Unity In Christ

Religion & Faith * by Joshua Lehman

Josh is a student at Roberts Wesleyan College, graduating Spring of 2023. Josh is majoring in Adolescent Education, specializing in social studies, also minoring in music. He has played the piano for a little over ten years now. He wants to teach piano lessons on the side of being a high school social studies teacher. Josh has a passion for spreading God’s Word and was excited when he heard about this journal. Josh grew up in a small town called Lowville, New York, roughly three hours northeast of Rochester. He is also interested in mission work later in his life; wherever God leads Josh, He’ll go.

“God wants unity in His Church above all else; without unity, there is disunity; this will only lead to the church’s downfall.”

How can we unite in the age of different Christian ideologies? How does God want us to interact with our fellow believers, even when we might really disagree doctrinally?

People may have different ideologies and perceptions of what God’s purpose truly is regarding the words and interpretation of the Bible. We realize these different perceptions of the Bible are only differing in opinions, not merely denouncing God. Everyone on this campus has differing opinions and doctrinal views. This is great, but it can bring about some conflict if we do not consider the opposing side. We shouldn’t let others’ beliefs dictate how we interact with them and let our prejudices seep in the way of our moral judgment. We should focus on the fundamental idea to unite as the Christian Church and as a Christian body.

The Church as a whole is in one respect God’s way of getting people to build a growing relationship with Him. The characteristic of having a fruitful relationship with our Father starts with the church body. God established the church for His people to find common ground and seek Him above all else. God wants unity in His Church above all else; without unity, there is disunity; this will only lead to the church’s downfall. When God brought the Holy Spirit down on the Galileans who were there to celebrate Pentecost, unity in the Spirit was shown.

The Holy Spirit was present in every individual when they celebrated Pentecost and Peter realized what was truly happening. When the onlookers thought the people in the meeting were drunk, they only looked at the situation from an earthly perspective. We, as Christians, have to realize that the Holy Spirit works in each one of us differently. When we talk about God to our friends who are not Christian, all the believers should act as though we are united under one Faith, not under our differences. If we do not do this, the non-believer will call out our hypocrisy and have a hard time turning to the Lord because of the hypocrisy they saw.

“This planting of our viewpoints will help show us our differences, and we will work together to see the other side of where we stand.”

It seems like we as college students can sow unity through our campus by instilling positive messages from the Bible to our fellow believers in Christ. This planting of our viewpoints will help show us our differences, and we will work together to see the other side of where we stand. Unity in Christ is what God wants, and disunity of God’s people is what Satan wants. Straying away from where God wants us as a Church is what Satan wants. These disagreements in the Church will only bring denominational conflicts. God wants to know us and have a relationship with us; He doesn’t want us to fight over the little things.

Sin

Religion & Faith * Kate Nguyen

Kate likes beauty- seeing it and creating it.
Sometimes Kate enjoys taking a step back and away to listen to the world that she’s in, often to find everyone is saying the same thing in so many different voices.
Kate thinks dragons are cool.

“I often wonder if the idea of sin only bothers us due to its negative connotation and notion of guilt. Would sin hurt if we did not acknowledge it?”

If you’re like me, you have made mistakes. And you too have suffered from the mistakes that were made by others in your life. Some hurt more than others, some lingered longer than others, some just simply don’t go away. Not until a little while ago, some of these mistakes became clear to me to be inherently sin. While contemplating that thought, I ran into a few contradictions regarding what sin is and how it applies to every being.

The first hypothesis I came to was that knowing God is not a prerequisite to be punished for sin. In fact, oftentimes the consequences of sin are self-punishment.
My younger self would often conceptualize “sin” as disobedience. Disobedience that will eventually hurt because of the punishment that follows it. I now would like to think of the concept of sin as a means of protection and not so much as a device to reinforce an authoritarian sovereignty. Although they don’t have to be mutually exclusive to contribute to the conception of sin.
Correspondingly, is sinning an act of disobedience or is it ignorant self harm?

