Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is. And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure. (I John 3:2-3 CSB)

Transformation is not a pretty process. True rehabilitation, like the renovation on an old house that’s falling apart, only happens when the old, crumbling, moldy, and rusty parts are stripped away, revealing the naked truth underneath. It’s only when we are elbow-deep in mud and muck that we can see the strong, shining bones below on which we can build something beautiful.

Even during seasons of reflection and repentance, we can be tempted to put too much emphasis on the “after” part of a transformation. Sure, everyone loves gasping and applauding at the big reveal at the end of a home improvement show. And it is absolutely inspiring to read about someone’s triumph over adversity, especially when the hero used to be an underdog.

But what about when that excavation and rehabilitation takes place in our hearts and our lives? When we are only willing to direct our gaze on the after pictures, we’re missing the hard-fought beauty of that behind-the-scenes battle. We’re missing out on the chance to more fully understand the sacrifice that led to the victory, to more completely appreciate the reward that only came as a result of the work. And we’re missing the whole truth about who we are and how vast the gap between “before” and “after” truly is.

If I wait until I’ve “got it all together” to reveal my struggles, I’m robbing God of the opportunity to shine through my ugliness and my mess. I’m forgetting that He is the only one who can make me a new creation, and He won’t transform me until I lay myself bare before Him and let Him get to work. As we turn to the cross and the One who loves us at our ugliest and promises to redeem our worst messes, it will certainly reveal to us the true beauty of transformation.

Dear God, forgive me. Forgive me for judging other people’s messes and hiding my own. Forgive me for believing I can fix my problems and make over my life by myself. I know that’s not true, but I’m no longer discouraged by that fact because I know You can redeem all things. Thank You, God. Thank You for loving me at my ugliest and messiest. Thank You for never turning away when I am falling apart. And thank You for creating in me a clean heart and restoring my spirit. Please help me to remember that You are the builder and the artist my house and my heart need. I love You, Lord. Amen.

This is an excerpt from Journey to the Cross: Forty Days to Prepare Your Heart for Easter, from the (in)courage community. If you are enjoying this series, you can purchase the book to experience forty days of encouragement and guided Scripture, reflections, and prayers.