01/08/2012 08:27 am ET Updated Mar 09, 2012

Pack Your Bags

As I prepared to move into the University of Southern California this past week, I went through a number of activities and responsibilities so that everything would be taken care of before I start school. The most taxing and fascinating process that occurred was the packing of the materials I needed for my apartment. Many people use the new year as a time to start afresh, and begin new journeys in their lives. Some people become so focused on where they are going that they forget to take necessary items and pieces of their past with them. It would have been foolish of me to just "move in" and not carry any useful materials with me to my new space. Yes there are aspects of our past that we should never return to, but there are certain things that we need to carry with us, so that we can use them to propel us forward as we make new journeys in life.

One of the first things I set out to gather was my wardrobe. I had to decide how I wanted to look, and which articles of clothing I needed to take to look a certain way. I have learned that relationships are very important whenever one starts a new goal or journey, and your appearance will be the key to opening certain relationships. Yes it is important to dress well, but appearance has more to do with persona, and the type of energy one gives off around others. Put on your jacket of kindness. Gird your loins with confidence. Put on your hat of optimism. Walk in shoes of determination, and you will shine as you move into a new place on your journey.

I noticed that when I went to move in, we took everything in boxes, not bags. Perhaps the most important thing to remember, is that we should carry the lessons we learned from the past, not the baggage. We have to carry those experiences, and the knowledge about life and ourselves that we gained from them. We should not however, hold on to the bad feelings that those experiences caused. Baggage causes clutter, and feelings like regret, bitterness, depression, unforgiveness, guilt, worry, and fear are all things that can clutter our life, our mind, and our vision.

Along with clothes, another important step was gathering cleaning materials for my room and bathroom. We gathered cleaning materials with the knowledge that any place that is being occupied WILL get dirty sometimes. We have to start new journeys knowing that because we are human, we are going to make mistakes. We are going to procrastinate, and lose some of the drive we started out with. We are going to sometimes become discourage and give up or lash out, so keep in mind that every so often we will need a "clean up" to get our goals, our minds, our attitudes, and our spirits back on track.

The greatest part of my experience, however, is that even though I will encounter struggles, hardships, an empty refrigerator sometimes, and low balance on the debit card, I'm only 20 minutes from home (and with the way my mother drives, you can cut that time in half). So my final words regarding taking new steps in life are these: Stay close to home. In all of life, there needs to be some person, some place, or some entity that you can call home. Home can be a lifetime friend, or your church, or school choir, or a building around the corner from where you grew up. No matter what home is for you, stay close to it. Life may take us far away in distance, but you control how close you are to home mentally and spiritually. Call loved ones, hold the words of those who are dear to you close to your heart, always keep home in your mind, and keep it as a point of stability in your life, as your circumstances change day to day. Above all things, the God we serve is always a home for us. I enjoy serving a God who wraps me in his arms, and ensures me that He will never fail me, because He loves me too much. He said in Matthew 28:20 "lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

As you are embarking on a new journey this year in your life, put on a strong face, stay determined, and trust the God who has all power. Pack your bags, and start your journey, knowing that it will all be worth it when you reach the finish line.