Although I’m reluctant on the idea of hell being the enforcer of the alternative, hell is extreme, and human temptation is great; so great that even Christ himself had to be trialed with.
But the ultimate and most hurtful price of sin is not Hell but the distance from God, which requires one to have a relationship with God in the first place. Does this mean sin won’t hurt if you don’t know God and have nothing to lose?

I don’t suppose so.

This leads me to believe that sin, whether we name it or not, will inevitably hurt. It’s primitive, it’s essential, it’s the universal human condition. Spiritual acknowledgment deepens the understanding of sin rather than being the conditional clause for it to exist. In other words, guilt comes before spirituality. Sin is our unavoidable fall while spirituality is subjected to conditional growth. Everyone will suffer from sin, but not everyone will come to know their sin and thus the divine grace that forgives.

Secondly, one does not have to know sin to suffer from it. Sin, whether we name it or not, is unavoidably damaging. I often wonder if the idea of sin only bothers us due to its negative connotation and notion of guilt. Would sin hurt if we did not acknowledge it?
If idolatry wasn’t a sin, would we feel bad about it?
If envy wasn’t a sin, would we feel bad about it?
If murder wasn’t a sin, would we feel bad about it?
If loving someone was a sin, does that love remain innocent?
If someone committed a sin without knowing about its inherently harmful nature, would it take a toll on their heart?

The order of confession and guilt can go either direction. But the acknowledgement of sin, especially if intrinsic, seems to usually resolve the pain; like a diagnosis that pinpoints the root of the anxiety and takes away the fear of the unknown.

I would like to give the example of the book The Scarlet Letter. Two sinners, Hester and Arthur, committed the same sin but only Hester was tried and persecuted. While Arthur was protected under his upright image, he tortured himself every night in isolation. Hester, after her trial, suffered the shame and pain but also gradually and purposefully was accepted by herself and others. Arthur, on the other hand, was crushed under the weight of fear and regret.
The image of man wrestling with his unconfessed and unnamed guilt has been a theme in philosophy and literature for a long time; Crime and Punishment is another excellent example.

On the other hand, if we wrongfully decide that something was sinful and condemn others for it, we put the Scarlet Letter on where it shouldn’t be. We would stain innocent hearts with cognitive dissonance, hate and shame that they don’t deserve. For instance, say homosexuality was never a sin, it has been deemed as evil for so long that some damages are irreversible. In this case, the only and greatest sin committed was hate, by the very people who profess the love of God.

With that being said, what do we do with this thought?

First of all, I suggest we have mercy with ourselves.
It’s inescapable that we are all touched by sin. But by contemplating this matter, we all can be more thoughtful, compassionate, and graceful as to define and denounce our own sin.
Like Hozier worded in his song “Take Me To Church”:
“There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin
In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene.
Only then I am human, only then I am me.”
Sin is hurtful and devastating but it is our nature, which we still have to live with and grow amidst. To grow, one needs love: “Love is patient, love is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) I encourage you to comfort and accept yourself with grace and patience.

“Remember that God lives through us, the way He does so through others might not be the way He does you. And it’s okay to not understand all of his ways.”

Secondly, have mercy upon others who induced your pain.
“…And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4)
It is difficult to forgive and to love those who hurt us. And I believe you don’t have to subdue your heart to forgive immediately without regard to the devastating damage. That unconditional love is Christ and only Christ. However, I hope it takes off the weight of resentment to keep in mind that the pain of sin is chained to even the most godless being. There will always be a price we all have to pay.

Lastly, be careful who you judge and where you put the “sin” label.
The condemnation of others’ sin to me is one of the least Christ-like things to do.
“…for one without sin cast the first stone”. (John 8:7)
Besides the Ten Commandments, there are so much more of God’s words that can indicate what honors Him and what does not. Before coming to conclusion and protest, please remember that God is sophisticated and so is the way that He works. Remember that God lives through us, the way He does so through others might not be the way He does you. And it’s okay to not understand all of his ways. Don’t ask: “Do you think xyz is a sin?” with a hollow heart. There is one judge and none of us will ever equal Him, so the best we can do to reach Him is to listen carefully and compassionately.

