By Dr. Scott Hovater
Graduation is around the corner and your life is about to change. You will soon be entering the work force full time or heading off to graduate school. Many of you will get married and start a family. All of you are starting a new chapter in your life. Thanks to the education you received here at GCU, you are well equipped for the next challenges and adventures of your life. Over the past few years, you have been academically trained, spiritually equipped, emotionally strengthened, and have learned to engage with others in positive, meaningful ways. You are ready! Make your mark on this world! Go Lopes!
While excitement is in the air about the adventures awaiting you, it is also important to take a moment and make sure you finish your time at GCU well. Do not let the dreaded disease of senioritis engulf you! Resist the temptation to just coast to the finish line. Instead, make the most of these last few days of college life by creating a list of things you want to do. We will call this the ‘Last Opportunities’ list. Checking off everything on this list will help you run full throttle towards that graduation finish line and provide you with great memories to cherish for the rest of your life.
While everyone’s ‘Last Opportunities’ list will be different, here are some ideas to help you get started:
Plant the Seeds: Create Your Last Opportunities List
This may seem obvious, but it is surprising how many best laid plans go unfinished just because we never took the time to plan them out first. We can dream all we want, but initial action is required. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 11:4 that “whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” In other words, do not just think about planting a crop, plant it and then remember to reap what you have sown. Create your list!
Sow Kind Words: Be of Good Cheer
Keeping with the theme of planting a crop, one item on your list should be to support those around you by offering words of encouragement. Like you, many others are entering a transitional period of their lives. This can come with anxiety about what the future entails or even about whether they will pass all their classes! List out those who you feel need some encouragement and go and offer it to them. Proverbs 12:25 says, “anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Besides providing encouragement to others, your cheerful attitude will also likely rub off on you as well. Sow kind words and your eventual harvest will be great.
Sow Gratitude: Give Thank You Notes
A very tangible way to be a blessing to others and to end your time at GCU on a high note, is to give simple thank you notes to those who have contributed to your success. On your ‘Last Opportunities’ list write down the names of people who have inspired you, taught you, mentored you, and who were just there whenever you needed support. These can include your parents and other family members, your professors, classmates, roommates, friends, etc… Offering thanks and demonstrating gratitude to others is one of the greatest gifts we can provide. Sowing gratitude is like watering and fertilizing your crop. It helps to create good soil that can produce a plentiful harvest. This is because gratitude has a ripple effect. Those who are shown gratitude tend to offer gratitude to others. In this way, you are touching the lives of people you do not even know. How wonderful is that! Finally, while creating thank you notes does require a little extra effort it will be worth it. Galatians 6:9 tells us to “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Mend Broken Fences: Seek Forgiveness
On your list, you might also include those whom you may not have a good relationship with due to unfortunate circumstances created by you or them. Now is the time to mend those broken fences before it is too late. It is impossible to please everyone or for everyone to like us; however, it is possible for us to forgive those who have hurt us. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Seeking and offering forgiveness is very difficult, but we are commanded to do so. Mend those fences so that no critters will get in and destroy the crop that you are carefully tending.
Reap Memories: Visit Your Favorite Stomping Grounds
GCU has a beautiful campus. Think about going on a walkabout all by yourself. While walking through campus reflect on the memories you have made at GCU. Take pictures and short videos that you can share with those children and grandchildren you might have one day! As we all know, GCU’s physical campus continues to grow and change. Capture GCU in its current form. Also take some time to go to your favorite spots. Sit in your favorite study spot, relax in your hammock one more time, eat at your favorite restaurant, bask in the sun on the GCU lawn, go to the spot you always go to when you just want to get away from everything. Take a trip down memory lane and jot down thoughts you are having. Your future self will appreciate it.
Harvest Mementoes: Collect Keepsakes
Find items that will help you remember your time at GCU. Buy a GCU magnet from the Lopes Store that you can place on your refrigerator, or some other token that when you see it and touch it, it will immediately jog your memory and take you back to your college days. Take the time to organize the pictures and videos on your phone. Put them in folders and write down the names of everyone in the photos and their relationship to you. You do not want to take a trip down memory lane in thirty or forty years and not remember names, places, or relationships. Again, your future self will appreciate the time and effort you put in.
Offer Up Praise: Pay It Forward
After completing everything on your ‘Last Opportunities’ list, take time to offer up a prayer of thanks for all those who invested in your education and have helped you to become the person you are today. Each of us owes an unpayable debt to those whose shoulders we stand upon. While we cannot repay it, we can pay it forward by working on a new list: a ‘Future Opportunities’ list! Reinvest the harvest that you have reaped and plant new crops. In that way you can reap a harvest that is thirty, sixty or a hundred times what was initial sown into you (Mark 4:20).
Congratulations on your upcoming graduation. Finish well and cherish those last opportunities.
“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).