Old friends make the best friends, that’s what I hear older people say anyway. I never truly believed
this saying until last fall when I ran into a familiar face at my local Target in town. Her name was
Jacqueline, she was nineteen now and a college student. Her hair was now a dark brown and her once freckled face was now clear. We ran into each other at Target, ironically down the street from where both our younger years began in Fresno, California. It took a couple glances before I realized this
Jacqueline was my Jacqueline, just a grown-up version. She too looked at me and realized I was
Vanessa, her Vanessa from years ago. We both had grown up. Instantly, our faces became familiar to
each other once again and we ran to hug each other. It was as if no time had passed, and the stories
of past childhood antics began right in the middle aisle of Target.
Frankly, I can’t remember when Jacqueline wasn’t there. Even though years had passed she was always in my thoughts and in my own way I knew she was there cheering me on. I guess we never forget our first best friend and the innocence of childhood play. We had started kindergarten together in 2000, we were both born in 1995 and at a young age we both knew we were headed for greatness. We were going to become well know movie stars together and take over Hollywood. We were both similar and did first of many things together.
Both our houses had a fence between us, so instead of walking through the front door Jacqueline’s
mom would push us over the fence. That fence looked like a mountain in my child eyes! Her mom
would always say,” If you have fear you get nowhere.” I think that’s why I live my life fearless now. Her
mom was my favorite person on the planet. That’s what I used to tell her anyways! Her mom always
made me feel safe and loved, something that my parents couldn’t give me. Looking back now I think
that’s why she took a special interest in me.
Jacqueline had a larger than life personality. Her short, uncombed, red hair and face full of freckles
matched that fiery personality! I had long dark brown hair, glasses and a larger than life personality as well. We were the perfect match. Most of our time was spent at Jacqueline’s house. She had a room full of Barbies, Britney Spears newest music hits and a drawer full of dress up clothes. I was on cloud nine, just straight heaven.
As soon as school was out we’d run into the house grab goldfish crackers, a handful of candy and go
straight to her room. We’d play for hours jumping on her bed, laughing until we cried. She had many
Britney Spears dolls so, we sang, “Oops I did it again” 24/7 around the house. That’s when our ideas of being famous began. We were going to be popular like Britney Spears. Loved by all!
On many occasions, you could catch us running around the house naked, wearing only underwear and a superman cape with a princess crown half off our heads. We were a mess. There was nothing we couldn’t accomplish or save together. We were invincible.
Jacqueline and I loved just talking with each other and being in the moment. In fact, we loved being
together and talking so much our larger than life personalities got us in trouble in first grade. We had to sit in the corner for disturbing the class and talking too much. Our teacher wasn’t too pleased with us that day. We laughed anyways.
Jacqueline and I loved to sit on her mom’s bed and watch her get ready for dates, and dream of being grown up wearing red lipstick. We would watch movies together, play in the dirt, swim, play soccer, put our heads out the window in her mom’s convertible, saw plays together at the local theatre, we had endless sleepovers, she would be at all my parties and I at hers. There was nothing we did separate.
We were truly partners in crime.
One day I came over, she was curled up in a ball crying. She was moving to a different town. It was the end of second grade now and the end of my first best friend. She did move. She hugged me by saying we’d always be best friends and her mother kissed me and told me to be tough, strong girl and know I was loved. I was heartbroken. I would look at her house with new neighbors and want my friend back. We lost contact and that second-grade summer would be the last time I saw her.
Time passed and here we were now both in the same aisle in Target down the street from where our younger years began. As our talked ended, we smiled, wiped tears and hugged, for a moment all I saw was the five-year-old Jacqueline, not the nineteen-year-old Jacqueline. We talked about college, Jesus, our salvation, what became of our lives, my move to LA, and life. Even thou we grew up, I’ll always see her as that red headed, freckled face kid running around naked with me in a superman cape and tiara. I watched her walk away. I wasn’t sad this time, I was happy. I finally realized when someone leaves our lives it’s not always forever, some do come back. True friendship never dies, it’s always in the heart. I have Jacqueline to thank for that lesson.
