didn't take a lot, just unfettered exposure to a persistent worldview. I did not study how to transform myself or work hard at my discipleship. I simply beheld what was put on offer and compared myself to it.
And now that I've been unmade, what comes next? For me today, it was just a reminder that God has asked me to be transformed. He has asked me to conform to His likeness. And maybe it isn't as challenging as I used to believe. I recognize now how easy it is to adopt a likeness. It's as simple as letting something consume my attention. Maybe I don't have to study and work to be transformed into the image of Christ. Maybe I simply have to behold what is on offer in the gospel and keep comparing myself to it.
Amy Noel Green is a Ted Speaker, author, and video game designer. She received international press attention for her work on the video game "That Dragon, Cancer." The video game tells the story of her son Joel who died from cancer at the age of five.
She is the author of the upcoming book, "Dear God, How Could You?" (When Joel died of cancer after years of miracles, Amy questioned God. She shouted her betrayed, angry questions at the God she no longer understood. She buried many miracles with Joel. She buried her relationship with God too, but God’s love for her refused to stay in the grave.) Subscribe for updates on the bottom of her about page, to be notified when her book is published.