How God Makes Us Stronger

Religion & Faith * Jonah Seiler

Jonah Seiler ’21 is a Physical Education major at Roberts Wesleyan College.

If there is one thing that I want you to get out of reading this, it’s this: whatever struggle or issue or season that you are facing right now has a purpose.

Let me describe a quick analogy for you. Whenever you work out, run, or do any type of exercise you are breaking down your muscles tearing them to the smallest degree. These are called microtears, but with your muscles being broken and torn, they need to be built back up. This happens with the proper nutrition and healing, and with over time your muscles will be repaired and will become stronger than ever before. This is exactly how God builds us up and makes us stronger.

The only way for God to build us up and make us stronger is to sometimes break us down first. If there is one thing that I want you to get out of reading this, it’s this: whatever struggle or issue or season that you are facing right now has a purpose. God would not allow you to go through a rough period if it were not to have you learn something from it and to make you stronger. Our God is a god of wisdom and he does not allow things to happen for no reason, especially when it comes to helping you grow and mature. He has a plan and a purpose for all of this, for you as well. It says in the Bible in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV).

I myself am struggling with a tough season myself. I have a goal in life to be the best person that I can for not only God, but for my future family and wife. I want to be the best version of myself possible and do what I can to lead my family as well as to honor God. I know where some of you may be coming from and it can be a tough, dark place. But I can tell you from my own experience, it starts with putting God first in your life. This semester I have chosen to make God my first priority and do my part to help myself grow. Yes, there have been some bad times, lately. Yes, there have been times where I have said, “I can’t take this anymore” or “Why is this happening to me God?” But because I have chosen to trust in God’s process and know that he has the best interest for me and is with me for the end of time, I have received the strength of God to keep going. And let me tell you, I am starting to see the other side. God has used these past four years of college to make me into the man that he wants me to be and I am forever grateful for him, but there is still more to come.

God is for you, not against you. He wants to see you grow and become stronger.

But don’t just take my word for it, learn this for yourself. I urge you to make a commitment to God to put him first in your life and let everything else follow. When you begin to lean on God when the times get tough, you will see the amazing works of our God whether it is self growth, a family member is healed from sickness, a healing from a tough ending to a relationship, or even a growth in mental health. God is for you and not against you, he wants to see you grow and become stronger. So whenever you enter into a rough season, stay close and cling to God. He will always make a way to get you through it.

What’s in a Name?

Culture by Konstantina Tsoukalas

Konstantina is a Third Culture Kid (TCK) and a Child Of a Deaf Adult (CODA). She is currently a Social Work student with a minor in Theology at Roberts Wesleyan College. Though originally from Rochester, NY, Konstantina grew up as the child of missionaries to the Deaf in South Africa and Zambia. She is passionate about culture, language, travel, helping others see and reach their potential, and biblical missions from a holistic relational philosophy. She is the president of Roberts’ chapter of MuKappa, a community of Third Culture Kids, and is involved in leadership with Roberts’ Global Club.

“Not all immigrants decide the same thing or are fortunate enough to keep their last name.”

Have you ever been introduced to someone with a long name and thought, “I hope they don’t ask me to say it”, “How do you even spell that?”, or “What do I call them if I need to get their attention?” If you have, you’re certainly not alone. Big names can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have one or didn’t grow up around people that do. I was born with a long name. Konstantina is a mouthful for some, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been called by a nickname–Tina–and variations of it. Because of my name (and all the ways it’s been mispronounced), I am hyper-aware of others’ names and make sure I’m pronouncing them correctly.

