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Making Friends in College: 3 Misconceptions

Written By Hannah Spaulding, USA

In a culture obsessed with romantic relationships, the value of genuine friendship often goes unrecognized. However, God created us not just for romantic relationships, but also to have fulfilling friendships. There are many examples in the Bible of great friendships—such as between Jonathan and David, and Jesus and the disciples—that show friendship is important to our Creator.

Yet as we grow older, friendships don’t seem to come as easy as they did when we were children. Making new friends can be a daunting task, especially when entering a new situation, such as a college or working environment. For example, last summer, as my freshman year of college was approaching, I began to feel increasingly anxious about making new friends.

At the small, public high school I attended, my core group of friends were non-believers. Please don’t get me wrong, they are great people, and I love them dearly. Throughout our years together, they taught me much about what it means to love people who think and act differently from myself, and to this day I am thankful for my continued friendships with some of them. As college approached, however, it was my desire to find friends who could encourage me spiritually and walk alongside me in Christ.

Transitioning to college was probably the hardest thing I had done so far in my 19 years of life. Moving to a different state where I didn’t know anyone and would be hours away from my family was a frightening thought—making my desire to find good friendships even stronger. It was definitely challenging at the beginning; there were many days filled with loneliness, and several moments of tears and anguish.

I started a new job to fill some of the empty hours, and I tried to avoid being alone as much as possible. Those moments of feeling alone and missing my family also drove me to be intentional about meeting people and making new friends. I realized that I couldn’t let the difficulties of the transition to college overwhelm me, and that I needed to actively pursue those friendships that I so desired.

However, the friendships I ended up with turned out to be much different than I expected. Sure, God did provide me with good friendships. But looking back on my freshman year, I realize that I had gone to school with several misconceptions about what making friends in college would be like.

 

Misconception #1: I won’t make any friends in college.

This was my biggest worry as I prepared to leave for college, and probably the worry most frequently discussed at freshman orientation. Like many of my fellow freshmen, I was fearful of either not making friends, or of not finding like-minded friends that I could share my struggles with.

I am here to say, however, that you will make friends in college. The process will take time, and some friends may come and go, but ultimately you will find friends who will walk alongside you during this phase of your life. Some may even become lifelong companions.

 

Misconception #2: l will only make friends with people who have the same interests as me.

In my first semester of college, I chose to take a science class revolving around dune research to satisfy a core science requirement. Through this class, I met three of my closest college friends. Ironically, none of us were geography or geology majors, but through trekking up and down the dunes each week, we formed a close friendship. I also met another of my closest college friends in a Latin class that I took as an elective. Though we all shared the same faith, we all had different majors, and even different interests. But God in his infinite wisdom brought us together using circumstances we wouldn’t have thought would lead to friendship.

Of course, I did make friends within my major and areas of interest, but what I learned through these experiences is that friendship can come from any situation. The key is being willing to join new communities and try new things.

Misconception #3: My college friendships will look exactly as I imagine them.

Your college friendships probably will not look exactly as you imagined they would. You might not be best friends with your roommate, or you might find friendship in unexpected places, such as a dune research class.

You might not even find your closest friendships in the college setting. While in college, your close friends might come from an off-campus job, or a local church in your area. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is that there is no cookie-cutter for the college experience.

 

The college phase of life is a time of self-discovery and possibility. Instead of being a source of anxiety, making new friends can be a great opportunity. When I reflect on my first year of college, the friends I made and the adventures we had together are the sweetest and most treasured of all my memories. Though transitioning to college was difficult, in the end, it was a rewarding experience precisely because of what I was initially so worried about—making friends.

When My Best Friend Told Me Off

Written By Debra Valley, Nigeria

I remember the day vividly. I was sitting in my brother’s room, cooling off after an argument with my best friend. I’ll never forget what my best friend said to me. She certainly hadn’t spared my feelings: the gist of her words had to do with me acting like a spoilt, selfish brat.

I was smarting badly and my first thought was to exact revenge in some way, or to just ignore what she had just said. But, like in several other times in the past, I took deep breaths to calm down, evaluated what she said, and reminded myself of this Bible verse: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. And the wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:5-6).

Even though I was upset with the way my friend had delivered her opinion, I knew her words had some truth in them. So I swallowed my pride and took the initiative to greet her when she walked past my brother’s bedroom to the adjacent room we shared. You see, my best friend was—and still is—my sister.

My attempt at reconciliation stopped my sister mid-stride. She redirected her steps and walked towards me. What she said next struck me—till this day. She said: “I admire you for one great quality you have. No matter what and how someone points out something wrong about you, and no matter how you act in the heat of the moment, you always listen, sift through the words and accept correction. You are also always willing and often the first to make peace and reconcile after a fight. Those are godly character traits you should never lose.”

She may not know how much those words impacted me that day, but what she said to me then always comes to mind whenever I find myself in a situation where a friend or even an enemy rebukes or criticizes me. Whenever someone finds fault with my behavior, I will retreat to a quiet place and ask for the Holy Spirit’s counsel, comfort, and advice.

