It’s a lot easier to watch your social network evolve at the end of college if you have spent time caring for people who you’d like to see again.
I starting this last year of school scared at various intervals of how hard leaving would be, and very tempted to withdraw from friends completely. Though it’s bittersweet, I’ve made the best friends of college these last four years, and even if I can’t stay in perfect community with everyone, I really care about them.
Instead of proximity, relationship quality should be our highest goal. If I can’t see me loved ones often, it helps to enjoy their company when I have it. It’s even better that most of my friends are Christians from various walks of life. I find a lot of peace in knowing I’ll see many people in Heaven.
At my school, it’s really hard to feel like you belong. With 20,000 students that mostly don’t mingle well, it’s really hard to feel like you have a hive of people who also encourage you to meet your goals. It can be easy to use drinking as a way to have an instant sense of community, but those feelings are fake. I invested in a lot of positive experiences this semester: singing in a gospel choir, helping my friend establish an Asian Christian Fellowship group, working with my Church’s college group, working with the elementary school kiddos at Sunday school, working with Justice Matters (to lobby my hometown leadership about social justice related to Mental health, Childhood Trauma, and housing) and working with the leaders at Intervarsity campus ministry. I regret nothing. I was definitely over-committed during the busiest two weeks of the semester, but through careful planning and the grace, we made it work. I felt tired sometimes, and had to choose to rest. This isn’t me listing out all my involvements to get some inflated vanity over everything I did. More important than self-inflation, I’m putting this list here so that anybody who wonders if they can really learn from God during a small time frame and actually enjoy the brief amount of time you have in [insert situation] can understand that time isn’t your barrier. Your barrier is fear.
Are you willing to cut your losses if you’re still afraid to let go? The goal for most beautiful seasons of life is to love in such a way that you have peace when you have to up and leave. It gets easier with practice. If you only have a few hours with people you’ll never meet again, can you care about them? It’s so much easier to let your fear go. There will always be people who are willing to accept you. Instead of radical self-isolation, why don’t we run in the direction of radical, temporary love? It’s easy to do in Christian contexts where there is already good community. Having this sense of brother(sister)hood and unity can follow you nearly wherever you go.
Some people I won’t ever see again in the flesh. Some people I may see kindly in passing. Sometimes, those interactions will become more shallow. But when you spend time loving people with a full, genuine love, odds are, those relationships are like opening a time capsule when you see that person later in life. Not a mistake, but a blessing. Not just sorrow, but “Praise God!” I’m afraid of nothing. I will move through life looking for people to love.
May transition not be a death sentence to we who are in the Lord. Let transition come like freedom. Jump and know that even in suffering, he will not let you fall. The Lord is God. All the time.
To be honest, I’ve heard people talking about this, but I used to not be old enough to appreciate it. That’s okay. I had to learn what was fair and what in relationships was healthy, and then set and seek better habits. I had to spend time with people who were different from myself, and allow both parties to grow. I had to spend time be bold and learning to sacrifice (often because of God). It takes a while to learn all these different things, and to get them in balance.
We all die without having enough time. Time is like money: the more you have, the less that you’ll consider”enough”. My biggest currency is time: it’s how I interpret belonging, care, consistency, and consider grounds for trust. Time is commitment. If I don’t have much to give, am I good enough? If I really can’t devote my time to anything (anyone), is that really fair?
With better friends come people who are just grateful when you don’t have a lot to give. Whether in money, in time, in compassion, in listening, there are people out there who are just grateful to have a friend who is present. I don’t have much money, I have a chunk of time (but not buckets), I can listen, and I can do my best to be a friend. For some people, that’s legitimately good enough. And it’s a lot easier to live free. That disposition and grateful acceptance tends to have a freeing effect on others. People give more freely, even when they don’t have a lot.
I’m grateful and somewhat embittered to have to make new friends. I know it will be good. But I must admit, there is some sadness. That doesn’t mean the scraps of sadness I have aren’t worth the risk. It’s better than the bitter despair and loneliness of never having made an effort.
So I urge you: be generous with your time and your ego, even if you only have a little amount to spare. It works out for the best if you love in a way that causes you to sacrifice. Ultimately, that love is a better testimony of Christ’s love. Learning to sacrifice is important. Not all love is created equal.