I remember the day I told my best friends goodbye. We were all headed off to different colleges, and I hated it. It seemed like we were just getting to the point of being real, of not feeling like we had to impress each another. I was bummed, not only because I knew I'd miss them, but also because I was scared of having to make new friends. I did have something to be excited about, though. After 13 years of public school, I was going to a Christian college, and I was pumped about being surrounded by lots of people who shared my faith. I was sure new friendships there could help me grow in my relationship with God.
I had only been at school a few hours before I was thrust into one get-to-know-you activity after the other. It was pretty overwhelming. I met so many people and had so many names floating through my brain I thought it might explode. Will I ever find real friends? I wondered as I headed off to another meal in the cafeteria. That's when I met Jenny. For some reason, we just started talking to each other. Before long, we both had our trays and were eating together. As we talked, we soon realized we lived on the same floor, and we were just a couple of doors down from each other. We also discovered we shared a similar desire to grow closer to Christ.
In the coming weeks, Jenny and I began letting each other know about our personal struggles. We also started praying for each other, and even began reading the Bible together. After only a few weeks, I found myself thanking God for this incredible gift of friendship.
I can't imagine what my freshman year would've been like without Jenny. God used her to teach me and encourage me. There were other friends, too—Natalie, Brooke, Robin, Kelly. With each of them, I was able to be completely vulnerable and show them the real me. They knew my weaknesses and supported me through hard times. They also helped me lighten up and enjoy life when I was taking things too seriously. But most importantly, they pointed me to Christ constantly because they were seeking him, too.
When you head off to college, you're also going to have an opportunity to search for friends like Jenny—the kind of people who will encourage you in your walk with Christ. The kind of people who will challenge you to seek and live for God simply by the way they live their own lives.
Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." As you think about developing new friends at college, let God talk to you through this verse. Ask him to guide you to friends whose wisdom—not foolishness—will rub off on you and help you draw closer to Christ. Then, head off to those new freshmen get-togethers and dorm parties confident that he's going to answer your prayers.