This picture was taken approximately a year ago, and the following piece was written shortly after.

Gray clouds and rain were the ominous jewels in today’s crown.

From this morning until a few seconds before I took this picture, the skies cried. However, when I stepped up to the window–my small window from which I look out onto the world–I saw beautiful colors in the place of the dark gray. Bright orange stretches out and yawns into a blue that fades into cotton candy pink.

My first insticnt was to take a picture, but I shook my head in refusal, wanting to live in the present moment and not wanting to have to worry about pushing the blinds that would get in the way.

To my surprise, I realized that this is the beauty of that moment. Yes, the sky that God graciously showed me after a day of clouds and rain is beautiful. Yes, the fact that I wanted to live in the present moment is beautiful. But the lesson behind it all–the lesson is gorgeous.

God has been teaching me lately that I need to change my perspective. It first started when I would look up to the trees standing above my head while walking on campus. Day in and day out, I walk the same path from my car to my job, and at the end of the day, I reverse my steps. I don’t do so well with routines that become dull around the edges, and I am always quick to settle into pessimism and negativity. By looking up at the trees, though, God showed me that a little change of perspective could brighten my day. If I choose to look up at the trees and see their beautiful green leaves crowned by the brilliant sun, a little optimism and positivity will brighten my day. If I choose to look up to the God who is faithful on my good days, my mediocre days, and my bad days, then His love and grace will brighten my life.

So it is the same with this sunset after the storm. I had just gotten home and changed into comfortable clothes after a productive day at work. For once, my mindset wasn’t drowned in pessimism and negativity–it was graced with a focus and readiness that also recognized a need to rest occasionally throughout the day. This is why the clouds and the rain didn’t bother me–in fact, it made me look forward even more to going home and resting, which made me want to work harder so I could look forward to going home and curling up with a blanket and a good book. Yet when I saw the beautiful colors of the sunset, I couldn’t help but praise God.

He is with me in the storm, and He is with me in the sunset. And even when I think it’s not best to take a photo to remember the moment because I don’t want the picture ruined by the blinds, He helps me recognize that the blinds are everyday stressors–stressors that I easily allow to ruin my perspective. This is why, after first refusing to take the picture, I ran to grab my phone. This is me learning God’s little lessons that He gives me throughout the day, whether I’m paying attention or not. Whether I’m more focused on the blinds or the sunset.

If you’re like me, it’s easy to focus on the blinds that are nothing but one bland color. It’s easy to focus on the dark clouds and persistent rain. For so long, I have been focusing on the wrong things. When I am walking on campus, I am so focused on looking straight ahead or down at the ground. If you could look into my eyes, you’d probably see them drowning in self-pity and depression. They were eyes that so easily overlooked the good and bright things in life and focused on the bad and dark things in life.

I thank God that He is teaching me to look up, whether it’s to the trees above me or the sunset sitting outside my window. Or to the God who owns the trees, the sunset, and the blinds–to the God who owns my today.

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