In this new season of school, college classes or wherever you are at in life, remember the importance of being intentional in friendships. It's true you never know where or how those friendship's will end up, but it's important to remember that friends may come and go, yes, but that's why we must show Christ to them in our time together. Show Christ-like love, be present, love knowing we may or may not get hurt in that friendship, and always pray. Pray for wisdom, guidance, grace and love. Friends expose sin that keeps us from God. They are honest about our faults. That's a two-way street, be honest with them as well. Friends help us to enjoy God. This can be by going to church groups together, hitting up a Christian concert, or simply sitting in your dorm room talking about him. Friends lead us back to God when we get distracted and head onto the wrong life path. Friends see us for how God sees us: beautiful, worthy, and seen.
Thank God for old friendships. Also, thank him for the new ones to come. Be blessed sweet friends.
Written By: Vanessa
I grew up in the same church my whole life. I was the youth pastor’s kid, and ultimately it left me feeling pretty lonely. I had a few friends - a few who encouraged me to walk in my faith and a few who just made me laugh, yet I always felt alone. After high school, I moved to Virginia to attend Liberty University (which is a huge school, like seriously really large). For the first two years, I felt alone as well. I’m not one to just go up to people and connect. I need people to approach me, accept me, and befriend me first.
I love the show Friends so much. I love the dynamics of the characters and seeing them do life together. And that’s what each of us crave - friendships that we walk through life having. But instead, we sit alone in our rooms and watch community take place on a TV screen. Making friends is hard, but making friends is necessary.
Community is a vital part of our walk in life. Jesus created community and friendships so we could grow. So why is making friends so intimidating?
Let’s jump into Scripture then talk. In the four gospel books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), we see Jesus having community with other people. He builds relationships with people in the towns he travels to and He builds relationships with the disciples. Jesus knew the importance of community. He acted on it. He gave us an example. In Luke chapter 22, we see Jesus leading the example of communion. He broke bread with the people around him. He talked to them, He led them, and He gave them a model to follow.
Sometimes I wish I could just go to coffee with Jesus like I would with one of my close friends. We’d laugh over coffee, cry about brokenness, and He’d be so encouraging (like c’mon, it would be amazing). Then reality kicks in and I realize I can’t exactly meet Jesus at Starbucks to chat, but Jesus reminds me, “That’s why I created friendship and community.”
Yes, I can’t meet him at a coffee shop or for dinner, but He wants me to do that with other people. Friends.
In the book of Acts, we read about churches begin to form and talk about this Jesus guy who did something incredible (like raising from the dead incredible). They began to gather together and form friendships and community with one another. Acts 2:42-47 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
They broke bread together. They met together. They did life together. Just like Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey, and Ross (okay, they’re community probably looked really different, but I’m just making a connection).
Jesus calls us to love friends and be loved by friends.
Maybe you’re reading this, and you’re saying, “Carrie. I get that. But I can’t seem to make friends anywhere I go.” Begin to pray. In that season of loneliness, I began to pray for a friend (just one), and the Lord brought me Emalea, the friend I had been praying for. Then I stopped praying and the Lord brought Rebekah. And more and more community began to form. He knew what I needed and He acted.
As school begins and you’re intimidated by making friends, remember the importance of it all. Friends matter. Community matters. Jesus calls us to it, and He’ll provide the people we need. So when it feels like you’re stuck in second gear, they’ll be there for you (see what I did there?).
Written By: Carrie
Picture your favorite best friend duo from a TV show or movie. Is it Blair and Serena from Gossip Girl? Meredith and Cristina from Grey’s Anatomy? Now take a moment and think about whether you have a friendship that parallels that example you’ve spent so much time watching and being entertained by on TV. If I’m completely honest with myself, while I have good friends, none of my friendships look quite like those fictional scenarios. I have close friends, but not friends that show up at my house unannounced daily. I have friends I share things with, but I don’t cry on their shoulders pouring out my heart nearly as often as I see happening on TV. Sometimes this discourages me, and I’m going to guess that some of you girls feel that way too. But when that happens, I have to remind myself that the friendships exemplified on these shows are fictional. Just as magazine covers are edited to show what culture considers to be ideal bodies, TV shows are written to show the lives we all wish we could live. When I look at magazine covers I have to remind myself that I am not viewing a real, attainable appearance. In the same way, when I watch TV I have to remind myself that those relationships (much like many other parts of the show… who has as much money to shop with as Blair and Serena?!) are exaggerated ideals.
