Today is a day that I both look forward to and somewhat dread. October 30th will forever be one of my most favorite days, but it will also be one that causes a few tears to silently stream down my face. This is because today is Maliyah’s birthday. A day that I love because the joy she experiences on her birthday is vast, and it gives me the opportunity to celebrate her, and shower her with love. The tears come because with each passing year, the number of the candles on her cake goes up, her innocence diminishes, and I am slowly forced to believe the reality that she is no longer a baby. The things she is capable of doing on her own increases with each passing day and forces me to remember that she is growing up.
Two weeks ago I was able to go home for a few days and relish in the moments that I got to spend with my family. Before this break, it had been a little over eight weeks since I had seen my family, but judging by how much Maliyah had changed in those eight weeks, I felt like I had been gone for six months. The little girl I had said goodbye to eight weeks ago knew her numbers well, but now she could now rattle off her addition and subtraction facts like she had known them her whole life. The girl who used to tell jokes that I laughed at because they were cute was now telling jokes that were actually funny because her sense of humor had matured. The girl who I always carried around on my hip was now so heavy that a few minutes of holding her had my arms aching. And most amazing of all, the girl who was learning to read before could now ramble off almost any words you put in front of her.
There is something so beautiful and awe-inspiring about watching a child learn to read. It is as if their eyes are finally opened, and they are able to truly be a part of the world. Their world goes from being black and white to being vibrantly alive and full of every color in the rainbow. It is life changing.
Until you watch a child learn to read, it is easy to forget how often we rely on our reading skills to make sense of the world. For the few days I was home with Maliyah, she read almost every sign that we saw when I hadn’t even consciously realized I had already made sense of what it said just by glancing at it. TV ads, texts, menus, letters, directions, the list of the things we read are endless, and for a child who can suddenly understand all of this, their lenses with which they view the world are drastically changed.
Being able to make out most words drastically transforms their attitude. Every time Maliyah reads something, her chest puffs out a little more, and her smile grows. She is so proud of herself and so thrilled that she is just like the rest of us. She now knows what we know, and that is exciting to her.
Her life is forever changed. Because she can read, she can understand things she couldn’t before. She can make better decisions. She can form more of her own ideas. She can communicate better. She can live life a radically different way.
I find so much beauty in that. I love the wonder that she is experiencing in this transformation. I love how thrilling it is for her to understand things she didn’t before. I love how much more confident and independent she is. I love how proud she feels.
In the slightest of ways, I am somewhat jealous of what she is experiencing. Every time I watch her make out a sentence and grin at her accomplishment I think, “If only I could go back to that moment in first grade and have that ‘ah-ha’ moment while actually understanding all that is going on.” I would love for my world to transform right before my eyes, while at the same time, I was comprehending all the changes I was experiencing. How exhilarating that would be. To have my eyes opened and my world changed again.
In thinking about this for the last few weeks I have come to the conclusion that I can. I can experience that thrilling life change over and over again. I can have my eyes opened and my world changed. I can have my world go from being black and white to being vibrantly alive and full of every color in the rainbow.
John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
We are offered the most priceless and unfathomable gift of having our world transform before our eyes every single day.
Before Jesus comes into our life, the world just isn’t as spectacular, but when we let Him in, everything changes. Even if we have Him in our life, it requires us to consciously choose to embrace Him and invite Him into our every moment. We must ask Him to give us His eyes, His heart, and His wisdom. That is when the transformation begins.
Without Jesus, a newborn baby is a miracle, but with Jesus, a newborn baby is a perfect little life with a story already written out for them. Without Jesus, the changing of the seasons is beautiful, but with Jesus, they are constant reminders of His faithfulness that is present in every season of our lives. Without Him, family is a rich blessing we get to experience, but with Him, family takes on a whole new meaning as we realize how humbling it is to be chosen to be a part of God’s family. Without Him, death stings, but with Him, death comes with the promise of experiencing eternal life with Him. Without Him, trials in our life are times full of exhaustion and hurt, but with Him, they can also come with the anticipation to see the ways God will display His faithfulness and mercy through the hard times. Without Him, sin equals death, but with Him, sin is forgiven. Without Him, this world has no hope, but with Him, the hope is unending.
Without Jesus this world is dark. The pain is debilitating. The hurt is life altering, The anger is fierce. A life lived without Jesus holds no hope, no joy, and no peace. It is lifeless. It is black and white.
With Jesus, the light is turned on. When He is a part of our lives, His hope, grace, love, forgiveness, mercy, and faithfulness is transformational. The pain isn’t so debilitating because He is greater. The hurt isn’t so life altering because He heals. The anger isn’t so fierce, because He offers us peace. A life lived with Him is anything but lifeless. Instead, every single day, every single second, is one that vivaciously praises His name and who He is. It is a life that is overflowing with vivacity even on the darkest of days. It is exploding with the most vibrant, beautiful, jaw-dropping colors.
Choosing to have Jesus in our life radically transforms our world. When we choose to be full of Jesus, seek Him continually, and do our best to live like He lived, we can understand so much more. When we ask Him to give us His eyes, everything will look different and some parts of the world and our lives will make so much more sense. Our decisions will be wiser and more grounded, leading us in the right direction. Life will not be easier, but it will be better.
Accepting Jesus doesn’t make our life less busy or overwhelming. It doesn’t clear up our schedule and wipe away our plethora of emotions. Instead, having Jesus makes the chaos of life go from looking like bombs exploding, to awe-inspiring fireworks. He doesn’t take away all of our problems. He doesn’t promise us there won’t be hurt, but He does promise us that life with Him will be like the 4th of July – bursting with color. Bone chilling. Radical. Spectacular. Irreplaceable. Anything but black and white.
About the Author
Hi! My name is Morgan Colander. I am a junior at Lee University in Tennessee studying to be an elementary teacher. I am attempting to survive these college years as I learn to rely more on God and less on myself while being surrounded by new opportunities and decisions. College has presented itself with its difficulties- college budget, college dorms, college food, an endless list of things to do, and plenty of homesickness- but through it all, I have never been more dependent on God and realized how incapable I am to do life without Him. God, family, and friends are all I need to survive in life but some junior mints, a hike up a mountain, laughter, and some sarcasm definitely add some joy to the journey.