Sometimes, verses will spring to mind, pointing to the fact that I do indeed need to accept correction. Other times, it becomes clear that the rebuke or criticism—though well intentioned—was unfounded. For instance, Job’s friends believed they were giving righteous criticism of their friend Job, only to be rebuked by God in Job 42:7-17. Therefore, I will always go to God to check if the rebuke is indeed from Him.

As a leader, writer, but most importantly, as a Christian, I have grown to embrace rebuke and criticism. Constructive criticism—and sometimes, not so constructive criticism from true friends—helps us grow and keeps us on the right track. I also believe it is essential if we want to become better individuals in all areas of our lives. After all, the Bible states in Psalm 141:5: “Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it”.

True friends will call us out; they won’t always be our cheerleaders. A person who really loves us and wants the best for us will let us know when we are taking the wrong path, because they want what’s best for us.

In my walk as a Christian, I have been blessed to have instances where I have been rebuked by genuine friends, whom the Bible describes as those who stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Ultimately, I believe that rebuke from God—whether it is through His word or others, such as our friends—should be welcomed and celebrated. In Revelation 3:19, the Bible states that “as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”.

Will we be willing to be pruned so that we bear the best fruit?

Love One Another

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“Above all, love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8)

We all have those people in our life that are “difficult to love”. For some reason or another, the “feeling” of love doesn’t come easily. It may be character issues, temperament, or things the other person has done to us. If we’re honest, we’ve all been on both sides of this situation. I know for a fact there have been times in our marriage that it was difficult for Laura to love me. Thankfully though, her love for me is rooted in something much deeper than feeling.

According to Peter, loving each other is essential to our walk with God. Above everything else, we are called to “maintain an intense love for each other”. This emphasis on love echoes many other verses in the Bible, including the well-known 1 Corinthians 13. In fact, the bible goes so far to say that love must be the basis of all our acts of service. For without it, it will profit no one.

The word “love” in these verses is translated in the greek as “agape”. When the Bible says that “God is love”, this is the definition being used. This is not a love that comes naturally to us (like family, friendship, or romantic loves). Agape love has divine origin. It is unmerited, unconditional and redemptive. It seeks nothing in return.

This is the same love we received from God himself (John 3:16). As we receive this love from God, we are filled to show the same love to others. Peter goes on to say that this type of love “covers over a multitude of sins”. It is love that has the ability to redeem and restore. It’s not easy (we always prefer to love when it “feels natural”)—but this type of love is what matters most.

So as we ponder what it means to love each other, may we consider first God’s incredible agape love for us. May His love motivate us to love others without seeking anything in return. May this type of love strengthen our marriages, families and friendships. And may we pursue this love more than anything else. For we know that in the end, ‘the only thing that matters.. is faith expressing itself through (agape) love.” (Galatians 5:6)

Contributed by Jason Van Dyke, God’s Fingerprints

When I Think of My Successful Friends

Written By Lily Lin, China, originally in Simplified Chinese

Since young, I’ve had the privilege of having friends with brilliant minds who went on to achieve enviable success in school and at work. Many of them graduated from prestigious schools and are now holding well-paying positions as computer engineers, doctors, lawyers, judges, and financial experts. Some even went on to do their doctorates at well-known institutions and are now doing research or teaching at leading universities.

When I think of them, I notice that they have one thing in common: every single one of them is earnest, diligent, disciplined, and persevering. They are living proof of what inspirational author Jim Rohn once said: “Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.” It has been a tremendous blessing to have such talented friends at each stage of my life.

Whenever I am discouraged or tempted to be lazy in my work or ministry, the example of these friends spurs me on. They also remind me of the Apostle Paul, a man who was totally dedicated to the gospel and who used whatever he had to spread the Word of Christ and bring people to the Lord (Colossians 1:28-29).

Of course we must remember and recognize that each of us has different talents, went through different education paths, and grew up in different environments. This means that even if all of us put in the same amount of effort, some people will achieve greater success than others. If we focus only on the benefits of success, we could become bitter that we do not enjoy the same talents and resources as these people do, and become envious of their success. But if we view each person’s talents and resources as gifts entrusted to them and understand that success is not tied to individual happiness, our response will change entirely.

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25), Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a man who divides his property among his servants to manage, according to their abilities, before going on a journey. One servant gets five talents, another gets two, and a third gets one. The first two faithfully exercise their abilities and earn an extra five and two talents respectively, while the third doesn’t earn anything. What’s interesting is that although the two first servants get different amounts, the master’s response to both of them are exactly the same: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, 23)

Everything we possess is given by God, and one day, we must account to Him about how we use what we have been given. So we need to use our resources wisely and make the most of our talents, so that we might share what we have with others for the glory of God. How clever we are or how much we have is not important, and neither is the kind of success we achieve in the end.

As Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” I hope and pray that each of us can achieve the kind of success God desires for us on life’s stage.

 

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