Today is the day when many people move to new apartments and the college students start to trickle in to my small hometown of Lawrence Kansas. All but a handful wont show up until later, but as the day where people move into new leases, the coming school year is in the air and the thought of another year of college is lazily gnawing at everyone’s nerves. As a senior this year, I want to take a moment to discuss the role of my friends.
In the three years I have been at KU, I have made friends in various circles, few of which have endured with me until today, but many of whom I befriended in their season. In college, you go through various iterations of yourself, but even then, some friends have stood the test of time and evolved along with me. When I was much younger and freshly to college, I saw friends in a very different light than I do now, and I needed others a lot more. As I have grown in the faith and started to come close to what I most care about, it has become a lot easier to hold loosely.
Your friends will rub off on you, but they aren’t part of you. I am grateful I have a savior in God, because that devotion has a rightful home. I have been one to let others hurt me because I thought it was necessary to keep them around. The fuller my faith has become, the more grateful I am for the people who invest in my life and don’t take so much.
We are all trying to draw near to sources of identity in college, but the healthiest people are those who mean what they say and don’t extort their own truth out of others. I have been a hypocrite im this, I admit. But good friendship doesn’t demand or insist or resent, it seeks to care in parallel ways to what you are able to see in yourself, and it does it’s best to love like Jesus. Not everyone who loves like Jesus identifies as Christian, but those who act in a love like his Spirit are a blessing to keep in your life. They encourage you and you weave encouragement in them, and that familial love is like a tied rope that crosses in mutual loving support. You don’t pay everything in to others to feel meaningful, your value is set and you reinforce one another’s best selves through compassion. You don’t have to sell part of who you are. You are able to be honest with others who appreciate it.
All too often, I see young adults and students sell away part of the beauty that God gave them just to have company. I don’t think that is good. In genuine churches and people, you can find good company who loves you just as you are. Feeling the need to sell yourself and exact the same from others doesn’t just hurt you, it sets a pattern and expectation that young people don’t know what they want and aren’t invested in their own lives. Some of that is true, but most of it is stigma and the fact that we’ve only been alive so long. I hope that the ones I care about and those who will come after me would be strengthened instead of depleted by how I love. I dont want to lay down a pattern that exacts payment to feel accepted, and by no means was that what Christ was about.