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“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

How do you look at the world and not see what is there – but what could be?

The way a writer looks at a blank page and sees a story, a musician sits down at their instrument and hears an unwritten song, a painter picks up a brush to transform a white canvas into a work of art.

This year has brought a surplus of time to self-reflect. For many of us, 2020 became a crossroads. When faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, fears, or failures, we were left with a decision: are we going to stay the same person we were before the world flipped upside down, or are we going to grow and change with it?

A new world requires a new you.

And let’s be honest – the new doesn’t always come easy.

I’m sure you’ve felt the growing pains this year – maybe your prayers don’t flow the way they used to because they’re suddenly too small or self-focused. Your worship might not feel as impactful because now you need to bring a deeper level of vulnerability with your surrender. Maybe your faith feels stunted because you can’t bring yourself to hand your fears to God and trust them in His hands.

I love Romans 12:2 because it says, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world.’ The words ‘Do not’ are a big help here, because sometimes we feel that it’s not up to us. If the world tells us to be afraid, we have to be afraid! But the scripture is clear – if the writer Paul is telling us not to do something, it means that it is within our power not to do it. We do not have to conform.

When you decide what will shape the person you want to be, you have two options: your character or your circumstance. 99% of what happens in the world is beyond your control. But you know what? Your character is 100% your own responsibility. When your character is rooted in Christ, no circumstance can change you.

The verse continues to this: ’…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’

How do we not conform? We transform! We become new. We take the growing pains of developing our character and we let God lead us into a better future.

In this verse, it says the way to transform is by renewing your mind. Learn to think differently, and you’ll learn to live differently. Don’t just see the world around you – see what it could be.

My favorite subject in high school was psychology and one of the most interesting subjects we studied was the idea of ‘functional fixedness.’ Basically, functional fixedness is a limited way of thinking that means a person only sees or uses an object in the way it is traditionally used.

Here’s an example of how functional fixedness ruins lives (this is a slight exaggeration):

A table is lopsided because a screw is loose. I look at the loose screw and think it can only be tightened with a screwdriver – because that tool was created to tighten screws. But let’s say I don’t have a screwdriver…then what? If I have functional fixedness, I conclude the table must be lopsided forever, because the screw cannot be tightened.

Someone without functional fixedness could look at that table and think – ‘Oh, I could use a coin to tighten the screw.’ Pull a coin out of their pocket, tighten the screw, and it would be fixed.

The point is this: if I look at an object and only see it for what it is or what it’s supposed to be, I never see it for what it could be.

This principle extends to our entire lives!

This new world we’re in calls for new minds and new eyes. Why are we looking at everything in it like it’s supposed to be, and not what it could be?

Yes, schools were supposed to be open.

Graduation was supposed to be happen as planned.

Dating and hanging out with friends was supposed to be fun, not a health risk.

But God’s intention for you is not to live your life in a ‘should have been.’ That’s living for the past, not for the future.

The future God has for you is ALWAYS greater than what came before. You know why? Because God loves to do new things in us, through us, and for us, and he doesn’t copy and paste. He creates with new beauty, new splendor, new wonder. Just for YOU.

So yes, life doesn’t look like you thought it would. But now – neither do you.

You are getting stronger.

You are growing tougher.

You fight with resilience.

You lead with integrity.

You let Christ shape your character, and your character shape your future – not your circumstance.

Pray and ask God today:

What do you need me to see differently?

What am I not using that’s right in front of me?

What expectation do I need to let go of to not live in the past?

What are you renewing in me to create a better future?

God wants to change how we perceive the world – He asks us to lay down what we believe our lives SHOULD look like, what the world SHOULD look like, for us to be able to live, live well… and to live original.

Brooke Figueroa is a pastor at Mosaic, a church in Los Angeles, CA. She loves drinking espresso with her husband, leading worship with Mosaic MSC, and reading an absurd amount of books. She’d love to meet you on Instagram at @brookeofigueroa

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