Sun rays coming through cloudy skies

I Will Teach You to See in Color

I will teach you to see in color.

The leaves were falling off the trees, the birds were flying into a clamshell sky, and I had just been resurrected into eternal life.

RESURRECTION: Act I

My father has this lovely habit: when the house is quiet and all its members are off in their rooms, he will wash the dishes and talk out loud to God. Sighing, he might start off by saying “What do I do?” His sun-worn fingers will wrestle with the dishes as his soul wrestles with the stresses of life.

I’ve spent many years listening to his prayers from my room, and over time I developed the same habit. When I have a lot on my mind, I take walks where I can talk to my Creator in that easy, familiar speech. Sometimes it feels as though, if I can just look into my peripheral vision fast enough, He is right there with me.

I accepted Christ into my heart when I was three years old. I remember the exact moment that I asked my mom to help me pray under the twinkling lights during Christmas time. I knew that I wanted to be with Jesus. Baby Jesus seemed to be speaking from his crib into mine, and I loved him with my whole heart. He became a child to love me as a child and He walked with me as I grew up.

As a teenager there was a combination of my own personality, circumstances I could not control, and my changing body that pulled me into a dark depression. Therapy didn’t seem to help, though to be transparent, I didn’t really want to let it help me. The only places I could go were to my journal and to my piano.

Soon, even those were taken from me as I began feeling more than depressed. I was entirely apathetic. I didn’t like music. I didn’t like art. I didn’t like anything.

I had been feeling a sense of conviction about my apathy, so I went on a walk.

I still remember well my conversation with God.

“Lord,” I said, “I just don’t understand. I’ve read all about how Christians are supposed to have joy and peace. I don’t have any of that! Is there something I’m missing? Why don’t I have joy?”

I looked at the sky; it was gray. I listened to the silence. Then, unspeakably, I felt like I was breathing for the first time.

I will teach you to see in color. These words filled my heart and soul to the brim. No one had spoken them out loud, but they were there. And for the first time I felt like I could see the world.

Look, the leaves were falling off the trees and the birds were flying into a clamshell sky. I had been resurrected into eternal life, right there and right then.

My sadness did not disappear overnight; however, the beauty of being resurrected into ever-renewing life is this: Jesus Christ continues to save and renew us in His time and His way. He was teaching me day by day how to see beauty in the world.

RESURRECTION: Act II

Life seems to ebb and flow. There are moments of victory and failure, moments of purpose and aimlessness. Sometimes things happen that we don’t understand. I felt like I had taken two steps forward and three steps back.

I still remember the day that I shaved my head.

I was staying in a house with a bunch of college girls when the Covid Pandemic shut classes down my freshman year. I told them I wanted to shave my head and some of them were wary. Are you sure you want to do this? I started asking around town for hair clippers I could borrow, and some of my mentors made sure to pull me aside and ask if everything was alright between God and I. I truly believe that rather than a cry for help, this was the beginning of a positive transformation.

Bzzzzzzz. My friend who had agreed to shave my head for me had plugged in the clippers.

I couldn’t wait. I started taking scissors to my hair before anyone could begin trimming it. It was cathartic; as my hair fell away so did the feeling of those awful hands that assaulted me.

It had been mere weeks since school shut down. I wanted to hide away. My heart had been falling to pieces as I was forced to come to terms with the fact that I had been sexually assaulted over the past couple of months.

The silence crawled under my skin, but my Lord was there too. I clung to His robes fiercely, tenderly, and desperately all at once.

Bzzzzzz.

My hair fell to the floor in chunks. With each chunk I took off, I erased the feeling of abusive hands in my hair. I had nightmares and phantom traces of the abuse for months, afraid to even let my shoulder touch any man in a hallway if they walked past me. With each hair on the ground, I had more and more hope that one day I would erase all traces of how my body had been abused.

My dream as a girl was to find a man that loved me and protected me, but I had gotten mixed up with a man who hurt me repeatedly. I was too lovestruck to realize that every “no” that was ignored or pushed to the side was not normal. After a while I became too numb to be able to fight back. I felt dirty and broken, but more than that I was silent. I had become someone I didn’t even know.

