Starting school has always been one of the most challenging things I do each year, because I usually have to find a new friend group. Growing up, my family moved around a ton. There were only a few years where I started the school year at the same school that I had finished the previous one. I often became jealous of the people who went to school in one place, that lived in one place their whole lives. They always had friends. Meeting up for the first day of school always seemed fun because you got to see the friends you hadn’t seen all summer! I loved hearing the chatter of friends, but also hated it because it didn’t ever happen with me. I’m not complaining about my childhood. I wouldn’t do it any other way and loved moving around a lot. There were days, however, like the first few weeks of school that were incredibly hard – because I wasn’t really friends with anyone.
Making friends is hard for me. Especially because I like having a few really close friends instead of having lots of friends. Both options, having lots of friends or a few really deep friendships, are good. I like having just a few really close friends because I can share my life with them in a different way than I can share my life with many friends. On the other hand, when those few friends are out of town, or busy, or moved – I don’t have as many to be with, so having lots of friends is good. Balance. That is what life is about. So normally, I have a few really good friends, the type that will last no matter where we are, and a few who I’d like to become better friends with. That’s where I’ve found my balance. For you it is probably different.
Friendship has been on my mind a lot recently. School is starting. It is a new year and for me, that means a new set of friends. A lot of my friends are now moving away or have moved away to go to a different school. I’ll definitely be keeping the ones that I have, but I know that I’ll need to branch out and make some new friends. And after 20 years of life – that is still scary. What if they don’t like me? What if I say something mean about something they really like? What if I do something that bugs them and I don’t know about it? What if they don’t want to be as good of friends as I want to be? What if it turns into a one-sided friendship? A friendship where one person kinda dumps their life on the other person. The second person being weighed down with everything and never being able to express themselves? So many what-ifs. And then I have to remember.
What do I remember? Let’s see if you can remember. Think of your best friends. Who are they? Do you have their names? Can you hear their voice or see them? When was the last time you laughed together? What do you do together? I know who mine are. Think of your list. A sacrament speaker did this activity with the congregation on Sunday. One of the men speaking talked about friendship. He asked us all to take a minute and think about our three best friends. I had my list (1) Elizabeth, (2) Cherie, and (3) Melissa. But then I thought “Oh, I forgot someone. Well, I didn’t forget him – but he isn’t my best friend and I want him to be. Shoot, I need to change that.” Who is He? His name is Jesus Christ. Right after that thought came into my head, the speaker continued. He said “Chances are that your best friends are people you spend a lot of time with. People who know you really well. People like a childhood friend, a roommate, or a parent. People who have lived through your experiences and know you. Most of you, most of you have probably forgotten one person on the list. And for good reason – he isn’t your best friend yet. His name? Jesus Christ.”
The rest of his talk was thought provoking. But that stood out just a little bit more. I thought “How many times have I been a one-sided friend to the Savior? How many times have I prayed for help, without telling Him all the good in my life? How many times have I prayed and not listened to His response?” The answer? A LOT. The Savior has been there for me through it all. Through my downfalls. Through my personal struggles and while I’ve watched others struggle. He has, however, also been through my joy-filled moments. Through laughter and success. He has lifted me in times of need, but also in times of joy. He has loved me through all my mistakes. and He still does. Have I listened to His counsel? Have I shown Him the respect He deserves? Have I lifted His burdens, my brothers and sisters, when given the chance? Have I been a friend to Him as well? There are moments that I have been – those are many. But there are moments when I could have done better. Where I have turned away and chosen to be better friends with someone else. And while it isn’t okay, it is. It only is, though, when I am trying to be a better friend to Him.
As I left sacrament meeting yesterday, I thought to myself just a little more. This school year will be hard. It will be doable by myself. But it will be better doing it with the man who will hopefully become my best friend. He knows things that I don’t know and that I won’t be able to know unless He tells me and I listen. He’ll be there for me in my weaknesses and He’ll laugh with me as I laugh. So, going back to school isn’t going to be that bad. Because I’ll have Him. And He’ll help me make friends that I can see and hug. Friends that are able to bowling with me or make dinner with me. But best of all, He isn’t going anywhere. Like every friendship, ours will take, and has taken, time to develop. However, it is set apart from the others because it will only end when I choose to end it (and I hope not to). A New Era address given in 1988 states:
No matter what life brings, the Savior always remains our loving friend. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, ‘We are the spirit offspring of our Father in heaven, and in His infinite wisdom He has provided His Only Begotten Son – in the flesh, our elder brother and friend, Jesus – to lead us back home.’ His friendship brings so much to our lives. He is God the Son, our Elder Brother. His words, his life, and his Atonement provide a clear course that will guide us back to our Father’s safe harbor, to true peace and joy. The course of safety becomes clearer as we align our friendship and love more completely with His. So the key question for you and me is, ‘How can I be a true friend of the Savior?'”
In these coming weeks (and years actually) I’ll be focusing on building relationships. Both with my Savior, but also with those around you. Friends are so important. They make life so much happier. And we are truly never alone – because we’ve got him.
The New Era address has many good tips for eternal friendships. If you are interested you can find it here. It is definitely worth studying.
What are you doing to be a true friend of the Savior? of those around you?