If you feel like your friendships don’t measure up, you’re not alone. But if that makes you feel like you aren’t good enough, you’re sadly mistaken.
Something I have learned throughout my college years is that friends are a great gift from God, but not what define me and give me value. Friends are people I share some of my happiest moments with, but not the source of my joy. Friends teach me more about who I am, but are not the ones ultimately responsible for shaping me.
Do you get that, sweet girl? Your friendships—however they may compare to the people around you and on the screen in front of you—do not add to or take away from your value in Christ. While friendship is a true gift and something we were created to experience, it is not a determining factor in your value. Your value begins and ends in the fact that you were created by God in His image and loved dearly by Him.
These aren’t my words… these are God’s! In Genesis 1:27 we read ,“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them.” Later in Scripture, we are reminded in Psalm 103:8 that God is “abounding in steadfast love.”
If you do feel like you’re struggling with not having close friends, let me suggest a few things that may help deepen your relationships…
Written By: Emily
1 Corinthians 15:33- Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Have you ever used the phrase with your parents, “Well, if I can hang out with them I can be a witness to them?” Some semblance of this phrase came out of my mouth several times in the high school/college/ young adult periods of my life. I was a good kid and grew up in a Christian home. Most of my friends were also in my youth group at church and if they weren’t at my church they went to another one in our community. Therefore, my friends were also pretty good kids too. Somewhere though, about my senior year of high school, I started getting a little itch to bust out of that “good kid” mold. My way of doing that was to date some guys who were bad news. I was convinced that while I was being a little rebellious and hanging out with guys who were not the greatest, I could also be a witness and that was my argument with my parents. I went on to date a handful of guys over the next several years that were no good for me. At the time I truly thought I could have a positive impact on them and for a couple of them I think I did. But looking back I can see the mistakes I made or almost made because of my choice of friends. I spent so much time in their world that the black and white lines I had drawn based on my beliefs started to become gray. I started to become ok with the things I was seeing or hearing on a daily basis because it just became a part of my everyday life and down a slippery slope I went.
There is a quote by Jim Rohn that says, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” If you spend a lot of time with people they will influence the way you act, think, and speak. It can be a slow fade but it happens. I want to make it very clear that God never once tells us to not hang out with sinners. Jesus spent a ton of time with those who had made bad choices in life and who had less than stellar reputations. In fact, he often went out of his way to find them. (This is what my argument in high school was built on!) The problem for us is that he was JESUS! He was tempted by the Devil himself and didn’t cave. He had the ability to get himself off the cross and he didn’t. He knew his Father’s plan and he wasn’t going to be swayed by other’s choices, opinions, or reputations. He knew he could hang around people unlike him and not be swayed. We don’t have that power but we do have something that is strong and that is Jesus living in us.
We are called to be the salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). We are called to be a light in a dark world and we certainly can’t do that if we aren’t a part of the world. So where is the balance? I think we need to look at the example Jesus provides. Jesus was in this world but not of it. He was friends with sinners but he didn’t sin. God commands us all over the Bible to love others. He never tells us to imitate others but he does tell us to imitate Christ. We are human and we will sin. We can never be perfect because we aren’t Jesus. But we can be a light. We can serve others. We can be friendly and kind to those that we see. We can be inclusive and let others know they are seen. Most of all we need to love others and point them to God’s love.
Do you need to re-evaulate your friends today? Can you look and see where they have caused you to slide into some gray areas that you really aren’t ok with. Do you know girls in your school that would have a positive influence on you that you may need to start hanging around? Are you putting yourself out there to be a light? Friendships and relationships are hard and I am praying for you today as you look at what you have and decide if you need something different!
