By Christie Weakly, USA
As you can tell from the picture, I’m on my way to school! And as you can also probably tell, there are a lot of feelings accompanying my departure (take a closer look at the whiteboard I’m holding). I’ve already been at college for a while, and I’ve been away for a semester before, but I haven’t gone off to a university—not for real, anyway. My most overwhelming sentiment is, by far, excitement. I can’t wait to get there and see what great adventures await me. It’s been almost two years since my first visit, and I’ve wanted ever since then to go back to school, but God has kept me behind until now. And gosh, am I ready to go!
Before I left, I looked all of the girls I’m mentoring in the eyes and asked, “How are you going to live intentionally this next year? What do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to be at the end of this year?” And, of course, I’ve asked myself these questions too. All summer I’ve pondered my goals and desires for the next semester. How do I prepare for it? How do I use my summer holidays wisely? I answered those questions and lived this summer intentionally. I spent my time with people I either wanted to be like or that I wanted to mentor. I wrote. I thought. I read books. I had quiet times. I worked. I exercised. I accomplished things for which I could look back at and say, “I lived that summer well.” And this week, I sat down and decided my priorities for the coming year.
I asked myself, “What would make this year one that, when I look back at it next spring, I could say was well lived?” I decided on several things that I want to do. First, I want to manage my time well. I want to know where the hours go for I want to spend them well. Next, I want to make time with God a priority. I know that unless I make intentional efforts, my devotional time is the first thing to go on a busy day. So I’m putting priority on that: I must have quiet times! Also, I want to eat healthily. I want to keep myself in shape and remain fit. No freshman fifteen* for me! I also want to foster deep relationships. I want to make lots of good girlfriends and connect with them on a deeper level. My list goes on and on. These decisions on what I want to do are very important, but I believe the more important one is my decision on who I want to be.
I’ll give a little background on this one. Before my good friend Joy and I went our separate ways to college, we had a fun dinner with a few families who prayed for Joy and I. As a part of our sending off, Joy’s mom Sally told me something that stuck. She asked what my apprehensions were for going to college. I told her that if I had to choose something, it would be the fear that I’ll be lonely, and that no one would make an effort to get to know me or love me on a deep level. She told me that the best way to remedy or not worry about that is to focus on serving others. I had thought a lot about that before, but not in the context of my concerns of not making good, lasting friendships. I came to this conclusion: If my goal is to serve others, I will never be disappointed in them. And that brings me to my second decision on who I want to be.
I want to look back at the end of the school year and see a change in myself. I want to become more of a servant, like the apostle Paul encourages us to do in Galatians 5:13. I want to focus more on other people. I want to think of how I can give to them, not how they can give to me. I have a pair of teacups I’m bringing—along with Yorkshire Gold tea and Lindt chocolate balls—so I can give little tea parties. I have tons of stationery to write notes to people when they are having hard days (Romans 12:15b). I have a lot of nail polish so I can give other girls manicures. I have a first aid kit with ibuprofen, nyquil, sudafed, etc. so I can take care of girls who are sick (Luke 10:9). I want to use all of these tools to facilitate deep conversation and to bring life to my environment. I want to show others extravagant love, to be a beacon of light as God calls us to be in Matthew 5:16, and proof that God loves and provides, not just for the necessities, but for the extra things that we sometimes simply want, not always need (2 Corinthians 9:8). This is the change I want to see in myself!
I also know I need to learn accountability, because each of us will give an account to God (Romans 14:12). That is one reason I’m writing this all out here! Now all of you know my goals, I have no choice but to do them. I told Joy and another dear friend, along with the girls in Joy’s and my Bible study group, that we’re going to skype every week, look at each other in the eyes, and ask, “How are you REALLY doing on your goals?” and scold each other for being lazy.
So I ask you the same thing: How are you going to live out your next year intentionally? Who do you want to be by the end of it? Make a plan. Write out your goals. I wrote a big long list of everything I want to do and be, a standard so to speak, so I can check up on myself and see how I’m doing every week. This summer, every Sunday, I’ve gone to Starbucks for a few hours to read my Bible, journal, and generally assess my life and myself. I’m going to continue this habit at school and take every week to decide what I can do better the next week. A life well lived doesn’t happen by accident; it takes work and vision.
Well, that pretty much wraps up my little speech about intentionality, for now at least!
Let’s live this year like it’s our last! Intentionally. Like my mom says, go M.A.D.(Make A Difference)!
*The Freshman fifteen is an expression commonly used in the United States and Canada that refers to an amount (somewhat arbitrarily set at fifteen pounds) of weight often gained during a student’s first year at college. (Source: Wikipedia)