Show me the good

Everything is changing. This is what I keep thinking these days -- that everything around me feels like it's changing.

I sit here in Nashville, on this bed with a white comforter that reminds me of home except not. I seem to do my best summer debriefing when I am away -- just far enough, like a plane ride to Nashville, or that car ride last year to Florida. 

Leaving makes me understand why we stay. I enter an airport and am suddenly nostalgic: grasping at the last bits of summer all the while knowing it's slipping through my fingertips faster than I can catch. I remember that this is why we stay -- because the people we love dearly are reason worth staying for.

I entered this summer in a terrified state of mediocrity. That seemed, to me, worse than having a hard time. Even though I had just had my first art show and was utterly dazzled by the kindness people showed me there, I was still strangely scared that I would only ever be mediocre.

Show me the good, my heart whispered to God, without my mind being aware of the request. Show me the good. 

And he did.

I saw the good while we were dancing at midnight, our lungs burning and throats sore from singing as hard as we could. I'll remember how I felt then: so free, and yet entangled at the same time. Entangled in summer and being twenty-two and knowing those warm, late nights were ending soon.

I saw the good in the faces of my friends. When they held my hands and prayed for me, when we laughed until our eyes dripped, when we cheers'd and sang and danced. When the windows were rolled down and we sat by the water and we laid under the stars. I saw the good when we talked of God's goodness and his remarkable love.

I saw the good in California and now in Nashville and when I drive alone in my car. When I prayed the whole way home and God kept urging me to love harder, to love deeper, to love more intentionally -- even when love feels like hurt sometimes.

I saw the good this week on the airplane when I read John 10:10 -- I came that you may have life, and have life to the full -- and it felt as though Jesus was telling me, "Aliza, this summer was a glimpse of your life to the full," and I felt like crying because it was such a precious, precious gift.

I saw the good in dozens of shared plates of nachos and rounds of Dutch Blitz. In glasses of wine and sitting in the hot tub, and making lists of all the dreams I'd long to have if nothing could stop me.

But even when I think of all the good God has continually shown me this summer, the fear still sneaks in somedays. In these moments, when the fear is most evident, my heart feels smashed open. My hands will shake, and so will my insides. I'll think that I'll want to be alone, and two moments later long to be surrounded by people. I'll feel as if I'm falling -- hard and fast, soon to crash and splatter, a million fragmented pieces.

I'll sit with my hands beneath me to try and cease the shaking. I'll feel like a quivering, terrified mess of a girl, and I'll feel guilty for feeling this way after seeing all of the good.

But in a few weeks, everything is changing. And fear is large and looming and often more recognizable than peace.

So I'll take my shaky hands and insides and I'll lie down. And I'll say to Jesus again and again, show me the good. 

And this, more than anything, is true --

he will.

A thousand ways we can change the world

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 10.57.42 AM I watercolour gardens because I've longed to plant flowers but never have. So I create them on paper instead: roses and tulips and lilies, because they're Sarah's favourite, and I keep thinking I want to paint sunflowers too. I'd paint them on my arms if I could, and then they'd sink into my veins, all yellow and dainty and fresh, and I'd be growing a garden deep inside of me. Would I feel brighter then? Would the world feel brighter too?

How can I change this world?

I wonder. Don't we all wonder on these January evenings? It feels like the Earth's been reset, but we know it's still spinning. Midnight strikes and the world is tinged sparkly and golden, but we see the news. We hear the stories.  Some of us go away for awhile, keeping the blinds drawn because the sun hurts our eyes as well as our insides.

The cynics say resolutions are pointless. The hopeful make lists of the things that they plan to do different. I'm not one nor the other, though I have a word dangling on a necklace that marks what I hold for this brand new year.

We'll screw up a few times -- look, I already have. We'll celebrate hard, and maybe buy bits of confetti to toss into friends hair. There's a time for everything, and sadness and celebration are among that everything.

I'd like to change the world, I think.

I lay in bed at one in the morning, dreaming up a million different things -- watercolour gardens, and kind words, a dozen lilies handed to a sad girl.

There's a thousand ways we can change the world each day. I think it begins inside -- that soft place right next to your beating heart. The resolutions are fine, and the one word is good, but if we're not looking out at the world and wondering how we might be a part of some change, then what is the point of this new, clean slate? Well, I'm not sure.

Changing the world might look different for you than me. I think that's beautiful. We're all capable of bringing more yellow to the grey, of adding brightness to the dreary dark. Whether that's through daisies, or paint, or a cup of tea. We all have ways of changing our world. The world in front of us, and the world far away.

There's a thousand ways we can change the world each day.

So I'm going to.

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