Friends shine flashlights into our lives
At Taylor you will experience four years—maybe fewer—hearing some keywords over and over again. You will speak “right relationship,” “flourishing” and “intentional community” in your sleep. And while these words will be made fun of or used in a sarcastic manner by someone on your floor, there is truth to be found in them.
When I was a freshman, I entered Taylor’s loop with fear and anticipation. I wanted to belong, I didn’t know if anyone would understand me and I didn’t know anyone. I sought peers who shared my interests. I found floormates who liked the same movies and music. We talked about DC food and where we sat in class. But all of those nervous jitters and similar interests were masks, keeping us distanced from each other and the meaningful friendships we wanted to cultivate.
Honestly, at Taylor, I’ve made better friendships with people who aren’t like me than with people who agree with me constantly. I found friends who challenge me, who give me a new understanding of what friendship means. Because sometimes, friendship means stopping your naturally chatty self and helping draw out a quiet person. Sometimes it means avoiding easy-to-work-with people and unlocking the desires of the class grouch. Sometimes you just have to meet someone at the Jumping Bean who looks like he has it all together, but deep beneath his overachieving attitude is the fact that he is overwhelmed and failing every class. Sometimes your roommate is going through a huge family crisis and she isn’t sure if she believes or trusts God anymore.
These are tough situations. But these are the moments where true relational wealth and trust are formed. It isn’t always easy and comfortable, but it isn’t supposed to be. This is where you chose to spend four years of your life, and this is what you are meant to be doing. This is where value comes from.
To give insight into a real friendship, I’ll share what I know. I’ve come across friends who are marvelous listeners. They smile and nod encouragingly as I tell them about my week. They listen to my deep hurts and frustrations with life. But they don’t stop there. They stand out from the wallpaper and give me a much needed hug. They inspire me to dream. I’m talking change-the-world dreaming! They tell me to push past my fears and delve into the wild pursuits that I wouldn’t dare venture into without support and possibly a flashlight. These friends tell it to me straight when I need to think beyond my little bubble of understanding, but they speak in the kindest ways because they love me and would never shut me down.
I value my friends’ companionship because they have triumphed and struggled with me. But even in those dark places, my friends bring their own flashlights that come in the form of voices reminding me that it is worth my time to try again.
So while you’re here for the next four years, and you hear “intentional community” and other keywords, and you’re contemplating writing them off, remember this: the friendships that consist of pick-a-dates, Ivanhoe’s runs and random trips to Love’s are big college milestones and memories, but they will eventually end.
You will remember the moment when you watched your floormate cry about her struggles or you were put in a place where you had to be open and vulnerable for the first time in your life. When someone else was softened by your words . . . . These are the memories that live on. They become friendships that no one is going to forget.