So this week, I'm starting this post, not really sure where it's going to go. I have a few things in my head that I definitely want to talk about but the journey to those points is a little foggy. Those are the fun parts of writing and listening to the voice of God. You never know where it's going to lead and when its finished, looking back is so amazing. So here goes nothing.
One of the most valuable and most difficult parts about college is the relationships you make while you are there. Some of them are lifelong friendships and some are just for a season. I've done this whole relationship thing both right and very, very wrong. I've learned a lot in both seasons and even now, I'm still learning.
I think the main reason why I didn't know how to start this or what to say is because this is such a messy topic. Feelings are involved and other people with raw emotions are very real. I can't just hide behind a screen and type some malarky without considering you, the other person on the other side of this screen.
I've avoided this topic because I thought I was okay after some of the mess that happened. When I sat down to write, I realized that there were still very big, very raw parts of my heart that hadn't fully healed and I had just been suppressing.
But we're not going to get alllllllll into that today and probably not ever. You don't need to know the details and I'm in no position to discuss them.
Going off to college presents itself with so many challenges but one of the main challenges that seems to dwell at the forefront of every upcoming freshman's mind is making friends.
As a college grad, I am here to tell you that you will most definitely NOT keep every single friend you met your first month in college. That is a fact, not an opinion. I can count on one hand the amount of people I still talk to from freshman year. One hand.
With all of that in mind, here are a few lessons I learned about relationships/friendships in college:
1. Choose prayerfully. If you feel like its wrong, it is.
Your first week after you've moved in and gotten settled will be full of activities where you can mingle and meet people from all over your campus. Go to as many of them as you can. One valuable lesson I learned is this: Don't keep yourself tethered to one group to go to all of these events. Go to some on your own. If you go with a group of people, you'll likely only meet people like the group. Meet different people from different major and different walks of life. Get numbers, go grab coffee, get dinner, go to movies, etc.
Then, when you are alone with Jesus, ask Him to show you those friendship that He wants you to hold on to. Looking back, I can see where the Lord was definitely telling me to re-evaluate those I let close to me early on but I ignored Him. I was afraid to be alone and friendless. I was still trying to figure out who I was and wanted people to surround me to distract me from "self-doubt." But eventually, everything went sour very quickly and I was alone. I hadn't branched out that first week and stuck to the same group. I could literally count on one hand the number of people who would eat a meal with me. It wasn't because I was unpleasant but because I was too shy and too quiet and all too willing to be exclusive to group.
2. Be yourself.
You might be thinking "Duh. I've heard this since I was little." However, I can't stress this one enough. Literally, y'all, be yourself in ALL situations. I've seen even the most confident people compromise who they are for friendships in college. If you have to modify your personality to be accepted by one person or a group of people, IT ISN'T WORTH IT. If you're not yourself from the beginning and you try to become who they want you to be, you'll never measure up. You'll fall short every time and you'll be reminded just how short you're falling.
But guess what? That's not how we are to allow ourselves to be treated. If the King of Kings and Lord of Lords does not hold your mistakes and shortcomings over your head, then how come you allow another sinful human being do that to you? You shouldn't. Don't. Walk away.
It is also a huge blessing to find like-minded people. This may take some time and patience and may require some tough decisions but it is worth it. Go to those campus ministry groups and grab coffee with a couple people from those groups. Look, I have friends from outside my campus ministry group but my forever friends have come from the people I met doing ministry things. I'm not at all saying that you shouldn't be friends with people who are unbelievers. Building close friendships with those that don't follow Jesus is the perfect way to share the love of Jesus. However, when it comes to sharing the issues that are burdening your heart and places where Jesus is working on you, you're going to want some prayer warriors in your corner.
3. Find people who love you for you and hang on to them.
While we're talking about about being yourself, it's important to address this issue. #2 and #3 usually goes hand in hand. People who don't accept you as you are and still wanting to hang on to your friendship usually want to be friends with you because of something you can do for them or give them. It may seem cold to say but it's true.
When you meet someone who says, "I just want to be your friend," you know you've got a good one. One of my forever friends I met my junior year said that the first time we got coffee. That was the first time someone had ever said that to me and I was blown away but her intentionality when it came to us getting together and doing life with me.
Just to brag on her a little because the Lord brought her into my life at such the perfect time it's not even funny. I got to know her before she met her now husband and watch her graduate, start grad school, and become the best nurse in the world.
Friends who just want to be your friend are forever friends.
4. It may not last forever and that's okay.
This was one of the most difficult lessons I learned during college. Sometimes, people are brought into your life for a season. During a particular time of transition, I was reading through Ecclesiastes and there several verses of that encouraged me and challenged me a lot. I could talk a lot about this point but I'm going step back and let Jesus do all the talking here.
"Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work;
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not easily broken."
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
We were meant for community. We were meant to build relationships with one another. Here comes the one that kicks me in the gut.
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in it's time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
There is a time for everything and sometimes we don't know what the Lord is doing. We can't see the bigger picture as we're going through it but on the other side, we can see God's hand through it all.
I could very easily spend the rest of my life kicking myself for how I handled certain friendships for two years. But remember what we said earlier? God doesn't hold my mistakes over my head, neither should I. In the moment, I couldn't see what God was doing and wanted to leave Campbell. I was done. But these verses encouraged me and just a few months into my junior year, I could look back and see all that the Lord had done and how He used those circumstances to grow me. Thank you, Jesus.
So, some friendships are for a season. That's okay. The Lord is going to use it for your good. Get ready to grow, dear one.
5. Do NOT compromise who you are and what you believe to keep a friend/group of friends.
One of my biggest mistakes early in my college career was sacrificing my involvement in campus ministries and following hard after Jesus for the appeasement of a handful of people. Like I said, I sometimes beat myself up because of it but there's no grace in that. If you feel like God has called you to x number of campus ministries, go for it. Follow hard after Jesus in all things. The people that keep up, keep. Those that lag behind and try and keep you still, leave.