It’s always been amusing to me, seeing people try to pronounce my name. Not only do I have a long first name, but I also have a long last name to go with it: Tsoukalas. (The Americanized pronunciation sounds something like “sue-call-us”.) One of the funniest things about having a long and uncommon name is the mispronunciations. I’ve heard my last name wrongly pronounced ‘Choo-kalas’, ‘Zoo-kalas’, ‘Tuh-soo-kalas’, and lots more in between. While mispronunciations were amusing for a while, correcting people with “Actually, it’s pronounced Tsoukalas” gets old rather quickly.

When my paternal grandparents emigrated from Greece in the ’50s, they decided to keep their last name. Not all immigrants decide the same thing or are fortunate enough to keep their last name. I have family members who decided to legally shorten their name from Tsoukalas to ‘Kalas’. I also know someone whose family name was changed from the original Greek to the Americanised Andrews at Ellis Island.

Whether or not names are changed, the thought processes that go into that decision all trace back to identity. In my grandparents’ case, the decision not to change our last name was because they wished to retain their Hellenic roots while simultaneously establishing a life in the US. In contrast, a name may be changed to more quickly and seamlessly assimilate to American culture. Because I am the third generation (counting my yiayia and pappou) to live in the United States, and because I do not speak Greek fluently, making use of my full Greek name and ensuring that it’s pronounced correctly is very important to me. I genuinely have no preference for Tina or Konstantina; all I ask is that if Konstantina is chosen, it’s pronounced correctly. Oddly, I have the privilege of having it “both ways”, and since I am American, people don’t think twice about calling me by my long-preferred nickname. Had we not gotten into a conversation about names, some of my friends might not have ever known my full name is Konstantina.

Not everyone with a long or unique name has the privilege of having respect for the preference of a chosen name. Thanks to a brief interview my lovely friend Kate Nguyen agreed to, I have experiences to share with you that come from a different perspective. Kate is originally from Vietnam, and she and I met in the Global Honors Program in our first semester at Roberts. We have some shared experiences in terms of general life experience, the frustrations of being “foreign on campus”, and have similar contributions to and opinions regarding class discussions.

Kate Nguyen

Kate’s full Vietnamese name, in the traditional order, is Nguyen Thi Mai Khue. (Her “first name” in an English context is Khue.) She came to the US for high school after learning English in Vietnam. She settled on the nickname Kate after her non-Vietnamese English teachers encouraged the class to take English nicknames to remember their students’ names easier. Kate continues to be known as and referred to by her English nickname in part for ease of those who need to use her name, but also because Khue is hard for non-Vietnamese speakers to pronounce. English speakers’ attempts to pronounce it can be so inaccurate that Kate has a hard time recognizing when people are trying to get her attention.

Kate has noticed that the people close to her who may (acceptably) call her Khue do so strictly out of respect for her cultural background and, as such, use it in personal conversations. However, Kate has also taken note of some peers (very few) who elect to call her Khue as what can only be described as an “exotic flex”, as if calling her by her Vietnamese name and not by her preferred name somehow elevates them. Professors and coaches have been respectful of Kate’s choice to go by her English nickname. Kate said she does not particularly mind if someone, at first, mispronounces her Vietnamese name. (E.g., a professor calling roll.) She can easily demonstrate the correct pronunciation, then inform them of her preferred name.

What begins to annoy Kate is when people ignore the boundary she has set regarding her name and choose to continue mispronouncing Khue instead of simply calling her by the nickname she goes by. When called Kate, she can avoid any confusion or mistakes regarding her Vietnamese name. There is something funny about people wanting what they’ve been told they cannot have. I allow people to call me by my Greek name if they choose, yet I’ve not yet encountered someone who prefers to call me Konstantina. Kate clarifies to everyone that her Vietnamese name is off-limits, yet some people seem to see that as a challenge to pronounce Khue correctly. Why is this the case?