Written By: Heather
The other day I opened my memory box, I was searching for a birthday card. I have this weird thing I do if I see cards, I’ll buy them and hold onto them until it’s someone’s birthday. As I searched through a pile of cards at the bottom of the box a picture caught my attention. It was a picture of me and Chelsea. Chelsea is a girl I have literally known since preschool, we went to summer camp together and literally every birthday party we both had growing up. Our friendship had it’s ups and downs growing up, in high school we kind of went our separate ways, but by senior year we had reconnected and our friendship was stronger than ever.
One of the things, I loved most about our friendship was we could laugh and be silly. Chelsea and I would jam out in the car and I loved it. We would build each other up in Christ and constantly challenge each other to find Christ amid the circumstances. I honestly thought we would be friends forever. Well about two years ago, I can’t believe it’s been two years as I write this, my world changed. Grad school was ending, my parents had moved and I was about to embark on a new journey. A little before my new journey was about to begin, my friendship with her changed. We would go weeks without talking, she would not reply back to my messages and I wasn’t sure what was changing. As my move, out west was about to unfold, I wanted to see her one last time. However, that time never came. I could not believe I had lost a friend this way. What had I had done? What was wrong with me that she did not want to be my friend anymore?
I was so stunned that our friendship would end. I honestly had thought we would be lifetime friends. Over time, I have reached out to her and there was no response. How do you deal when friends just peace out of your life like this? It’s not easy but here are a few samples of what I learned.
As I close, I end with this, when my friendship with Chelsea ended, my heart was truly broken. I am still facebook friends with her until this day and she seems like she is doing amazing. I wish her all the best. I share this journey of losing my friend with you because I know it sucks losing your BFF and when big changes like that come your heart can really hurt. I hope you know that even though we will have a lot of friends that come and go, God will never leave us. He is our constant friend. So if you are in a place where you have a close friendship that has just been broken meditate on this verse: Hebrews: 13: 5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So even though you have friends that will come and go, the truth of God boldly declares that he will never leave your side, so your relationship with Christ can never be lost. Be encouraged in this truth today!
Written By: Rebeccah
The back to school season is in full swing! If you are anything like me, friendships were the things that made school, work, church, etc. fun. Every day I wake up excited to go see my friends and look forward to the possibility of meeting new people. I thrive on being in relationships with others. If you are anything like me, however, you may find that sometimes this love for friends can become draining. I often find myself so intertwined in my friends’ lives that I begin making their problems my own. I am a fixer! It is what I do. We must be cautious with this mentality.
It is important to remember that in any kind of relationship, we can support and love one another, but we cannot own each other’s struggles. I know what you are thinking: “Adyson, the Bible says to bear one another’s burdens!” You are absolutely right, it does say that. There is a difference between bearing one another’s burdens and taking all of their burdens onto your own shoulders. See I used to think that it was my job in bearing a friend’s burdens to take responsibility for their burdens, this is NOT what we are called to do. We are called to show compassion, empathy, and support. Most importantly, we are called to point our friends back to the cross in times of hardship.
I challenge you to take a look at yourself and your relationships and see if you are supporting your friends or taking responsibility for your friends. It is important to see the difference between those two things. The only person you can take responsibility for is yourself. When we begin to take responsibility for others, we are putting undue stress on ourselves and then we really aren’t being a help to anyone. We must seek Christ first. We must care for ourselves first. The saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” exists for a reason. If you begin taking responsibility for everyone else, you will find yourself emptied out. I encourage you to refill your heart and being daily—whether that be spiritually, physically, mentally, all of the above is up to you and what you feel your needs are.
Again, if you are like me, these pretty word pictures don’t help you. So, let’s get practical here, this is what I do: I nourish myself physically, I make sure I am getting enough sleep, I work hard in school and my job, I turn my eyes to Christ for guidance. When I begin with these things, I am able to support the people in my life more effectively as I am not burning myself out in an attempt to solve all of their problems. I challenge you to take care of you first. This is something that many Christians overlook as we often believe it is selfish, let me be the one to say that it is not.
Bear their burdens, but do not neglect yourself. This will actually strengthen your friendships and relationships in the long run as you will have the energy to be present with them. How are you going to put this into practice in your own life? I challenge you to think and pray about it over the next few days.
Written By: Adyson