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March 23, 2023 by

“The best time to make friends is before you need them.” – Ethel Barrymore

One of the most beautiful gifts we could receive from the Lord besides the gift of grace, is that of friendship. Automatically upon being saved, we are welcomed into the Body of Christ, which shows the emphasis the Lord places on community and fellowship!

If friendship is condoned, commanded, and celebrated by God, why it is so difficult to create relationships that last the tests of time and hardship?

The answer to that question is that we live in a broken, fallen world.

The good news is that I am here to give you 8 tips on how to find and invest in good, healthy, and uplifting friendships during your time here at Cedarville. I will be speaking from my experience and how the Lord has turned a lament into a praise! Whether you are a prospective student, super senior, or anything in between, this is for you.

1. Start with Prayer

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).

When we approach any topic, it is imperative that we begin with prayer. This centers our minds on Christ, gives us an eternal perspective, settles our emotions, and increases our dependency on the Lord. Last semester (first semester freshman year), I struggled with community. I had a few friends, but still somehow felt like I was alone. I came home winter break exhausted and defeated, wondering why God called me to an amazing school only to let me feel alone. However, He was reminding me that I am completely and utterly dependent on Him and my joy can ONLY be found in Him. So, a habit that has greatly improved my perspective this semester is prayer!

Here are a few of the things I prayed for:

  • A heart that desires Christ first & is satisfied in Him alone
  • Opportunities to meet new people & strengthen existing friendships
  • Boldness to take those opportunities
  • Gratitude for the blessings the Lord has already provided me with
  • Faith that the Lord is sovereign, steadfast, and trustworthy
  • That the Lord would remove my anxiousness and give me His peace

2. Be Intentional

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV).

The next step is to begin to grab hold of the opportunities the Lord presents you before they slip out of your fingers. This takes intentionality. To be blunt, you will not find friends by sitting in your dorm by yourself all day and hope that they will come knocking. You need to put yourself in vulnerable places that may be out of your comfort zone. This will only increase your trust in the Lord!

  • Instead of doing homework in your room, try studying in the library or SSC!
  • Instead of escaping class without speaking a word, talk to the people beside you – all it takes is a simple “hello, how is your day going?” or “what other classes do you have today?”
  • Rather than going to meals by yourself, take those as an opportunity to strengthen friendships (which I will touch on later).
  • Say hi to the people you see when brushing your teeth in the bathroom and ask them about their plans for the day!

3. Knock on Doors

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8 ESV).

No, this verse does not directly relate to this topic, however, it goes back to being intentional in prayer and asking for opportunities from the Lord!

Another step in being intentional is to knock on people’s doors. Literally. I promise you; this was my best friend this semester. Every night before I shut myself in my room to get a few hours of beauty sleep, I began to knock on the doors of the girls in my unit. Those late-night floor conversations have been some of the best times of the whole year. By being vulnerable, you can strengthen relationships with the people you live with! It will be worth any temporary awkwardness you may face.

4. Challenge Yourself

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV).

Here is a challenge: don’t let yourself go to sleep if you have not invested in community in some way that day.

This may seem a little over the top, but it helps! I keep a monthly habit tracker in my bullet journal, and this year I decided to add “community” as a daily habit. That meant that every day I had to be intentional in some way to invest in community. This could range from talking to someone new in class, to sharing a meal with a friend, to knocking on several doors at the end of the day! It challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and it has paid off.

The Lord uses us when we are fully surrendered to Him. By placing ourselves in situations that allow Him to move in mighty ways we learn to trust more deeply in His providence and sovereignty. We have no clue what He will do, but every time you try it will only strengthen you as an individual and cause this habit to become like second nature!

Four female college students, two standing across from two, have a snowball fight on campus.
5. One-on-ones Are Your Friend

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:11-20 ESV).

Do not let potential awkwardness scare you away from pursuing one-on-one time with your friends. Grabbing a meal at Chuck’s or coffee at Rinnova is a great way to get to know someone. Ask questions about their life growing up, what brought them to Cedarville, how community life has been going for them and more!

Don’t waste the wonderful opportunities that meals offer for fellowship, laughter, and memories. All it takes is a simple text: “hey, I was wondering if you would like to grab a meal with me sometime this week?”

(Quick side note: I would caution you against excessive one-on-one time with someone of the opposite gender unless you are pursuing a potential romantic relationship. This protects the hearts of both individuals and allows for more clarity and less miscommunication in the future!)

6. Don’t Give Up

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV).

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV).

These tips are not magical. Following them perfectly does not guarantee that friendships will be easy, because we must remember that we are still in a broken, fallen world. However, the most important thing is that we persevere through every hardship because that will produce God-glorifying character in us. Do not give up when things begin to get challenging, confusing, and uncomfortable, remember that the Lord gave up His life so that you may forever be His child. That is the hope we are called to cling to!

7. Watch Your Mouth

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV).

Gossip is an addictive cancer. Once we start, we find ourselves on a slippery slope that is impossible to climb up. Once we start, it is also hard to stop.

Do not let your relationships be centered on hurtful and unhelpful talk. Those friendships will not last because they are built on shifting sands. Do not wait for everyone else to change, be the light in the dark. Be the friend who points everyone else back to Christ and who models humility, gentleness, and love. Stand firm on the truth of God’s Word and seek out people who will encourage, build you up, and spur you on.

Several female college students at a coffee shop, sitting at various tables while they work on homework.
8. Build Your Friendships on the Rock

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).”

Jesus calls us to build our houses (lives) on the Rock, and we must also apply that principle to each of our relationships. Whether you are forming new friendships or investing in existing ones, it is crucial that you are grounding everything you do in the truth of Scripture. Here are some practical ways to do that:

  • Ask intentional questions about their spiritual health/walk with the Lord and how it is going
  • Ask for prayer requests and pray WITH them
  • Pray for them on your own time
  • Start a Bible study together
  • Keep them accountable for specific prayers and sin struggles
  • Call them out (check the log in your eye first) when you see them in an unhelpful pattern
  • Seek counsel when you face bumps in the road
  • Be honest and bring concerns to them directly
  • Do not gossip with or about them
  • Be intentional in encouraging them
  • Share biblical truth that you discover on your own with them whether that be from your personal quiet time or a random video you came across!

I hope these tips encourage you! It is not an exhaustive list and like I said before, it is not magical. If you take anything away, I hope it is that we are called to depend fully on the Lord, to be satisfied in Him, and to trust Him with our friendships! He is good and every good gift comes from Him. Choose to rejoice in all that He has blessed you with and trust Him with the rest.

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you” (Psalm 145:8-10 ESV).

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