“Choose Your Friends, Don’t Let Them Choose You!”
Sisters, meet Franchelle, a former SSU and Law graduate!
Today, in our conversation, we want to learn more about how to choose friendships in college. A brother-in-Christ once prayed for his college children by saying: “Father God, please help my children choose their friends, but don’t let their friends choose them!” What a powerful statement! Psalm 1 warns about the danger of associating with certain groups of people to the detriment of our relationship with God. Let’s dig into this area.
What is your understanding of the phrase “Choose your friends, don’t let them choose you”
It is a great phrase actually, I have never heard that before! I believe it means that we should have discernment when it comes to which person we should associate ourselves with. We cannot let pressure or trends dictate the type of friendships we should be in. In a sense, we must be in charge of whom we talk to instead of being told so.
From your experience in university, did you think it was a big issue to beware of certain friendships?
In my school residence, yes, I was absolutely intentional not to associate myself with certain girls due to their life choices. In class, I mostly had decent people around me so there were no worries there.
Did you ‘choose your friends’ or did they ‘choose you’?
At the time, I wasn’t consciously thinking “oh I’m going to choose this person over another one as my friend.” I befriended everyone as much as I could whether they were poor, nice, Muslim, gay, or etc. The only time I would distance myself from someone was if I noticed that the person was a threat to my faith, e.g. if a person was verbally aggressive to me, displayed arrogance, or was insolent towards over people. I had people befriending me but at the end of the day, feeling ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ with them determined the terms of our friendship. So I would say that I chose my friends.
Do you have examples of going through an unhealthy friendship? What lessons did you learn from that?
Yes, I remember I had befriended this girl from my student club. At the beginning, she was very nice to me, we used to spend time together in school. Then, when our club organized a major event on campus, I started noticing the change in her demeanor. Being the event coordinator, she was very bossy and dominant towards everyone. She would publicly disrespect all of us, it was her way-or-the-highway type of situation. I remember I used to shake and my heart used to beat very fast when she would shout at me or rebuke me. At that point I realized that I would not let this girl dominate over me and especially that I would not allow her scare me because I should fear only God not men. I waited till the end of the event, then I had to separate from her. I learnt through that experience that as a Christian student I need to impact others for Christ and not let the world impact me with their morals.
On campus, there are students coming from different backgrounds (religion, lifestyle, sexual orientation, etc.). Did this impact your decision to befriend them?Not at all. As stated earlier, I never backed up from talking or befriending someone because their background was different than mine. Jesus, Himself, befriended tax collectors, Samaritans, and lepers; who am I to act differently? Jesus showed that we can befriend different types of people but we must beware not to associate ourselves with their lifestyles.
Some think that in order to stay grounded in the faith at school, you need to just surround yourself with Christian friends, how were you able to befriend people from different backgrounds without following their paths?
I can give you an example, on campus I had a Muslim classmate that I befriended and we used to hang out together because we were both freshmen and had similar backgrounds. She never pressured me to accept Islam neither did I pressure her to accept Christianity; what united us was our common past experiences and the fact that we were attending university as first-year students. That’s what our friendship was based on. I felt very safe being her friend as she never behaved indecently or rudely towards me. Associating with people from different backgrounds should never be an issue for a Christian student, however, when the friendship becomes a threat to our faith, that’s when we should begin to step back.
Any advice for SSU?
A child of God should be known as someone who is open and willing to befriend anyone regardless of their background. Don’t draw your ‘Christian bubble’ where no one can enter but your Christian friends. However, be sober and vigilant just like Jesus was. He was a friend to sinners but never indulged in their sins, instead He showed them the way to life. Sometimes, the Lord will allow you to be surrounded by only non-Christian friends so you can be the light in their darkness. They may not convert to Christianity but at least through you, they can witness the love of Christ and see what it is to be a child of the Living God.