“An ancient Chinese proverb says, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” Let me introduce myself to you. My name is Konstantina”

I said earlier that the decision to keep or change one’s name traces back to identity. In my case, I grew up a few steps removed from my Greek background, specifically in terms of culture and language. I find that by using Konstantina, I’m able to connect to that part of my family’s history, and that makes me happy. Kate was born and raised in Vietnam. She is not at all removed from her home country in terms of culture or language. Because of the strong connection she has to Vietnam, she doesn’t feel compelled in the same way I do about my Greek name to use her Vietnamese name—and that is entirely valid.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a classroom where a professor calls roll, and every time they get to an international student’s name, they seem to take it as a challenge to see if they remember how to correctly pronounce the student’s ethnic name from their home country. Time and time again, I’ve heard international students say, “No, that’s still not right. Just call me [insert nickname].” No one is obligated to anyone else’s culture. The difference between my choice to go by Tina or Konstantina and Kate’s choice to not go by Khue has to do with this. Just because people can tell that Kate is from Vietnam does not mean she’s obligated to explain pronunciation, language, and culture to them. Just as if you wouldn’t hear my name and expect me to lecture you on Greece.

Names are important. Names represent identity. Kate’s identity doesn’t change when she asks you to call her Kate. My identity doesn’t change when someone decides to call me Konstantina. Respecting the name boundaries people create ought to be a no-brainer. Respecting someone’s name boundary, in turn, shows that you respect them as a person, as well as the culture their name represents.

I encourage people to call me Konstantina (pronounced correctly) because the pronunciation of my family’s name was botched again and again as my grandparents transitioned from Greece to the United States. Pronouncing my full name correctly shows respect for my wishes and culture. Kate asks that people avoid calling her Khue because people pronounce it however they decide to say it instead of pronouncing it correctly. Using Kate’s nickname shows respect for her wishes and culture.

An ancient Chinese proverb says, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” Let me introduce myself to you. My name is Konstantina, and you can call me by that name or by my nickname, Tina. Meet my friend, Kate.

Coffee Shops, As Reviewed By a Tea Drinker

Campus Life * by Elizabeth Potash

Elizabeth, originally from Saratoga Springs, NY, is a sophomore at Roberts Wesleyan College. She is studying Psychology with a minor in History and is serving as VP of the campus ministry BASIC (Brothers And Sisters In Christ). She loves baking, growing closer to Jesus, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and long stares into the void. Psalm 61:2.

“I made the best London Fogs when I was a barista for a few months, and I will not be accepting questions or comments.”

Coffee. Besides being something for which to mock Millennials with (“don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee”), it’s universal. It’s a lowkey thing to do with friends, it connects people, and at this point, it’s a comforting staple of our culture. Feeling FOMO, I have tried to become as addicted as my friends, but the result each time is the same: I just. Can’t. Do it. If you love coffee, I’m so happy for you. On the days when I’m falling asleep in my 10:50 am class, I wish I was like you. Everyone’s different, and unfortunately, I was built with a weak stomach and easily triggered anxiety. My dear friends Tina Tsoukalas and Jessy LeRoy are on a quest to compare every coffee shop/cafe in the Rochester area. They graciously let me tag along, even though they know I will order tea every time—specifically, a London Fog. A perfect London Fog, in my eyes, consists of earl grey tea, steamed milk, and two shots of lavender syrup (some use vanilla, but they’re wrong). I drank one while writing this. So, without further ado, I will share my findings on some of the coffee shops I have given my money to:


NEW ROOTS COFFEEHOUSE, GREECE

Cute shop! So many things are offered, including wine and SpongeBob popsicle bars. While I was there, two men talked loudly about highways and semi-trucks and the like, so it was my ideal atmosphere. London fog was strong, smooth, and had an excellent lavender flavor. 7/10 Fish and Chips.

UNION STREET COFFEEHOUSE, SPENCERPORT

Formerly Café Macchiato, this place had a decent selection and good vibes. There was also a group of older people there who were playing Facebook videos very loudly. The London fog was bold and had a lot of good lavender flavor. 8/10 Downton Abbeys.

LEAF AND BEAN, ROCHESTER

L&B is a classic choice. Good food, intimidatingly cool baristas, shockingly good frozen mango lemonade. The London Fog was pretty standard and could’ve used more lavender. I was disappointed that the smallest option was a medium, as I do not have the bank account of Elon Musk. 5/10 Double Decker busses.

