How 2016 was the Most Transformational Year of My Life

Written by Gary Taylor

The following is the record of my non-surgical journey from 48-year old white guy to middle-aged Asian woman.

This remarkable transformation was first brought to my attention when traveling through the Spokane airport. Like everyone else shuffling slowly through security checkpoint, I handed over my boarding pass and driver's license for TSA to look over, scribble something, and say, "Next in line."

But that's not how it played out. After scanning my driver's license, the panicked TSA guy radioed for "Mike."

"Mike, I need you to come here right away." Within minutes Mike - and several armed security - surrounded me. An interrogation began with questions about my travel: where I've been, where I'm going, why I'm going. I explained that I was a pastor (yes...I pulled the Pastor Card) and had attended a Discipleship Conference.

As I responded to their questions, TSA employees huddled around my driver's license and called the California DMV.

Eventually they explained to me what was happening. My California Driver's license should have 3 pictures of me. One clearly visible on the left, a slightly obscured picture on the bottom right, and a third picture in the upper right - a photo only visible under blacklight.

They slid my license under the blacklight and there it was - in the upper righthand corner of my license - a picture of a middle-aged Asian woman.

Crazy, huh?

Glyn laughed at all that was taking place. I made my flight, and soon began to see the humor in it all, although no one was able to explain why or how my license displayed an Asian lady's picture. I wonder if there is an Asian woman with a pasty white guy's picture on her license. Lord, help her.

The irony of this experience hit me when I considered the primary focus of the conference I had attended. A disciple is a person who is following Jesus and who is being changed - transformed - by Jesus. I called the conference leaders to let them know how impactful their conference was for me: It was so transformational that I started as an older white guy but came back as a young Asian woman.

I want to leave you with 3 basic truths about transformation, especially for those of you hoping to make changes in 2017.

One: Before lasting changes are visible to those around us, a work must take place in us. Unless there is a change within you, you are simply carrying around a fake ID, wearing yourself out while acting like someone you are not. My experience with this type of change is that it takes place very slowly - a lot like the line at the DMV.

Two: God's Word, not a mirror, reveals your identity. Part of the transforming process is learning to see yourself as God sees you. God always sees the real you - the heart He created, the soul He loves - even when it's not readily visible in your speech and actions. He knows the ongoing work He is doing within you, the inner transformation that has yet to consistently surface for others to see. Reading Ephesians chapters 1-3 could be your blacklight, revealing the "you" that exists because of what Christ has done for you. I've found that meditating on this passage is a helpful Spiritual Practice, especially in a sinful season when I'm not living according to my saintly identity. Spend less time looking in the mirror, and more time reading the Bible.

Three: When people catch a glimpse of "the you" who is visible beneath the surface of clothes and skin, expect them to stop you and ask you a bunch of questions. Why? Because the world is intrigued by a transformed soul. People will want to know your story - where you've been, where you're going, why you are who you are. I once was an ugly white guy, now I'm a photogenic Asian girl. I once was blind, now I see. I once was a slave to depraved passions and roiling emotions, now I'm beginning to taste freedom and grace.

When it comes to transformation, I still have a very, very long way to go. But here's how I see it: With each new day of 2017, it's another day for God to continue His life-changing work in me.

Glyn made one of the funnier comments regarding my airport ordeal; he said that I put the Asian in Caucasian. In a strange way, it has shaped my prayer for 2017: God, put more of Christ in this Christian.

PS - If you want to walk with me on this transformational journey, consider subscribing to my blog. www.GarysJournal.com.  I'm currently posting every Monday, hoping that my transformational breakthroughs help put more of Christ in you as a Christian.