Made For Community

There’s something about a familiar song that speaks to the heart at just the right time. I was reminded of the song “Brother” by Needtobreathe one morning this summer while listening to Christian radio. Hearing the inspirational lyrics transported me back to my final year of high school when I had listened to the song over and over again during passing time between classes. Hitting repeat became second nature as the echoing message of fellowship settled in the places of my heart that had felt wounded by past friendships. Even hearing the song a full year later for what may have been the 100th time stirred up memories of feeling ready to meet new friends of faith, joy, and kindness at university. I had not known during those mini jam sessions in high school just how many beautiful souls I would encounter at university and how their authenticity would draw me closer to our Lord.

A loving community of sisters and brothers in Christ can be difficult to find, but no matter what stage of life you enter, community is a transformative spiritual and physical support. Having someone to swoon over Pam Beesly and Jim Halpert’s relationship with or delve into deep philosophical conversations over coffee is much needed during a hectic school year. Having a mass and adoration buddy to visit JC? The best. Here are some of the things that have helped me find and cultivate genuine friendships in university:

1.      Introduce yourself. It seems simple enough, but especially in your first year of university, simply introducing yourself to someone you sit next to in class could lead to a solid friendship. I met one of my good friends in a Cinema Studies class last year. We started talking and after hanging out we realized we were both Christian and our friendship has been growing ever since.

2.      Go to club-fairs. Even if your school doesn’t have a club fair, check out the club listing on their website. I met a lot of my friends from clubs, even clubs I stopped attending halfway through the year when things got busy. Just going to the first meeting of a club could open the door to a solid friendship built upon a common interest.

3.      Visit the Newman Centre. Many universities have Catholic Newman Centres on campus. Here you can meet like-minded peers and study, join faith/bible studies, participate in prayer groups, and receive the sacraments alongside fellow students.  

4.      Know you are enough. No one clicks with every new person they meet. Sometimes it takes time, other times they are just not the right crowd. When dueling personalities arise, potentially disheartening encounters can ensue. The Lord loves each of us for our individualities. You may feel like someone doesn’t value your personality or take the time to understand you, but do not be discouraged. Ask the Lord to lead you to new friends who will encourage and uplift you. (They are out there; I promise).   

5.      Remember that it takes time. Community is a necessary and revitalizing thing, but relationships build and become stronger over time. Friendships take love and communication, work that is not easy, especially amidst piling papers and exams. Allow your friendships to grow at their own pace.

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”

– 1 Peter 3:8-9