JAVA’S CAFE, ROCHESTER

At Java’s the walls are full of contemporary art.

Being so close to my church (shoutout Grace Road), Java’s has a special place in my heart. Completely hipster and chaotic, the baristas are always on a spectrum of snarky to indifferent, of which I am a fan. One time at Java’s, an artist sketched a picture of me without my permission. It looked nothing like me. The London Fog was very fruity, and I sound like a broken record, but the lavender was seriously lacking. 4.5/10 Boris Johnsons.

PURE IMAGINATION CAFE, ROCHESTER

Oh, Pure Imagination. Sometimes the ones you love hurt you the most. Cute as a button, rockin’ food, but again, Jeff Besos, I am not. Their London Fogs are like a hug in a cup, with strong tea, foamy milk, and almost enough lavender. 9/10 Crumpets.


I think I’ve learned from this journey that it’s not about what you drink but who you drink it with. That being said, I made the best London Fogs when I was a barista for a few months, and I will not be accepting questions or comments. Thank you for your time.

Wild Woman

Music & Arts * by Hännah Bockrath

Hännah Bockrath is a Christian feminist writer and current student at Roberts Wesleyan College studying education and the Spanish language. She is passionate about the idea that pro-women language and stories can empower young girls to pursue leadership in the future, in both the secular world and the Church.

Wild Woman

Don’t try to tell me I am nothing less than fully alive, when I’m dancing wild in the tall grass spoken into being by the same lips that called me daughter.

This is a place I go to reunite body and soul, where who is divine in me can inhale slowly the divine that moves in all things touched by sunlight and shadow.

Here my spirit is close to His, for in the wilderness I grow. 

And don’t try to tell me that I am a prize to be claimed – Can’t you see that I am a living being, a wild woman to be understood, to be forgiven, to be loved?

Why is it that you desire to catch me so, to tame me and make me palatable; to make me make sense?

Seek me and find me, oh but see me.

I’ll tell you that as the seasons change, my body moves as the earth; each month I wax and wane with the moon. We women are intimately aware of how our existence binds us to the natural world, for from us God chose to bring forth life and breath itself.

So listen well, son of Adam, and heed my words: Don’t let my spirit deter you from your race or drive you from our wild in which you have found your purpose. For if you choose to run with me here instead of holding me fast,

You will find yourself set free.


Mental Health, A Conversation

Lifestyle * by Vincent Liberto

Vincent Liberto is the Chief Operations Officer (COO) and co-founder of The JMAK. Vinny specializes in computer science but also discusses faith and productivity with a focus on introspection and self-growth. He is a sophomore at Roberts Wesleyan College.

Always look down the open road

“Realizing mental health isn’t a weakness. When they realize it’s essential to talk about and seek help regarding the mental stress, they’ll seek help and feel better about themselves.”

Anonymous

In today’s society, mental health has been a critical topic amongst all groups. I can’t speak for others but, there has always been a stigma around mental health and men. The typical saying is, “Man up.” However, this can be true in small cases where the issue at hand is small. When a man is afraid to speak about their problems regarding mental health, there is a problem. Now, I’m not asking everyone to be completely open about everything and continuously ask each other about their mental health. What I am asking is to check in on each other occasionally. Be more open to talking to each other about your mental health.

One common aspect of society is the casual, “how’s it going?” We say this as we greet someone or even walk by, always expecting the reply, “good, how are you?” This interaction has been ingrained in us our whole lives; we never expand upon those few words. A reason for being this way could be because we don’t want to unload on someone who we think was being nice to us. Another reason could be we’re worried about what that person would view us as if we told them how we feel. Through trying to figure out why mental health amongst men has been pushed to the side, I interviewed a guest to see their thoughts.

