Not too long ago, I was struggling with making good friends. Let me rephrase that. I was struggling with making friends, and in turn, settled for not-so-good friendships. At the time, I had no idea just how much these so-called “friendships” were affecting my own actions and the state of my soul.
The New Kid
When I was in eighth grade, I was yet again the “new kid” at my school. This wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t so nerdy and easy to pick on. I was awkward, had a weird hair cut, wasn’t really pretty (meaning, of course, that I didn’t really wear makeup), wore clothes that weren’t really “in style” but were overtly Christian. Oh, and this was my first time attending a public school. I knew one person who went to this school, but our friendship quickly died because she was so much more popular than me, and I simply couldn’t keep up with that group.
If anyone had met me during that time, they would have no reason to believe I was a Christian.
I was an outcast, and I was an extrovert. In case you don’t know, these things do not mix well. I searched high and low for anyone who would give me attention – and I found it. Of course, I found it in all the wrong places, but that didn’t matter to me; I was just looking for someone to love me. This led me to some really bad friendships. I was abused, physically and emotionally, forced to do and say things that I had no desire to, and I slowly became someone I had never known before. If anyone had met me during that time, they would have no reason to believe I was a Christian.
It was quite clear to my brother that I was not who I was made to be, and my parents also quickly caught on. The following year, I was moved back to private school, where I had the freedom to express my beliefs, and I was not afraid to, either. I started to make other friends. These friends were different, and in a lot of ways, they built me up. Something, however, still was not completely right. I still wasn’t who I was really made to be, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I fought with my parents all the time, and I threw myself into extracurriculars. Weekends were spent trying to get away with whatever I could, and I thought that all of that would fulfill me. My friends encouraged all of that too, which made it harder not to believe that those things would complete me. Still, there was an emptiness.
You will do what your friends do. You will follow their advice, you will want to be like them.
When I moved to college, I tried to bring all of those things with me – the relationships, the friendships, the lifestyle. And it worked for a while. I was free from the reign of my parents, so I could do whatever I wanted. I just knew that would make me truly happy. Slowly all of those things faded away – the friendships, the relationships, the lifestyle. I was so lonely.
I wasn’t prepared for this. I was faced with a choice. Keep up the pattern I had my whole life, or try something new. I wrestled with this decision for almost a year. Finally, I poured myself into Christ, because He was all I had left. I was never happier. I spent all of my time with Him, and trusted Him with everything. Things just fell into place. School, my job, my prayer life, everything. That’s when I started asking Him for friends. Good friends that would lead me closer to Him. Almost immediately, someone came into my life. She shared my faith, understood my struggles, wanted what was best for my soul, and was open to my friendship. She encourages me to pray. And, she is even willing to wake me up early to make sure I get it done. She looks out not only for my interests, but the betterment of my soul.
Finally, I poured myself into Christ, because He was all I had left.
Why Are Your Friends Important For Your Soul?
So why are your friends important for your soul? Because, you will do what your friends do. You will follow their advice, you will want to be like them. This is what friends are for, to help lead us in a different way than our parents or siblings. So if your friends are leading you down a path that steers away from a life with Christ, then you will most likely go down that path. Those that are following Christ are going to lead you closer to Him. Those that are following the world are going to lead you away from Him.
My encouragement for you is to stay strong. Choose friends who will lead you closer to Christ, and witness Christ to those who are trying to lead you astray. “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that has found one has found a treasure” (Sirach 6:14).