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In the past 36 months, I’ve written about many things, some very silly, some very serious.

My ultimate goal as opinions editor was to ask questions. What do you practice? Do you need to change your name? What sort of legacy do you want to leave? And most importantly, does Spring Sing matter? I rarely had definitive answers to these questions, but if I prompted even one reader to ponder something they never would have otherwise, my mission is accomplished.

I’ve seen history, I’ve seen heartbreak and (at the risk of sounding clichéd) I’ve laughed and I’ve cried. Asking these questions has stretched me, worked my critical thinking like a muscle, and I have come out the other side stronger and more analytical.

Some friends encouraged me to offer a few parting words of advice, to which I responded, “One must be wise in order to impart wisdom.” I am the sum total of everyone I’ve ever met, for better or worse, and everything I know, I learned from others. Thus, allow me to share with you a few things I’ve learned from people much smarter than I.

First, film genius Charlie Chapin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Smiling and laughing have a positive effect on our well-being, but as we make the transition from child to adult, we tend to lose the habit of indulging in these behaviors. A classic example of this is a playground: I often see kids running around, living in the moment, beaming ear to ear, while parents sit around the edge with serious faces. We can benefit from following the kids’ example, making more room in life for laughter.

Nehemiah does not say the solemnity of the Lord is our strength, or the seriousness or strictness of the Lord is our strength — he says the joy of the Lord is our strength. Smile. Relax. Bask in God’s creation. Never forget to let go and have a good laugh.

Next, author Oscar Wilde said, “Life is too important to take seriously.” I love this saying because it sounds very blasé and undercuts pretentiousness, but when you think about it, Wilde has a point. Oftentimes, we focus so much on a single project or event, we completely forget to enjoy God’s daily delights. Life is an incredible gift — taking it too seriously can squeeze the happiness out of it.

Jesus himself echoes this sort of sentiment: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Don’t get so caught up in the minutia of living that you forget your greater purpose.

Finally, artist Salvador Dali said, “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” We humans are directional beings; we run on momentum. We never stay where we are, so we are either progressing or devolving. Find something you want to aspire toward. Hone your passion and choose a role model who has set a foundation for you to walk upon.

The apostle Paul frequently instructs his readers to aspire toward Christ-like behavior, and my favorite comes from Philippians: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” He’s saying there is already an example for perfect behavior, and his name is Jesus. Follow his example, and seek to imitate him in everything you do.

Now a few stray thoughts of my own: Take a breath. You have been given an incredible gift of life, and you need to realize you have a Maker. You did not get here on your own. You are not alone, either — you have seven billion neighbors, and it is your duty to live alongside them with open arms.

Here, I would like to publicly thank the staff members of Oklahoma Christian University who greeted me with open arms and truly made me feel at home: Michael Mitchell, Risa Forrester, Jim Baird, Scott LaMascus, Ben Langford, Tina Ware, John Maple, Brian Simmons, Willie Steele and, of course, the incomparable John deSteiguer.

My time at Oklahoma Christian has not been free of hardships and valleys — the brighter the sun, the darker the shadows. Regardless, I will cherish every memory I gathered in this place, and the friendships forged will not be easily broken.

For those I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, thank you for the memories, and I hope I have given you some to hold on to as well.

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