It’s the New Year, and with the New Year comes new goals and opportunities. For many of you, those goals, opportunities, ideas and dreams come along with new and old friends. Friendship is one of the most beautiful gifts God gives us.
When I was in high school, I had four best friends, a few really good friends and then I knew a lot of people. My mother consistently reminded me that I was not going to stay “friends” with each and every single person from high school. I would nod but I wasn’t sure how much I actually believed her. Six years after graduation, I can tell you that I stayed friends with maybe five or six people from high school. Only three of them I’m still very close to and hang out with on a fairly regular basis. I don’t say this to discourage you from making friendships in high school. I’m saying this to encourage you that there are friendships in high school worth maintaining because they will last. While not every person will remain your closest friend, it’s still worth the effort. There’s a lot that I learned from my friends in high school.
Compare and Contrast
Not all your friends come from a similar home situation as you. They may have a different religion, or even a different culture. Friendships teach you about new aspects of life in a very personal way. They show you the beauty and complexity of life and sometimes the hardships and sadness of life as well. Friendships broaden your horizons in a variety of ways.
In church, school and in your family, you may be taught how to defend your faith and other personal views. But looking eye-to-eye with friends who express viewpoints that you don’t share and are actually giving good points can be a very new experience. It’s experience that you need. Being challenged is not a bad thing, and it’s important to decide why you believe what you believe. Even if you stick to your original viewpoint, deciding that for yourself is important, and friends help bring you to that point.
Seeing God’s Viewpoint
Becoming invested in your friends can show you the love and compassion of God. You begin to see how God finds joy in people as well as the pain He feels when they’re hurting. Getting to know people’s sense of humor, personality and outlook on life can help you to really cherish those individuals and find joy in being their friend. Seeing friends cry over breakups, stress over school or hide from the world as their parents go through a divorce brings you pain as well. This is just a taste of how God feels about you as you go through the ups and downs of life.
Some of the most encouraging words I’ve had in my life came from friends. Sometimes the most encouraging words were the simplest ones. I was in a drama ministry group in high school, and on the plane back from our big trip of the year, we spent some time passing around pieces of paper and writing encouragement for that person. I still have that piece of paper stashed away in a journal so it won’t get lost. I don’t talk to a lot of those people anymore, but it doesn’t make their encouragement invalid. That’s just one example of various times I received meaningful encouragement from friends in high school, college and in my young adult life.
Friendships really are a treasure. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 talks about the importance of friendships; “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” So as you enter this new year, be open to the lessons, strength and treasures that come along with new and old friendships.