One of my close friends gave me a similar list as I entered my senior year of high school, and it was one of the greatest reminders when I felt incapable or unworthy. Entering my sophomore year of college, I still look back at the list that I made when I graduated from high school to provide myself encouragement when I am overwhelmed.
Do the right thing...even when it's hard.
It's such a big idea to start with, but SO important! I love the verses Matthew 7:13-14 when God tells us to choose the narrow road, for it leads to His Kingdom. I cannot stress this enough -- you may feel alone, frustrated and torn, but Heaven will be a party like no other! When all of the little things begin adding up, remember to look towards the eternal goal instead of focusing on the struggles that are set before you on Earth.
Find good girlfriends.
Whether you are involved in a sorority or not, there are SO many ways to get involved on campus and find a group that fits your needs! These girls are the ones you will talk to constantly, vent to, and laugh and cry with! Find them, and keep them...do not let dumb situations ruin these cherished relationships.
Most of all, choose the QUALITY of your girlfriends over QUANTITY.
Boyfriends are fun, but not a necessity.
At the time, I was struggling with finding my worth in guys rather than in Christ. Although I now have a boyfriend, he was placed in my life at the perfect time -- a time I was NOT looking for a boyfriend and had finally found my own identity and self-worth. I realized that having good guy friends that were uplifting and laid-back gave me the break I needed from being surrounded by girls all the time. Guy FRIENDS provide the desperately needed distraction from the drama that often follows girls.
Respect is giving high regard to others. I would say this goes hand-in-hand with humility (freedom from pride or arrogance). Being respectful means saying you're sorry. It means listening to others when they speak. It means giving others all of your attention, whether it is a child, classmate, teacher, or family member. Be humble, and respect everyone.
Say your thank yous.
It is so easy to forget to say thank you for the simple things, but the appreciation goes a long way. Notice when someone does a small act of kindness for you. Let others know that their actions have not gone unnoticed. ALWAYS be thankful. It may be a small gesture to say those two little words, but it speaks volumes of your character.
Make friends wherever you go.
If you're at the gym, church, or grocery store, spread the love!! This does not mean you have to be best friends or close acquaintances with the girl who runs beside you on the treadmill. It just means that these "small" relationships that you build may be the highlight of someone else's day or your own! You never know what someone else may be going through or how your "hello" could make an impact.
Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
Romans 2 shows us that God is the eternal and ONLY judge, so we are not to judge others based on what we think is right. Instead, I've learned to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe it's the girl you hated in the 7th grade because she didn't invite you to the slumber party and you never got over it. Maybe it's the boy that broke your heart. Remember that you do not know their heart -- God does. My mom puts Luke 6:32 in a nutshell with the words...
love the unlovely.
College is fun and full of new experiences! It is also one of the most stressful and overwhelming times of your life. I have learned that more often than not I have to push myself to maintain schoolwork, workout goals, and relationships. Each day is not always easy, but each day is always a new day!
Your accomplishments don't define who you are, but the way you strive to get there does. You are more capable than you think, and if you try...who knows what you can do!
My mentor in high school once shared with me the idea of a continual prayer that goes, "And God...", throughout the day, instead of just the morning and bedtime prayers with nothing in between. Prayer became a constant conversation instead of a formal ritual of religion. I began to use my, "And God"'s to ask for patience, self-control, and kindness throughout the day.
These small prayers helped me say my thank you's along the way, too.
Love on your mom and dad.
If your parents are anything like mine, you don't have the option of living with your mom and dad forever. So, take it all in. Give them a call to chat about life. Shoot them a text to let them know you are thinking about them. Ask for advice. Let your parents know you love them...they won't be here forever.
Chase after Jesus.
Entering college, I had only known church every Sunday morning and night. It was not optional. I fell away from who I am in Christ to chase after my own worldly desires, as many of us do. It was my first chance at "freedom". As I enter this year, I am trying to cling to my advice from a little over a year ago...
There is only one thing to chase after -- its Jesus. It's not a boyfriend, a letter grade, or recognition. These things we frequently chase after can easily take our focus away from our Creator. The bridge of Jimmy Needham's song, "Clear the Stage" explains it perfectly...
Anything I put before my God is an idol, and anything I want to do with all my heart is an idol, and anything I can't stop thinking of is an idol, and anything that I give all my love is an idol.
Take your thoughts, take your efforts, take your heart, and give them all to Jesus.
I hope these words are as relevant and encouraging to you as they still are to me.