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“Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize, it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.” This is how Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes friendship in his well-known book, Life Together.
New Life members Meredith Meador and April Graves can testify to the gift of friendship that the Lord gives. Meredith reflects, “After my first year of school I did not have many friends, so I prayed specifically for the Lord to give me one godly friendship with another girl that could encourage me.”
Several months after praying for this, Meredith was at New Life’s first annual College Kick-Off Night where she remembers meeting many other college students who were part of the church. A few weeks later, outside of one of her classes, Meredith recalls, “A girl I didn’t know came up to me and asked if I went to New Life. She introduced herself and told me that we had met at the College Kick-Off Night. I honestly did not remember her at all.” That girl was April Graves.
Gradually Meredith and April became friends as they discovered they had several classes together and began spending more time with one another. Meredith remembers April’s intentionality in asking questions being something that sparked the friendship. Author Christine Hoover writes of this type of intentionality in her book Messy Beautiful Friendship: “Friendship is mutual; it’s a back-and-forth thing like the tennis match. A true friend doesn’t just want to be known. A friend also wants to know.” April attributes her ability to ask meaningful questions to
Today, more than a year after their initial meeting, Meredith and April are roommates and can be found together most of the time, whether serving in the preschool, chatting before and after services, or inviting people into their shared home. Despite not remembering their first introduction Meredith expresses gratitude for the friendship that has developed.
“When April came along it was such an answered prayer,” Meredith said. “I’ve been able to think back and thank the Lord for providing this friendship. He meets all of our needs.”
For Meredith and April, their friendship has allowed them to support each other as instructed in Hebrews 10:24, which states, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds.” Through new experiences and transitions, each girl has been able to encourage the other, and both have grown in their vulnerability to honestly share about their days.
Meredith’s advice on friendships is to consistently pray, asking the Lord to provide new friendships as well as for help to grow and nurture existing friendships. Likewise, April encourages others Christians to cultivate meaningful friendships within the church by allowing time each week for attending Life Group to connect with others, as well as by coming early or staying late at Sunday morning services in order to meet new people. As exemplified in Meredith and April’s friendship, we will not be able to participate in friendship unless we take a chance to introduce ourselves or to say yes to another’s invitation.
Because friendship is a gift from God, we have a choice of how and if we receive it. In her book, Christine Hoover exhorts believers to not miss out on the gift of friendship:
“God has given us friends. He has given us the church. He has given us relationships for fun and for sanctification and to help us live wise lives. The gifts are all around us if we have eyes to see and savor them.”