As you start classes today, I want to share some thoughts and words with you in this new year. Bear with me because at times I may seem nostalgic for days gone by.
This year will be different. You will face challenges you did not face last year, but you will also taste success that you did not sample last year. Every year of your collegiate experience is different but you don’t realize it until well past the time you could have enjoyed it. Take time this year to revel in the tasks you face, whether projects or job responsibilities. There will never be another time in your life where you face them with the tool box you have right now.
You have the opportunity, right now, to choose how your day is going to go. We don’t get to decide others’ actions, but we do decide how we react. Face your reaction with purpose, with thought, and with the knowledge you carry right now. Frustrations and temptations will mount quickly, but in those find who you are and how you choose to confront them. You be you, not a version of someone else.
Take time this year to get to know someone deeper. This can be a resident, a classmate, a professor, an administrator, or a pastor. But take that time to foster community with another person whom you don’t know that well right now. As humans we deeply want connection and community, and you have the power to encourage and grow the community you encounter daily. Make a cognizant and consistent choice to water the community so it will grow. Invite someone to coffee and foster a conversation. You’ll be surprised when two hours later you are discussing life lessons with a new mentor or friend.
Know you are being prayed for daily. Take hold of the knowledge that numerous people are praying for your growth, development, and sustainment in each and every moment. If you reach a point in your journey this year where you are drained, discouraged, or weary, or if you are facing a challenge, let someone know by simply asking them to pray for you. Let me know personally and I will pray, as I continue to pray over you now as you begin the year.
Get outside of your comfort zone at least once a week (or once a month at the very least). What does that look like? Engage in a new study area on campus, try getting involved in a student organization you never would have thought to look into, sit in a different area in class…you create your own adventure this year. And let it be a glorious adventure, full of rough terrain and strolling meadows. But make this year YOUR YEAR. Own it. Embrace it. Live it. Don’t just let it pass by.