Wow. What a year it’s been. It seems just like yesterday I was moving into Sweeney 409 in anticipation my sophomore year with many expectations and goals to pursue. Sometimes I put so much pressure on myself, that it can almost be overwhelming to dream of accomplishments with all the stresses that may come with them. But I think a lot of life is about perspective. The way you perceive a situation also reflects the outcome and everything in between. Will you choose to focus on a day filled with uncertainty or a moment filled with hope? The choice is yours. And while all my involvements and accomplishments are important from this past year, I’m going to share with you a bit about my personal growth and how I’ve applied what I’ve learned to my life.
Value experience over things.
It started with, “Teddy what do you want for Christmas?” I ignored the question for a while and waited until I was asked again when I decided I should probably provide an explanation and an answer to this question. I just kept thinking about how many ways that I’d been blessed. I had enough clothes, I had bedding, books, and so much more but kept thinking about those that don’t have any. How wrong of me to take from those who need more than I do. After all, at the end of this life all the materialistic items I acquire will not go with me, nor do I wish them to. Experience. Going out to dinner, going to a concert, doing anything at all to spend quality time with those I love, taking advantage of what this life has to offer. I learned experience is much more valuable than any THING I could ever acquire.
Be IN the world but not OF it.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds”
The world, society, what does it all mean? What is it trying to tell us? Is it trying to build us, up or tear us down? You’re not skinny enough, if you aren’t going to that party you must not be cool. Oh, and by the way… wait it’s all wrong. These are lies that the world wants our mind to believe that keep on pulling us farther and farther from whom God has created us to be. Whenever I go the gym I never want to watch any of the TVs. A murder on one screen, Gossip entertainment on another. I’ve learned that God has called us to be a new creation and has called us to be separated from the darkness and calls us to walk into the light. What the world offers is temporary satisfaction but God’s peace is eternal. Understand the world and acknowledge it, but do not dwell in the lies, rather rejoice in the truth.
Bloom where you are planted.
So many times I ask “why?” Why am I here, why now, why do I have to do this… but the finish line isn’t always seen at the beginning of the race. A friend of mine who went on my mission trip this spring break was questioning if she should go on the trip when God said, “JUST SHOW UP”. The number of times this has applied or shown up in my life since then has astounded me. God has placed us in each unique situation we are in for a purpose whether we know what it is or not, he asks us to trust him. We are all wired differently and can thrive in specific environments where others can’t. His timing is perfect and can plan specific interactions years ahead of time. So when I want to ask why, I try to remember there is a reason and to bloom where I have been planted.
Live in the moment.
This past semester, my public speaking professor was talking about how much of the time we think about the past and the future. Honestly, how often are you thinking about right now? How many times are we so focused upon what happened or what’s to come that we completely miss out on what is happening right in front of our eyes? Living in the moment means being unplugged not having your head in your phone but taking time to see, listen, and enjoy. It’s digging into deep conversations, being spontaneous, and being intentional with the time we’re given.
A big tall brick wall had been built in my backyard. Well not my actual backyard but my mental one. Feelings of inadequacy swept my mind as I became a life group (bible study) leader at the church this past year. Not only did I feel too young but I felt like I was not wise enough nor qualified enough to fill this role. I felt like I had to have it all together. Like I had to have all the answers and everyone was looking at me to see if I was performing up to my expectations. But as the year went on I realized I was supposed to be the exact opposite of that. I was a peer, guiding conversation and learning along with the rest of my group. I’m human, I make mistakes, and go through trials like everyone does. That big brick wall I was talking about earlier? God used my situation to help me break it down. I learned that the more real you are with others, the more real they will be with you. If I wanted thriving, meaningful conversations at group I had to be willing to share myself to. And this doesn’t only occur in life group but in every area of life, acknowledging my weaknesses and being brave enough to share them and impact others.
After sharing with you all of these things that I have experienced or learned please do not think I have completely conquered them. They are not a checklist that I can cross off one by one and say that I’ve got that now I’m good. All are a continual work in progress and God’s way of training our minds and reframing our perspective to see through his ultimate lenses. I am so very thankful for how God has worked in my life this past school year and all that he has taught me through my experiences and interactions. To say the title “Junior” is scary is an understatement. Half way through some of the best four years of my life. I’m very grateful for the support I’ve received from my friends, family, and community for continuing my education and enjoying this ride 🙂