I have been blessed with some amazing friends here at Syracuse. And as the semester and the end of my college career comes to a close, I have been feeling the opportunities to spend with such individuals diminish.
Last year, I became close to someone who was two years younger than I. It was when I drove her and a few other girls to a retreat (held by Cru) that I became close to her. She sat in the front seat and we bonded over conversation. Our friendship somehow grew exponentially. We spent the entire retreat weekend together and it was not long after that I invited her to sleep over my house off-campus.
In my room, I opened up and shared with her secrets that I had never shared with anyone before. Our friendship continued to blossom. We did not even live close to one another, but we always found time to hit the gym, the library and we even met up once a week for discipleship (studying the book of Proverbs). We bonded fairly quickly and I loved her so much.
This year, it all felt a little different. She became more distant from me as she took on new roles and edged out of the Christian organization we were both involved in. Meeting up with her became difficult and most of my texts slipped through all of her other commitments.
I had not seen her for almost two months and had been trying to get a hold of her for one month. I try not to count the times people let me down, but this was the second time she “abandoned” me. The first time, she gave a sincere apology and said she would never do this again. This time around, I felt hurt because of her spoken promise.
At the last meeting for Cru, I spoke to a mutual friend of hers, who was in the same year and had a few classes with her. I rarely spoke to this mutual friend, but she came up to me and asked how I was doing. Cutting to the chase, I asked how our friend was. Her response saddened me. It seemed to me that my dear friend was struggling in her faith. She repeatedly hugged me and said that she was lucky to have a friend like me. Honestly, I felt like a terrible friend and that I actually failed as a friend. I was so caught up with all my work, that I left her behind and made no true efforts to meet up with her.
I am usually in bed by 10:30pm (I know… early for a college student), but after the late meeting, I felt compelled to meet my friend. I went to my friend’s room to which the roommate opened the door. My friend was not there. Saddened, I asked the roommate if she could text me when she got there that night or the next day. She agreed.
Leaving the residence hall, I almost cried. It was in this moment that I realized how much I loved this friend. How much it broke my heart to find out she was struggling spiritually, drowning in commitments and far away from Christian fellowship. Had I not cared or loved her so much, I would not be affected as much… but I was (and still am). My friend was not answering her phone and I was wondering if it was because she felt that I was just another association to Cru, an organization she was feeling bitter about.
I biked about a mile home, exhausted from the day and as I reached the top of the stairs, I received a text from the roommate. “She’s going to be home within the hour.” Really?? I couldn’t have received this text earlier?
My adrenaline was pumping as I threw in coffee grinds into a cup full of cold water. I chugged it down and sped over to my friend’s place. On the way, my tire popped. I felt like the enemy was trying to discourage me from going to my friend. It was late, I was tired and cold, and he was making it more difficult for me to see my friend.
Long-story short, I met up with my much surprised friend. We chatted for a while, but for the first time, I felt uneasy speaking to her. I did not want to give off an air of judgment for what was going on in her life, just love. She spoke to fill the space between us and made it hard for me to talk to her. I took this as a sign that I was simply going to have to listen and that I had to shut up and let her speak her thoughts. She just needed someone to be there for her. To care for her and listen to her. So I did.
What my friend said confirmed what I already knew from our mutual friend. My dear friend was at a really good point in our life, performance-wise, but spiritually, she was at a low. She admitted this and admitted her pride. I was not going to sugarcoat anything, I was honest. I agreed that she had pride and shared with her a story from Acts that popped into my head (and had just read that morning).
And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands.
After talking to my friend until midnight, I started my trek home with my poor bike. Surprisingly, I left encouraged rather than sad about my friend’s low spiritual life. I felt encouraged because I know the qualities of God, which is that He is always loving, forgiving and chasing after His children. I know that in faith there are highs and lows and that if there were not trials and tribulations, we would not realize how much we needed God to help us get out of them. We would not be able to see how big God is and how He is able to overcome these insignificant problems. I also know that prayer is powerful. What I could do is pray to God for my friend. I know He answers them- in His own way, but He answers them. Like a roller coaster, it dives downwards, but it always takes us back up.
God, I thank You for always loving us and running after us. We stray from You but You are here with open arms. You hold nothing against us and simply love us. You forget our sins and You extend grace. I am so thankful for You. I pray that I may extend this type of love and grace upon my friend. I pray that she may realize how much she needs You in her life. That her performance will one day fail her and that her source of strength is You and not herself. Thank You for this friend.