Q: How important is mental health in your life? A: “It is essential for consistency and stability and a sound foundation to make the right decisions. It allows you to experience life freely without a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety.” Q: How do you think society should approach the subject of mental health amongst men? A: “Realizing mental health isn’t a weakness. When they realize it’s essential to talk about and seek help regarding the mental stress, they’ll seek help and feel better about themselves. Mental illness is like any disease; you need to go and get treatment for it.” Q: What steps do you take today towards your mental health? A: “A balance of energy for others, as well as energy for yourself. I think mental health is all about being able to distribute the energy you have in your life equally.”

“When a man is afraid to speak about their problems regarding mental health, there is a problem.“

Find the strength to navigate the vast waves of life.

As society continues to take strides with mental health, men shouldn’t be left behind. A few things to consider as you continue throughout your day; Make it a point to check in on your friends. Talk to each other about more in-depth aspects of life than only how class went and the game the night before. Lastly, put more energy towards self-care and your mental health. As Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Live Every Day

Lifestyle * by Vincent Liberto

Vincent Liberto is the Chief Operations Officer (COO) and co-founder of The JMAK. Vinny specializes in computer science but also discusses faith and productivity with a focus on introspection and self-growth. He is a sophomore at Roberts Wesleyan College.

Capture the memory you’re making.

“I ask everyone to make one incredible memory for themself and/or somebody else.”

Dave Chappelle

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? For most of us, we check our phones to see what notifications have been collecting over the last few hours of sleep. We then get ready to head off to work/class and go on with our days. After work we head home, do whatever needs to get done or relax, then head back to bed to restart that cycle again. This is our routine and we love the comfort that our routine brings us. One aspect of everyone’s day that gets thrown in the background like white noise is life itself. Believe it or not, we take this life we’ve been blessed with for granted. For most of us, unless some traumatic experience happens we rarely take a step back to thank God for blessing us with the life we’ve been given.

Now, I haven’t written this to make you feel bad. But, to give you an insight into the great gift we’ve all been given. I do not subscribe to the thought of living every day as if it’s your last. This can cause many unwise decisions. I live by a thought I think you should all challenge yourselves to live by. A few years ago I was watching a Dave Chappelle comedy special, though Chappelle is one of the funniest people in the world, he said a phrase in this special that changed the way I wanted to live life.

Don’t let the weight on your branches bring you down.

Chappelle said, “I ask everyone to make one incredible memory for themself and/or somebody else.” Fulfill your days with memories you will never forget. It could be something as simple as taking your s/o out for ice cream or having a movie night with your friends. Make an impact on others and be proud of the person you’re becoming. Do so, through God’s grace. Love like Jesus loved, this will rub off on others and positivity will flourish. Trust me, there will be down days. Remember those days and build off them to achieve the happiness and fulfillment that you deserve. Go out and participate in charitable acts, be proud of yourself for helping others. The great part about every day is that you decide to put in that extra effort to make someone’s day. Have a self-care day when you’re tired. Stop pushing off that adventure you want to take with your friends, go out and do it!

Make God a priority in your life. I know the last year was rough to go through. Looking back on it, yes there were a lot of negative things that took place. But, looking at the past and feeling down for what could’ve been, gets you nowhere. Look at the positive results of the last year. Many found out how to teach themselves and learn in ways they would’ve never thought would be achievable. Many other opportunities resulted in missed opportunities. We all think we have this set in stone plan in life. We’ve done everything in our power to make this plan doable, but I’m sorry to inform you, it’s unlikely your plan is going to go the way you think it will. Life would be boring if it did. God has a plan and you can try to go against it all you want but you’ll fail every time. The quote goes, “Let go, and let God.” He knows what’s best much better than you do.

“Make an impact on others and be proud of the person you’re becoming.”

When I was younger, every day before my dad would leave to go teach he would yell to us kids, “This is going to be the best day of your lives!” It’s up to you if you want to make that memory, do that act of kindness, or make the most out of whatever comes your way. Live life with a happy outlook, and don’t let the negative push you off your path to success. God will guide you, all you need to do is hold on.