Monday, August 4, 2014

This Glowing Summer

This summer was that present that you aren't expecting, and ends up being your favorite. A Christmas gift that comes in the mail on the 27th, and makes you squeal in surprise and delight. (Or maybe just break a slight smile if you're the stoic type.) This summer was dancing in the rain, running through the dark, catching the setting light as it dazzled through the bright summer leaves. It was long talks with friends, homecooked meals, and spinning across the living room when no one else was around. It was unexpected friendships, community that I didn't think I would find, and overwhelmingly - and I think most importantly - a sense of comfort with myself.

I've been blessed this summer through a worship service at a local church for college aged young adults - with hang outs before and after, laughter, and conversations about the things that matter. I don't want to forget those late nights at Taco Bell or Starbucks or loitering in the church parking lot way after service ended. There is nothing else quite like friends who eagerly want to talk about God and how incredible He is and all of the marvels He has done in our lives. Oh, He has been too good to me. I really do not deserve the ways that He has blessed me this summer.

Through His grace, love, and mercy, He has healed so many things that have been broken in my life. Things that I have done, things that others have done, and things that are just part of being human. He's helped me to grow into someone a little bit closer to who I hope and strive to be, someone a little more like Jesus. And I need all the help I can get in that area. Oh my goodness. Just thinking about how absolutely hopeless I am without Him...I couldn't do it.

Being back home for the summer, a number of people told me that I'm different. I know I am. I've grown in the past year. The best way I can put it, as I told a friend, is that I'm a little bit more of all the best parts of me, the things that most make me Savannah. Some of that is exposing the problems within myself - the things that need some work. It's never exactly fun to realize, "Drat. I've been acting so cold to this person" or short-tempered or petty or self-absorbed. But isn't that what growing is?

When we realize those issues about ourselves (which hopefully we all do at some point), we've got a choice. I could easily have said, "Well that person isn't exactly friendly to me," or "Wow. I suck. I can't belief how awful of a person I am." Neither of those responses is good - but I have done both in the past (and probably will sometime again).

This summer, though, I think I made some progress. Instead of making excuses or just moping about my issues, I decided to work on them. I've chosen to let the circumstances that expose my rough bits to refine me instead of beating me down. Just like those rocks that look so dirty, boring, ordinary - and then you throw them into that plastic tumbling contraption from the museum gift shop, and they come out as beautiful gems.

Am I saying that I'm suddenly now a beautiful gem? Ha! Hardly. My tumbling process is still in the warming up phases. But my hope is that as life tumbles along, more and more of all my grittiness gets worn away, and this summer has left me feeling a little bit more shiny.

I really was not expecting much from this summer. I whined about it a ridiculous amount. Crazy as it sounds, I didn't want it to happen. But God. He took pity on my lame, whiny self and gave me a fantastic few months anyway. To all of you friends and coworkers and even customers that I got to spend time with and get to know a bit better, thank you. This summer has been a blessing. I love people. Really. For all the drama we humans cause and the petty things we get hung up on and the flighty feelings that we let decide for us all too often - there is still a lot of good, and so much potential in us. And Heaven knows we need every bit of that potential we can get, and a whole lot of grace.

So as this summer rolls towards fall, and the days begin to shorten, and new seasons of life unfold, how about we remember all the good times we've had? We remember the happy moments and the accomplishments and the tiny little things that make us smile. And then we use those memories and work to make the world a better place. Help people who need it, in your own neighborhood and across the globe. Pray for those situations that seem impossible (because God doesn't see the "im" in impossible). Keep on striving for what you know is right, what you know needs to happen. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Let's take our summer glow, and keep it shining through the winter.

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