College. The word rings through your ears. You thought you had mentally-prepared for this your entire life, but suddenly it's right here.
I'm going to college. Weren't "college-kids" supposed to be, you know, those older people? It feels so strange to know that that is me.
You think about your hometown, your high school, and your childhood friends. You remember that sports team you played on, the theatre production you participated in, or the mission trip you served with your local church.
You think about your friends at other universities. You think about your favorite restaurant back at home. You think about your adorable dog or cat, waiting for you back at home.
Change is difficult. Exciting, nerve-wracking, and painful. Change is inevitable. But change is still hard.
Baylor Class of 2019, this article will not look like the others that I've written because, as inspired by a video from a friend of mine, I will ask you to write this story yourself. Let me be your guide, as I take you on a journey with three critical steps. As we reach each destination on our trip, it is your job to fill in the gaps, and let the life behind you - and the life before you - shape your story.
Let us begin.
Step 1: Revel.
Now think about the small gems in your daily life - the feel of the campfire on a cold winter's night, the sound of the piano when your brother would play, a round of your favorite card game.
Stop. Before you move on, look back and revel in the triumphs of your time. Celebrate the greatest memories from your past that helped shape who you are.
Because it's time to take a step beyond these walls.
Step 2: Release.
Let go of the bitterness, judgment, resentment, and pain caused by others in your past.
Let go of the questions, hesitations, and fears caused by the decisions you've made.
Let go of the pride, arrogance, selfishness, and greed caused by the habits you've built.
Stop. Breathe. Think of the way each of these things in your life effects you. Then let go.
When you packed your bags to come to Baylor, it's possible you also packed some baggage from your former life. It's time to leave it by the roadside before you step into your new home.
However, there's one more thing you should do before the big day.
Step 3: Remember.
Remember your family - and don't you dare forget to make them a part of your next stage in life.
Remember your closest friends - the true ones who will stay by your side no matter what happens in college.
Remember your passions - and don't let anyone else tell you to do anything else.
You are unique, gifted, and prepared to make something incredible of your life. Don't start your college experience by forgetting who you are.
Think for a moment about the things that make you you.
Because once you've done these three things, let me tell you what the fourth - and final - stage of change brings.
Step 4: Rejoice.
It's time for you to explore fascinating ideas, have great conversations, learn about the world, and become a wiser human being.
It's time for you to test yourself in exciting ways, try new activities, master new skills, and uncover the talents hidden inside yourself.
It's time for you to adventure to new lands, taste new foods, hear new sounds, watch new shows, and find joy in the new life approaching.
Change is difficult. Change is exciting, nerve-wracking, and painful. Change is inevitable. But change is still hard.
Change is worth it. I pray that you discover just that.
And now it's your turn.
I hope this brings you encouragement and prepares you for some of the best years of your life. Whether you are a student at Baylor or anywhere else, I would encourage you to share this poem with them to give them some fire as they begin their journeys.
I am excited for all of you. Sic 'em.