College is a time when social groups really matter. In high school they mattered, but in college they matter just as much, if not more. Why? Because in college you are coming into the definition of your adult self. It’s not just about homework and the honor roll anymore, it is about becoming completely independent of others and moving into a life that is truly your own, an expression of your relationship with God as well as an expression of a specific message that God wants to send to the world through you. You actually have to focus on where you are going, and distractions could prove harmful to the plans that God has for you.
“The plans that God has for you” does not just mean going into some type of ministry or going to church every Sunday. It includes, but is not limited to, what kind of career He wants you to have, the spouse He wants you to marry, the connections he wants you to have. Really, God’s plan for you includes the deepest desires of your heart. The things that you really, really want, and are trying to obtain, but really need God to get. For example, love in your life, purpose, hope, joy, happiness, peace, strong relationships, etc. You cannot make those things happen in your life. You can try, being deceived that your “journey” is what it is all about, but really God gives you these things. Your friends can influence your ability to receive from God.
That friend who pressures you to go party when you know that you need to stay in, or that friend what makes you doubt yourself when you know in your heart who God has called you to be–Tehse are people who are not friends at all, but people that you need to detangle yourself from, and prayerfully so. The friends who are active in your life right now can help you get to where you need to be or can lead you astray. These people can impact your route to God’s best for your life.
Yes, popular culture capitalizes on the coming of age saga of college friendships as life long, anchoring relationships. Think of the romantic comedy of young adult friend groups who do life together some time after college. There is such glamour in being apart of a fly group. But popular culture doesn’t show you that sometimes the best path is to turn completely away from the wrong friends. It may not show you that sometimes the path to your success is to create great space and distance from people who are not going where you are going. It doesn’t show that perhaps some very close friends are not meant to continue with you for the long haul. Sometimes your good, and even best friends need to be given over to God, and you need to just stay focused. Popular culture has an agenda to make you think that you need to be in the in-crowd, and tolerant as well as yoked to ungodly lifestyles.
I could give you a list of toxic friend personality types, which would probably amuse you as you think about how people you know fit the stereotypes. But the truth is, you only need to say yes to Jesus in order to know how to navigate and whom you should maintain friendship with. God Himself speaks directly to His children. It is up to those who hear whether to listen and heed or not. You will feel it in your heart when God tells you not to join in, or to have that conversation, or to not cave in to pressure about watching that movie.
We could name the toxic friend personality types: The doubter, the joker, the manipulator, or the “cool but ungodly”–but they are all the same in that they lead you away from what God is telling you. They are tools of satan to make you stumble in your walk with God. If you find yourself always in precarious situations with them, RUN! If you find yourself ditching God for time with them on occasion, RUN! If you find you have to constantly explain yourself about your relationship with God, RUN! If you feel deep in your heart that your friend group is in competition with God, RUN! If you feel that you compromise your values to be their friends, RUN!
When saying yes to God means saying no to your current friends, know that your ending the friendship is the greatest expression of love to them. If love is the life and goal of all relationships, and God is the source of all love, then what kind of love could you bestow upon those whom God has called you to turn from? We fool ourselves in believing that disobeying God and being nice to friends with whom we have no business being friends is somehow better for them. Not so! The most we can do for another person is obey God concerning them.
Even so, it is possible that God has called you to befriend specific people who need Jesus. You will know because your relationship with them wil thrive off of your being obedient to God’s spirit, and you will be a positive influence on them, not the other way around.
Pray for godly friends.
If you don’t have godly friends, begin to pray to God for them. They are out there, and God will lead you to them. You are likely to find them at church, but you could also find them in many other spaces and places.
I hope you know that you are valuable to God, and that your friendships matter to Him beause He loves you and wants the best for you. You are worth having friends that bless you and support you in your walk with God.
No man is an island, and the Bible says that a friend sticks closer than a brother. You need people.
Prayer: Lord, give me the discernment to know who you have put in my life and who I have put in my life. Please allow me the courage to speak truth always, being honest about myself and others about my relationship with you. Please remove ungodly influences and please bless me with godly friends. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.