The decoration lights have been cascaded into the living room. The beds have been made. The shoes have been given a rack. The shower caddies have been placed on thier shelf. The books have found a drawer. It was not even a week ago that this girl officially moved back into yet another place that I call home, my univeristy! This university, is not just a university by it’s logo when you drive in, it’s apparel in the campus store, or it’s well constructed classrooms. My university is a university by the people who embody what it means to live and do life together in a community that stands to be the House of God. As I made my way down the road that led to my dorm for the first time, I was greeted by the lovely and inspiring ladies I can now call my roommates! Shoutout to the lovely ladies pictured above- Ginnie, Alicia, Ranae, and Jasmine! But as I walked around this campus, and I was greeted by more and more of the incredible people created in God’s image, all I felt was a propelling agape love. It became increasingly finite to me to fix my thoughts on the fact that each of these people may be labeled and stereotyped from the world, but to God they each have stories, hopes, dreams, experiences, and walks of life that they have lived. What might this school year or this commumity look like, if we were to see each other through the lens of how God sees us?
The pencils have found a pouch. The outfit has been set out. The notebooks have been packed. The snacks have been contained. The planner has been color coded. The g-cal has been filled. This week just so happens to be the first week of my 2019-2020 school year. As I looked around my classroom at all of the new haricuts, new hair colors, new outfits, smiling faces, and even tense postures, I can sense the exctiement and the suspense of what the new school year will bring. This week marks a new school year, and therefore a new beginning. It was then that I questioned why new beginnings, such as this, seem to bring so much new energy. It could be the new classrooms, the new professors, the new classmates, new teammates, new club members, new activities, new workouts to push your limits, new topics to discuss, new papers to write, new textbooks to study, new dorms to live in, new roommates to live with, new decorations to put up, new concerts to attend, new scents at Bath and Body Works to smell :), new sermons to here in chapel, new songs to sing in worship, new resturants to try, new places to shop, new clothes to wear, new meal plans to eat with, new coworkers to work with, and so on and so forth. But I invite you to stop and notice what each of these things have in common. I believe this true excitement is coming from the feeling of what it feels like when all of our surroundings, our routines, and our relationships are made new. So what is it that we really enjoy about the feeling of a new school year?
Perhaps, it is the idea that all things of the past are changing, are whiped clean, and we have a bare slate to start over again. And if this feeling of freshness from the school year makes us feel so refreshed, then how much more fresh might we feel if we let God wash us afresh each and every day!?! I believe that this feeling of a clean slate has been given to us by God Himself. When Christ took all of our past upon Himself and chose to die, so that we might be washed clean, we were made free from all the weight of our past that weighs us down. If we truly desire to be made free from all of the difficulties or stresses that keep us down, and we want this feeling of newness to last all school year long, then perhaps we can make it about inviting God into each day and recognizing that He has paid the price for us to walk in freedom and freshness each and every day.
If we so desire to make this feeling of freshness last all year round, it is up to us to invite God into our darkness, our pain, our struggle, so that He and He alone can make us full and breathe fresh air and fresh life into our lungs. As I have walked with and without God, I have continually come to understand that God has given us the free will to invite Him into our lives, our battles, our valleys, our moutaintops, and everything in between. I beleive that when God said that we shall ask and recieve, He was giving us the task of choosing to be eternally filled by Him or to be temporarily filled by the world.
That being said, beyond seeking God to help us walk in freedom each day, I think it is important to maintain both spiritual and physical change and newness in our lives. Why do we always start our new seasons of life so strong, and trickle downwards in motivation and habits as we go on into the middle and end? How can we keep the freshness alive all school year? I think the way in which this freshness disappears is not only from forgetting to seek God, but also from falling into repetitive routines or conveniances that become too much of a second nature. The danger of becoming too comfortable is sacrificing the growth and freshness that comes from seeking change and possibly seeking discomfort. If we truly want to keep this spirit of freshness alive all school year, I think it is important to keep challenging your routines or conveniences to keep creating and stengthening new pathways in our brains and new character traits in our personas.
Beyond the way in which Jesus’ death makes us anew each day, here are ways to keep life fresh:
- Devices: Change your phone, iPad, or computer to another language that you are in the process of learning. Change your weather app to Celius instead of Fahrenheit (or vice versa). Change your clock from standard to time to military time or to a different time zone. Change your lock and home screen photos. Change your passcode.
- Media or Virtual Intake: Take some time to sort through your social medias and news apps to decide what you want to take in and what really inspires you. I recommend unfollowing those who no longer inspire you or those you have not met. Search for those you know are close to or those that post what you care about and follow them instead.
- Auditory Intake: Be concious about what you choose to take into your mind through what you listen to. Perhaps if you like listening to the classical genre of music, try listening to jazz. If you like usually listen to music, try listening to a podcast or sermon instead.
- Hobbies: In your free time, seek out a new activity, new club, or new skill that you want to learn outside of or instead of the hobbies that are different, but similar to the hobbies you currently spend your time doing. Perhaps if you usually like to make drawing, try learning to paint. Perhaps if you like hiking, try mountain biking.
- Speaking: Try speaking a language you are learning for a whole day without speaking your first language (for example, if my first language is english, challenge myself to speak french all day… with any necessary exceptions/ find freinds who understand you/ are learning it too/ teach them by using gestures as you speak.
- Morning/Night Routine: Try to complete your morning and/or night routine with your non-dominant hands/arms/feet/side for a day or more to strengthen the non-dominant side of your brain. Perhaps if your right handed, try brushing your teeth with your left hand! If your left handed, try combing your hair with your right hand!
- Sleeping: Train your body to sleep in a different position than you usually sleep in. For example if you normally sleep on your sides, try sleeping on your sides or vice versa. Another option is to make your bed with the pillow at the foot of the bed instead of at the head of the bed.
- Driving: Take back roads to your school or work instead of your regular drive. With possible allowance of more time for getting lost, this is a great opportunity to explore a new local culture with new attractions and new scenery. You might even find a new park to hike or coffee shop to try.
- Work Space: Whether you work from home or you are doing coursework, I challenge you to change the location of where you choose to work. Perhaps if you usually work inside, try going outside. If you usually work in loud spaces, try somewhere more quiet. If you usually work at home at a desk, try going to a local coffee shop.
- Living Space: Take 30 minutes or less to move around the furniture in one or more rooms of your living space. Change the theme of your decorations by colors or style with the decoartions in your basment or storage. If you normally use rustic and wooden decor, try going for an all nuetral decor to build off of the wooden theme with a little tweek 🙂
- Eating: Be concious about your taste buds and try a different food palette whether it be cooking at home, ordering in, or seeking out a restuarant. If you usually eat stirfry, try a burrito bowl.
And the One sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”…”Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”…”It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega- the Beginning and the End. To all who are theirsty, I will give freely from the springs of the water of life
~ Revelation 21:5-6
So my dear reader, as this well runs dry for today I must ask you this: What might this school year or this commumity look like, if we were to see each other through the lens of how God sees us? How can this school year be different than the last? What might you do to exercise your freedom from routine and comfort zones?
Sing a song for the soul: Start of Something New- High School Musical