Faithful Friends

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As a twenty-one years old, I could learn a lot from kindergartener Nolie. Back then, I grasped the fact that sometimes I had to share my favorite toy with my friend because my friend was worth that. Somewhere along the way between my five year old counterpart and the junior in college, the concept of sacrificing for my friends became more difficult. Most of the time I know exactly how to be a good friend, but ultimately, being someone's friend proves inconvenient. 

Up until recently, I believed that my friends should enrich my life, and I think a lot of us think that. It's true. No one wants or needs abusive and negative relationships in their life, but if we expect our friends to contribute positively to our lives, a problem arises. That belief represents only half of the equation that equals friendship. 

I know that seems obvious, but many of us operate from a Berkeleyan mindset, meaning that we act as if everyone in the world exists within our own mind and that we can only be assured of our own existence. When phrased like that, it sounds extreme, but humans have a reason for doing this.  After all, we can only experience life from our individual perspectives, and while we may empathize with each other, we can never truly understand someone else's experience. This leads to many of us forgetting that other minds exists outside of ours - minds with unique thoughts, experiences, feelings, and needs. Once we forget this, we begin to expect too much of the people that fill our lives. 

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As Christians though, we've been given an example of how to set aside this mindset. There was never a better friend than Jesus, and that's because He was willing to make sacrifices, ultimately laying down his life for us. 

Blessèdness - not only in a face
But in the air surrounding everybody,
The charged air that makes me see a body
As blessed just because it has a face...
’Rejoice’ I want to say. ‘You are yourself.’
And the mask of meanness turns aside and winces.
— Mark Jarman
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Sometimes friendship will mean laying aside your personal wants and needs to sacrificially give yourself in order to meet your friend's needs. Doing that is not easy. You will be a bad friend sometimes, but if we can remember the example of our Savior and see our friends for what they are, Sons and Daughters of the Creator, then making a sacrifice becomes a sweet rather than bitter experience. 

Nolie, the friend-in-training

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