Lately, as I approach my senior year of high school, I have been wrestling with myself about where I want to go to college and what I plan on doing with my life from there. After chasing my tail in circles and going back and forth between excitement and anxiety, I came to have only one feeling towards the whole idea of figuring everything out: apathy. Am I supposed to be excited when I don’t even know what I really want? How can I be expected to plan for my future life when I don’t even know who I am right now?
A few weeks ago at Win Our World Urban Ministry in Knoxville, TN, I got a thorough, uninterrupted, week-long opportunity to reflect on my life throughout the last couple of years and the things that got me to be where I am today – the unsettling changes, the new relationships and bonds that have been formed, the difficult goodbyes, the decisions I had to make that forced me to grow up a little more, everything. It’s funny how in daily life, nothing seems to change, but suddenly you can look back and realize that everything is different than it used to be, isn’t it? That realization alone was enough to prove that I needed to do some serious “soul searching”. Self-discovery was in order. With that in mind, I decided that through reflecting on myself currently, my life and how it has changed me, and who I want to become, I could make more sense of my calling.
The theme of the week was “#MyOneWord”, and we were challenged to think of a word by the end of the week that we believed described ourselves – as whole individuals, but also as the pieces that come together to build the body of Christ. This task was not an easy one for me, as I have been struggling to figure myself out. Is there really one word that can describe all of who I am? I sought the opinions of my mother and my friends immediately.
A frantic text message I sent to four people reading: “If you could describe me completely with one word, me as a person, what would that word be? Maybe my best personality trait or a quality that sticks out; what word would you use?” The answers I got back varied based on the relationship I shared with each person, but they gave me an idea of what my “one word” could be – genuine, loyal, trustworthy, compassionate, and witty.
I searched definitions of each word on the internet, and by the end of the week, I came to the conclusion that the word that fit me best was “compassionate”, especially after a humbling week of serving others. At the sending worship service, each person received an affirmation in the form of puzzle pieces, with each piece having one word written on them anonymously by the staff and leaders of the program that they thought described us as individuals. With eager curiosity, I looked at my pieces to see what people (that had known me for as little as five days) had to say about who they believe I am. A few of the words were “sincere, faithful, strong, loving, generous, encouraging, and pastor’s-heart”. All those words that I would never have the courage to use to describe myself – words that others believed built who I am as an individual, as a child of God, as a contribution to the world – caused me to rethink the word I chose for “#MyOneWord”. Yes, I am compassionate. However, it wasn’t until then that I realized that I am all of those other words, and many more, as well.
I began my week in Knoxville confused, unsure, and apathetic. I began my week afraid of what my future holds and bitter towards the unwanted changes in my past. During my week, I opened my eyes. I am compassionate. I am bright. I am loving. I am a leader. I am faithful, inclusive, friendly, mighty, inspiring, generous, outgoing, and encouraging. I ended my week still undecided about where I will be going in life and how I’m going to get there. However, I also ended my week a little more at peace with my past, not as afraid of what my future holds, and with the knowledge of who I am in Christ and how that shines through to others. With that in mind, my one word changed. I am all of the words on that affirmation puzzle, I am trustworthy, I am genuine, I am witty, I am compassionate, and because of all of those things, I am ready; ready for the future, ready to learn from my past, and ready to be who I am called to be. I am “#ready”.