Community: we all have one, we all want one, and we all need one. Whether you're 7 or 17 years old, we all desire to have a group of people we can turn to in any situation. However, after a semester of college, I realized that the community I would be surrounding myself with wasn't just there for me to turn to in the good and the bad; they were there to influence me, my choices, and my faith. They were there to hold me accountable and to let me know when I hurt them, and they were always there to assure me that I wasn't alone on this little journey called college. And although my desire was to find a community that would help me grow with the Lord, I happened to fall into one that had other priorities.
But let's start from the beginning.
College: it's a time when you're plucked from the security and comfort that you've known your entire life and placed in a totally different environment. It's as if God picks us up like we're a Mii on the Wii and places us where He wants us; "Good luck!" He says, "You're gonna do great!" But, of course, everyone struggles at the beginning of college. You're desperately clinging to anyone you can find in order to keep from staying in your dorm every night with no friends. You're going with random groups of people to concerts and frat parties because you don't have any episodes of "One Tree Hill" left to watch on a Friday night. And guess what? It's fun! You're meeting tons of new people and having the time of your life; trust me, I know.
But then, it becomes your life; it absorbs you. You live for your Friday night plans and are numb to the horrible feeling you wake up with Saturday mornings. Your biggest concern is what you're going to wear out that night or if you should straighten or curl your hair. From the outside looking in, it looks ridiculous... right? However, when that's what everyone around you is doing, it's normal. And although it's fun, it consumes you.
Everyone I've met at college has been incredible. I've made some of the best friendships I'll ever experience. But what I have come to realize over the course of the past nine months is that friendships based on faith are the sweetest, most joyful friendships I have found. Friendships based on accountability, honesty, faith, and an overwhelming amount of love are indescribably wonderful. These friends graciously tell you when you're wrong and celebrate with you during your smallest victories. They pray for and with you and show you consistent love, and they are true brothers and sisters in Christ.
College is already scary, but it's even scarier when you're lonely. And when you go to a big state school like I did, you find yourself overwhelmed with the number of strangers that you're surrounded by. It's easy to get lost in a crowd you don't want to be in when they're the only people you can find. It's easy to "conform to the patterns of this world" no matter how much you don't want to. It's easy to put aside your faith and what you believe in because you don't have time for it. However, this will all just leave you empty and unsatisfied.
So, to all of you rising freshmen: find community. Find people who challenge you to go deeper and further in your faith, tell you when you mess up, and show you unending love every day. Find people who will go to a field full of flowers with you and have dance parties on top of the parking deck. Find people who will sit with you in the dining hall for hours just to hear about your life story. Because I can assure you, they will be the best friendships you'll find in college.
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:24-25
"How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" - Psalm 133:1
"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” - Matthew 18:20