Sister to Sister: Made for Community

Photobucket -
 Dear Sisters in Christ,
-
When life changes, we learn it's possible to gaze forward and backward at the same time. I've found this doubly true this past year between college and law school. When law school preparations weren't reminding me of starting college, then my job as a college admissions counselor was. Considering the ways I've changed in five years from a Virginia college freshman to a Massachusetts law student has made this year both disheartening and encouraging; I'm confronted with my lingering sin, yet reminded of God's great grace. It's a privilege to share with you about God's work in my life - and honestly, it was hard to choose just one area! Yet as I thought about the ways God has increased my trust in His goodness, my thoughts turned to friendship.
-
The summer before starting college, I prayed for friends I hadn't even met. After being part of a small home school group, I was excited to attend a college where I would be surrounded by like-minded Christians from across the country. Yet if I was honest with myself, I was also a little scared that I wouldn't find friends quickly. So I prayed the entire summer that God would place me with roommates who could become good friends. It was definitely a chance to practice trust: my rooming assignments were switched last minute before I arrived on campus (twice) and my parents left Orientation convinced at least one of my new roommates and I would never get along.
-
This inauspicious beginning was God's setup to refine my understanding of friendship. Behind the excitement and anxiety, I was also a little ashamed to be so concerned about making friends. Praying about it felt a little, well, unspiritual. Shouldn't I be more concerned about service or evangelism? Isn't dependence on friends the first step toward giving into peer pressure? And shouldn't a mature Christian desire only Christ? It is true that the importance I place on friendship often betrays a selfish desire for comfort and acceptance, reveals doubt in God's provision, and reflects the idol friendship can so easily become. These are real dangers; nevertheless, in His kindness, sometimes God teaches us to reject counterfeits by showing us true beauty.
-
Have you noticed how often Scripture records God's interest in our joy? My time in Virginia was filled with rich memories, and despite my parents' prediction, my freshman roommates are now two of my closest friends. God not only abundantly met a need I was hesitant to admit, but He patiently taught me the role friendship plays in His plan for His children. My freshman philosophy course dissected Aristotle's argument that man is a social being and my upper-level political theory courses emphasized the importance of close, vibrant communities for political strength. Both ideas are echoes of Scripture's emphasis on family and the Church and its praise of a true friend's honesty and love. God made us for community, and we find true happiness when we live in light of this reality. There are other blessings derived from friendship, like the ability to serve God more effectively together than we can alone, but simply enjoying our friends also honors our Lord. For God - how amazing! - is interested in our joy.
-
If God made me for community, then I need others. This second observation on friendship flows logically from the first, but it was harder to accept for a girl who considered standing alone a mark of spiritual strength. Yet that idea is only half-truth: doing what is right when no one else will is a virtue, but trying to justify prideful self-sufficiency is not. Fortunately, friendship is a potent remedy for pride. It puts my status as a dependent creature on display; it cries out that I am insufficient alone. Admitting weakness to my friends has been a consistent battle for me, yet I continue to learn that there is freedom when I live in humble honesty. Our friends are uniquely positioned to show us our sin: resolving conflicts with friends who know me enough to discern my motives has forced me to confront blackness in my heart I could not see alone. Our friends challenge us to live in a way that honors Christ in every moment - especially the unguarded, casual moments when it's "only our friends" watching. At their best, these aspects of friendship point us to Christ, for recognizing I need others reminds me I am dependent on God for every breath.
-
Preparing for law school highlighted a final thought on friendship for me. This summer I've been praying again, but the request is different. I've been praying for my future church. Throughout college, God brought pastors and friends into my life who all stressed the importance of the local church. I attended church consistently in college, but I regret seldom making it a priority beyond Sundays. As I move to a new city and a secular campus, I'm very aware of my need for the Church and its unity in Christ that reaches far beyond merely human friendships. Across the centuries, God has used the discipleship and encouragement of the Church to train His people for service and those times when He does call them to stand alone. The Church is where we hear the Gospel proclaimed and learn to see Christ with clearer eyes. The Church increases our joy, acknowledges our need for others, and points us to Christ. In essence, it is the best context for Christian friendship.
-
While I am excited for this coming year, it would be dishonest to say leaving my Virginia friends and starting over in Massachusetts isn't difficult. Yet seeing His faithfulness in the past strengthens my trust in our great God, and reflecting on friendship is a stunning testimony to God's kindness to us in every area. God has promised to meet every need, even the ones we are too ashamed to admit and the ones we do not fully understand. And should we be surprised? He has already met our deepest need through the sacrifice of His Son and then pours upon us every spiritual blessing in Christ. It is a good thing He gives us friends - how could we ever praise Him enough alone?
-
In Christ,
Lindsay See
-
Lindsay See graduated from Patrick Henry College in 2007 with a degree in Political Theory. She is now a student at Harvard Law School and eventually hopes to work in the family law/child abuse field.
-
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2008 issue of Bloom! Magazine.
-

Comments

  1. Thanks for the encouaragement. My family has been going through a somewhat lonely time. But we have been praying and we know that God will provide.
    Thank you for posting.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment