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As I’ve transitioned into the new “adult” phase of my life, there is one thing that I and several of my peers have come to realize, and that is relationships are hard.

Right now, I’m talking about friendships. It seems true that as one gets older, their inner circle becomes smaller.

As a child, it wasn’t hard coming up with upwards of 20 or so people to invite to a birthday party or some sort of special event. In grade school, that circle became smaller as all of us began to express interest in different activities, sports, hobbies and other things.

In high school, again the circle shrunk. My core group of friends numbered at about six or so, if I’m remembering correctly. Then everyone graduates and goes to college or enters the workforce or military, and again the circle shrinks.

By the time college comes around you’ve either made new friends that you met at college or you can call yourself fortunate enough to have some of the same friends from your inner group in high school.

As I’ve grown, I’ve seen my circle become smaller and smaller. There are many reasons for this. Time, distance, growing out of different relationships if you will, but friendship is always something I recommend to our college students at church to handle with extreme care.

It’s true, for all stages of life, that you become like the people with which you spend your time. This is where being selective is hard, but necessary.

College can be a period in your life full of memories and fun for some, but for others, this time in their life might be plagued by loneliness. In my case, getting plugged into the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) at my school was one of the best things that could have happened to me.

My best friend and I transferred to the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) our second year in college and immediately sought out the BCM. It was there that we found community with fellow believers, grew in our knowledge and relationship with God and of the Bible. We were able to find a local church home through recommendations of BCM peers and made friends and memories that I’ll cherish forever.

What a difference it makes in such a stressful time of life to have a group of people who love you and are there for you, whether that is to distract you from the troubles of college, or to push you towards your earthly goals, focused on Christ and eternity all the while.

Community is important. Finding a place where you “belong” is a common struggle among college students. This was where I felt I belonged, among a body of believers who loved me and pushed me to be my best.

It might not be the BCM for you. Maybe you are super involved in your church home, to which I say, BRAVO! My husband and I always tell the college students in our college ministry at church that they should be involved in an on campus ministry as well as a church family. Each organization will fill different needs and have its own pace in your life as a busy college student.

The relationships you make in these different instances and the level of importance in your life however is totally in your hands.

Cultivating relationships only gets harder the older you get. You have to be extremely intentional to plan time to spend with someone and grow specific relationships. It might be hard at times, and you may just wish you could sit at home and be alone, but I have never once regretted meeting with friends to talk about Jesus and life. I always come away from our meetings with my cup and heart full.

I encourage all college students to engage in discipleship-type relationships. This can mean you are actively discipling someone who is either younger than you or newer in their faith in Jesus than you, but it is equally important that students have someone who is discipling them.

I am not so far removed from college that I have forgotten how hard or stressful it can be. Having someone to ask for advice and someone who is wiser than you is imperative in the Christian faith.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

You won’t ever regret pouring time into a person and seeing them grow in Christ. The same can be said for finding someone who is wise and learning about life from them.

Take relationships seriously and cultivate ones that matter, because as your circle gets smaller, the body of Christ is waiting with open arms.