When I first stepped foot on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University, I had expectations—expectations for how involved I would be, how many all-nighters I would pull and what kind of friends I would have. The plans I had were for the person I wanted to be, but God quickly sidelined every expectation I had with His own, which ended up being best for me.
My first friend was made during Freshman Fanfare. The theme that year, fittingly, was the popular television show “Friends.” I still have not watched the show in its entirety, but I made a lot of friends through Fanfare, some lasting and some not. Following that experience, God used the next 3.5 years of my college experience to teach me a lot about friends and used them to shape me.
As my final farewell to the Talon and to Oklahoma Christian, I would like to share a few of those things.
Lesson 1: Do not let your first impressions or judgements decide for you whether someone has the “potential” to be your friend.
Many of my friends know this about me, but I have the worst luck with first impressions. I have lost count the number of friends I have who started out on the wrong foot. Most of the time, it is just my own false judgement getting in the way, but I have been wrong every time. Each of those people have turned into some of my most precious friends.
This lesson taught me not to be quick to judge and, believe me, I am still learning. God taught me to be open minded of the struggles of other people and to stop and consider another option for why a person is the way they are. Just because someone seems annoying at first does not mean you cannot get used to it and come to love the way they are unapologetically themselves. Give them a chance. They might surprise you.
Lesson 2: Friendship does have a honeymoon phase. Do not give up after it ends.
There comes a point in every friendship—every relationship, for that matter—when you may start to notice things about your friends which really annoy you, and not in a way you come to love. This friend may have a habit that just gets on your nerves, an opinion you do not agree with or just an inexplicable thing they do that always seems to make you mad.
My advice: Get over it.
This situation happens in every friendship. Too often I see people giving up on their friends just because they occasionally annoy them or because they get upset over a stupid disagreement. This is no reason to ditch a friend. Learn to work through your problems. It will be worth it.
Lesson 3: When you find a good friend, hang on for dear life.
I have heard people say, “You will make your life-long, best friends in college.” They are not wrong. The friends I have now, I know I will have for the rest of my life—not because we will always live near one another or because I cannot live without them, but because it is evident God placed them with me for a reason. Each friend I have has fulfilled a specific purpose in my life only they could achieve. Take a moment to consider the friends you have. Thank them for encouraging you to grow and thank God for giving them to you. Friends brought to you by God are friends worth holding on to. Please, hold on. You will be glad you did.
At the end of “Friends,” the characters are all leaving behind an empty apartment and heading into an unknown—and likely unexpected—future. Leading up to graduation, I often ask myself, “Where do I go now?” Echoing my thoughts exactly, the final line of the show is, “Where?” While the character is referring to where the group is going to have coffee, which is obvious to any faithful “Friends” fan, I cannot help but consider this line in relation to my own life.
I do not know where God will lead me and my friends next. Some friends may end up on the other side of the world while some will remain close. Either way, I know the experiences we shared during this time and the profound impact they have had on me will connect us beyond what miles can separate.