Spring is probably my favorite time of year. The smells. The breezes. The colors of all things new, blooming beautifully. I feel like my heart bursts into bloom along with the azaleas after a long, cold winter.
This time of year also means graduation is drawing near. For the college seniors in my life, the other thing blooming is stress about the future. There is fear about what comes next but also fear of leaving behind some of the best years of life.
One of the biggest fears I had about moving on from my college experience was losing the closeness I felt with my college friends. College is a time of life like no other; friendships are made and cemented in four short years. It’s scary to think about moving away from friends who you spend your days and evenings with. It’s easy to feel unanchored and adrift without the security blanket of college friends to keep you warm in the adult world that can be cold and unfriendly.
I would not call myself an expert on friendship. But, I do still have the same best friend from college, and remaining friends with someone for that long has taught me some valuable friendship lessons. If college graduation is getting ready to separate you from your favorite people, here are some helpful things to remember.
- Conflict doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship. I have always been terrified of confrontation. But, I’ve learned that if you can summon the courage to say hard things (“You hurt my feelings when you said this” or “It upset me when you didn’t do that”), your friendships will most often emerge stronger on the other side. Rather than signaling the end, dealing with conflict in friendships usually makes you closer.
- Just because you’re apart geographically doesn’t mean your hearts can’t stay close. Long-distance friendships aren’t easy, but if you’re both committed, it can be so sweet. Phone calls, FaceTime, and texting make the world feel small—even if you’re far apart. You can even set aside time each week to visit and pray together. Nothing binds hearts quite like praying together.
- Give your friendship room to ebb and flow. No relationship is static; it grows and evolves over time. What has meant the most to me in my friendship with my longtime best friend is that she has stuck close through hard seasons. She lets me be needy and doesn’t complain; in fact, that is usually a signal for her to press in closer—and I do the same for her. All friendships go through seasons where you feel closer and seasons where you don’t feel as close, but that doesn’t mean you should quit on each other. It’s like the ocean’s tide: it may go out, but it always comes back in.
- Be faithful to one another; nothing kills a friendship quicker than indifference. We make a big deal about fidelity within marriage (rightfully so), but being a faithful friend is a quality that is sadly underappreciated. If you make plans, don’t be flaky and cancel if something else comes along. Celebrate birthdays. Remember big events. Check in on each other. Pray for each other. Be the kind of friend you want others to be.
There isn’t much in life as precious as having a deep, heartfelt connection with a confidant, and there is nothing quite like a friendship built on a common love of Jesus. He is a strong foundation on which to build a lifelong bond. One of Jesus’ best qualities is that He holds on to us, even when we’re struggling. I hope to be that kind of faithful friend.
Corley Shumaker serves as Assistant Campus Minister at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Arkansas State University. She loves Red Wolves football, nail polish, and flowers. You can find her on Twitter at @corleycline.