Yes, be an example and lead those friends. BUT do not let them keep you from following Jesus. Do not keep them at the expense of your own walk with Jesus. Handle yourself with grace and truth and love.
6. Even when you feel utterly alone, you're not.
Man, I wish I could sit across from you, sipping coffee, and tell you how loved and cherished you are. The internet is good but it's not that good.
So, I want to introduce you to 20 year old Allison. I'm going to speak in third person because I'm not that girl anymore and I'm so thankful. When she wrote this, she was at the bottom. No friends, no one to lean on other than Jesus and her family, no one within arms reach she could really trust.
I don't remember a time when I've felt worse about myself and my situation. The best way for me to communicate to you how loved you are and special you are is by showing you what I learned when I didn't feel loved and special. My heart aches and tears well up in my eyes all over again as I read this and remember how broken, vulnerable, and laid open I was.
Again, for the sake of making you click on another link, I'll just copy and paste it below.
If you'd rather click the link, here it is!
Worth More Than Many Sparrows
May 20, 2015
As I am sitting down to write what God has laid on my heart, I am overwhelmed. I am flooded with mixed emotions and so many thoughts. I hear the lies that Satan keeps whispering in my ear but I know the truths that Scripture says about me. Lately, it seems like there is a constant fight in my mind. It's not pretty.
Have you ever been through a time in your life when you looked back on your life and wondered how in the world you got there?
Well, I definitely have. These moments have been coming frequently this week. Just on Wednesday I found myself sitting on the front row at church during the service thinking, "What happened?" I found myself trying to figure out what happened to the confident girl from last year that was determined to be her own person, do her own thing, and live her life to please God. It's not that she is gone completely... I guess she's just been on a hiatus. Looking back on the past few months, I realized that I haven't exactly been my own person and doing my own thing. I have been doing my own thing but doing it apologetically. As if my service to the Lord and His call on my life is something that I needed to apologize for.
The last few months, my apologetic living has turned into a whole new monster. My insecurity monster was/is back and raging. Right now, I find myself having to fight harder than ever to keep the words of Jesus not just in my heart but also in the forefront of my mind. In the quiet, the insecurity monster is louder than ever. "You're over-reacting." "What is wrong with you?" "No one will ever love you." "No one will ever accept you." "Everyone is just pretending to like you."
And when I realize that I'm actually listening to the stupid monster, I feel so defeated. I thought I had dealt with this. I thought this wasn't an issue anymore.
Then I realized that this is the same monster but not the same problem. But that's something for another time.
Well, at the same church service I mentioned earlier, we were reading from Matthew 9. Just one page over in my Bible I had two "Let's Be Brave" sticky notes. I turned the page and saw that "do not be afraid," is in both Matthew 10:28 and Matthew 10:31.
God is so good and His timing is perfect.
(Just for the sake of not taking anything out of context, I am going to include several verses from chapter 10. I have bolded the verses that we will focus on.)
"Be on guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you...All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved...So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of these who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
Matthew 10:17-20, 22, 26-31 (NIV)
Worth more than many sparrows. It makes me weep just thinking about it.
Here's the deal, y'all. We love Jesus. We serve Jesus. We have said, "Here I am, Lord, send me," and meant it with every fiber of our being. We hunger and thirst for His presence in our everyday lives.
We may be on our mountain top but there is always someone, a group of someones, or an icky circumstance trying to pull us down. They/it may not be trying deliberately but you can feel the tug. You're suddenly confronted with a choice: stick around and fight or walk away. And either choice you make will hurt.
My monster recognized that this is where I'm at and is taking advantage of the situation. I realized I am more afraid of those that can only kill my body. I find myself doing almost everything I can to avoid being questioned (in a negative way) about my association with Jesus. I start trying to justify the work that I do for Jesus because some people may view it as a negative thing. I end up keeping to myself what He has whispered in my ear.
Instant conviction + simultaneously beating myself up = pity party. Yuck.
Yes, I have messed up. I lost sight of what's really important and didn't do what was best for me. And as a result, I have ended up here fighting my monster with every fiber of my being every second of every moment.
Despite all that, I am worth more than many sparrows. There is nothing that I could do or could not do that can change that. I am a messed up sinner in desperate need of a Savior and I am still worth more than many sparrows.
You are too.
I don't know what you're going through, what circumstances seem to be consuming your days, or what your struggles are. But I do know that you are so loved, so strong, and worth more than many, many sparrows.
Close your eyes and hear Jesus whispering those sweet words to you. He knows your circumstances and your struggles and He still thinks you are priceless. There's no way to measure your worth.
You are worth more than many sparrows even when you feel worthless.
You are worth more than many sparrows even when you can't seem to get over whatever struggle you're facing right now.
You are worth more than many sparrows even when you are depressed, angry, upset, or any other emotion that could course through your precious veins.
You are worth more than many sparrows even when you mess up big time.
You are worth more than many sparrows when things are good. You are still worth more than many sparrows when things are not so great.
There's nothing you could do to change that fact or change the way Jesus feels about you.
I'm sure you're probably facing some monsters right now and I am praying for strength, wisdom, and courage for you. Together, we can overcome our monsters and together we can yell from the rooftops the truths that Christ has given us.
If you're wondering if that Scripture is where the blog name came from, the answer is yes.
So, so thankful.
College is tough. Friendships are messy. Life is icky. Jesus is good.
And that, friends, is all I've got. I hope something that was said has helped you, encouraged you, or challenged you. I can't believe this is the last FOUNDATIONS for July! Time has gone so quickly and I can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do in the future!