I still remember when GRIT launched for the first time. It was about midway through my freshman year, at a time where I was desperately seeking language for what I now know to be a culmination of all my experiences as a woman in this world and on this campus. I remember the blueberry donuts, the GRIT pins and glitter stars, but the thing most permanently seared in my memory is the feminine energy that filled the Collegium, seeming to build and swell like the inside of a pressure cooker.

I remember looking up at the women who had created this “thing”, more than likely from sweat and sheer will power, and feeling a sort of awe. Awe at the raw creativity and power they seemed to possess. I remember simultaneously feeling emboldened by the energy they radiated, and having still a small part of me thinks that they were untouchable, that I could never dream to be part of such a thing at Biola.

Fast forward three years, and not without a lot of painstaking growth, prayers, and several conquered mind-battles later, here I sit. Still in process, ever learning, but gifted with the opportunity to write a small token of encouragement to the women of Biola as they begin a new chapter, a new year, a new beginning. In many ways, this feels as if I have come full circle. In these moments, I wonder if those women felt a bit of the inadequacy much like I felt that day, and still sometimes do now. I wonder if they had any inkling of what the mere presence of GRIT at Biola would mean to women like me, or could have dreamed for it to expand as it has. What I do want to tell you is that the vision has stayed the same.

Biola, like any school, and it’s community members, like any group of people seeking to follow Jesus, is imperfect. We do not always act in a way that allows people to step outside our own preconceived notion of what a Christian is “supposed” to look like. We don’t always cultivate a culture that releases them to enter into the fullness of who God designed them to be. We do not always love as well as we are called to. Your experience here will more than likely reflect that imperfection, and the ups and downs that come with it. To tell you or pretend otherwise would be a disservice to that experience. 

But what I do want to say to you is that there is space for you here. Just as the everchanging project of GRIT created a tangible space for me to be in process three years ago, we commit to do the same for you today. There is space here for you to be all that you are; loud and soft, messy and powerful. My hope for you, sweet friend, is that you take advantage of that space. 

Our desire is that the women of Biola would see the mountains ahead of them, muster the God-given G.R.I.T. that is already within them, and start climbing. I hope that this year at Biola doesn’t ensnare you into the cycle of just making friends and passing your classes. These things will come too, as they follow the year’s natural progression. I hope you don’t become so caught up in the busyness that you forget to be present. That you are able to explore all the opportunities set out before you, and pave your own path when you don’t seem to find one that suits your journey. I hope that you chase after that dream internship, fall in love with the dynamic of your female friendships, and put in the work that your inner self so desperately craves and is deserving of. Most of all, I hope you discover passions that set your skin and belly on fire, that consume you and spur you on into becoming all that the Lord has intended you to be. 

So whether you are entering your first semester of college, or the last “first day of school” you will ever experience, I hope you are able to grab this metaphorical bull-of-a-year by the horns. I want to empower you that it can and will be what you make of it. This time, this year, this fresh start, (and every day that follows) is completely yours for the taking. Go get it, and know that we are behind and for you as you do.