I was given so much advice going into college about making friends. “It will happen it just takes time” “it could be some random person in the cafeteria” “friendships from the first six weeks of college don’t always last” and countless more. But going to a college five hours from home and not knowing a soul I wanted to throw all that advice out the window and jump to the having friends part. So that’s exactly what I did.
Going to college you meet so many new people. Maybe your roommate is someone you’ve never met or you become friends with the person you sit next to in class, or maybe you find family in a campus organization. For me, I made friends with the girl who lived next door to me. I made friends (sorta) with my roommate. I made friends with a girl in the next building. I made family with people in the Baptist Student Union and I made friends with people in Sigma Phi Lambda.
But see usually I am pretty good at figuring people out. I can typically determine if someone is really worth being friends with or not. But not this time. I so desperately wanted to have friends so I wouldn’t be alone that I think I threw out all the red flags saying “STOP this person is toxic!”
The girl next door and my roommate both had the blaring red flags. I think I was so desperate to live my own life that I never really turned to God for these “friendships.” They would mock me and insult me to a point where being around them became toxic to my relationship with God.
In Ecclesiastes 4, verses 9 and 10 state this: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Here the author, most likely Solomon, is talking about friendship. The first part talking about a friendship that is building one another up. The second part a false friendship that is letting each other fall and suffer.
As much as I tried being a friend to these girls they never could lift me up or help me if I fell. It took me almost a year to fully see those red flags. I tried to share my faith with both of them. They wanted nothing to do with it. I tried to share small parts of my day. They had more important things. I tried to be open about who I am and what I value. They twisted it to fit their narratives. Many other things happened between us but it wasn’t until I was able to set aside the thoughts Satan had planted and firmly reset my feet with Jesus that I found my true friends.
The Baptist Student Union has given me friendships that will last a lifetime because when I fall, I know I count on any of them to be right there helping me back up. They have truly become a family of believers that make me stronger. Currently one of the ways they are making me stronger is through forgiveness.
God started talking to me with Philipians 4:6, that says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.” He was saying come to him even in my anxiousness and he will calm the storm stirring. I would get so anxious about seeing my former roommates that my plans would have to change just so I wouldn’t bump into them. I was tired of having to hide so I decided that I no longer wanted to feel this way and that I wanted to be able to forgive them.
I’ve had so many God filled conversations with my friends about how to forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it and each time the answer is God. The only way in life that we are able to make it through is with God right there at our side. I have held so much hate towards these two people for too long and with the help and advice from friends that are like family and the open line of communication with God, I am starting to be able to forgive them. I have even been praying for them.
Matthew 5:43-48 speaks about love for enemies. Verse 43 and 44 say “ you have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” God treats righteous and unrighteous people the same and he wants us to do so as well. We are to show mercy to those who are our enemies just as he has shown mercy to us. So I am making a conscious effort with God by my side to choose kindness and prayer for my enemies.