I found the way out of that relationship as I went on a walk one night. Tears streamed down my face. I knelt to the ground in the middle of a dirt road, hand to my chest in agony. I called my brother, the only one I could tell about what had been happening, and I said, “I think God is done with me.” How could God see me as His when I felt so broken?

“If you think God is done with you, then you don’t know God,” he said back to me.

He was right.

My God sees me. What my brother said rang like a bell through my heart.

I looked at the stars in the sky and whispered, “Save me.” The night sky felt warm, and I did not feel alone. Before that moment, I was under the unspoken impression that the way to God’s heart was to earn His love with my own goodness, my own perfection, or my own works. I felt that the abuse I had suffered was my fault, and therefore God could no longer love me. After that moment, I knew the truth:

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39, NLT)

What my brother said gave me the courage to open up to the rest of my family about my relationship. They gently explained to me that it sounded like I was being abused and loved me more than I imagined. They held me accountable for breaking up with him, and I’m so thankful because I could not have done it on my own.

Bzzzzzz.

When all the hair had fallen to the ground, I raced to the mirror and gasped.

For the first time in a year, I felt truly beautiful. I was new. I did not look like the same person who had been abused, and I could no longer feel those phantom fingers in my hair.

Nothing can separate me from my Savior, not the powers of hell or darkness.

RESURRECTION: Act III

When Jesus woke up in the tomb, what did he think about? What does God think when death lamely fails to contain him?

I know what my thoughts have been every time God breathes life into me: Thank goodness.

My experiences with Jesus and this warm grace led me to missions because I wanted to shout from the rooftops: “He is where life is found! Jesus is where your freedom is!” In fact, Jesus is life and freedom! Nothing has ever made my heart pound so hard as seeing others find this life.

God taught me how to see the world, and he never left me through any of my struggles. I want everyone to know this beautiful God.

Throughout this process of falling in love with mission work, I found OMF. Or maybe OMF found me.

Nathan, an OMF missionary, had come to speak at my college and when I saw him I knew he was a man of God that I needed to talk to. At this point, I was letting my hair grow out and it was an unruly pixie-cut that I hid under a hat in the winter months. When I sat down with him, he filled me with hope that God could actually use me. He also gave me so many books about Southeast Asia and missionary biographies. I devoured them all.

As God’s plan would have it, Serve Asia (a branch of OMF dedicated to short-term missions) was looking for writers. That was something I could do while being in college. I started writing for them.

Through being involved with OMF, God has continued to show me that all the world needs Jesus and that even my small contributions matter. Though I find that sometimes life is still busier than I would like it to be, God doesn’t mind using the small things we offer up to Him. In fact, He makes it his business to multiply whatever we can give so that all glory goes to Him.

There will be no end to this resurrection Jesus has invited me into. As life goes on and seasons come and go, I will continue to be brought to life by the Bread and Wine Himself. I can assure you that no matter where you are, whether in the searching, the falling apart, or the rejoicing, God will continue to empower you to live a new life with Him as your dearest love and guide.

Ariel StewartAbout the Author: Ariel Stewart started writing for OMF in 2021 motivated by bringing hope and the light of Christ to all people. She graduated with her Bachelors in Bible Theology in 2023, followed shortly by getting married, and she is expecting her first child in the fall. Her training in theology has led her to a passion for the gospel and how stories can set people free by giving them a space to meet Christ. Now she meets a new training ground to see the light of Christ through becoming a mother. Ariel has also written How to Follow Christ While You’re Waiting and the profile of OMF’s Retiree Coordinator, Pam Kaczmarczyk.

(Sky photo credit: Joel Henry, Unsplash)

Share this post

Have Questions? Send us an email.

To help you serve better, kindly fill all the fields (required). Your query will be routed to the relevant OMF team.

Contact Form

By clicking Submit, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with the terms in our Privacy Policy.

You’re on the OMF US website.
We have a network of centres across the world.
If your country is not listed, please select our International website.