First semester is over and a lot happened. You've all completed a semester of college, you've finished a football season with the Dawgs, you've started to learn your way around campus (maybe), and Athens is hopefully feeling a little bit more like home. You probably met a lot of people last semester and some of those people probably have become your friends.

Or maybe that's not the case. It could be that so far in college, you've gotten hurt by friends, or haven't clicked with the people you've met, or haven't had the courage to meet people at all yet. It's easy to look around and see groups start to form and think I've missed it. 

But that's not true. You haven't missed it, you won't miss it. It's not too late for community for you. You're not the exception. 

What's Holding You Back?

A lot of times, there may be some things preventing community in your life from taking hold. While these aren't always the case, there are a few I want to talk to you about today:

1. It's a Two Way Street

Before you ever start to think about building community, you have to realize that it isn't all about you. It does matter that you have people in your life who love you, but they won't always do that well and it's important that you still know how to be a good friend during those times. You have very unique qualities that matter, and you get to use those qualities and skills to be good to the people in your life. It's really fun!

2. You'll Have to Learn to Forgive

Building real community means putting yourself out there. It means risking rejection even if it's unintentional. Getting really hurt by people isn't as effective if you expect it to happen. I don't mean expect that worst from people, that's the opposite of what I would tell you. But expect mistakes and unintentional rejection because you're dealing with human beings. At some point, no matter how perfect your friendship may be, you'll hurt each other. And this is normally a pivotal moment for the friendship - do you harbor bitterness and move on to another friend or do you fight for the friendship by talking about what's going on and actually trying to make things better.

3. It Looks Different for Everyone

We're all wired differently which means what's good and right for you will look different for what's good and right for someone else. Having a best friend that you can post pictures with and do everything with might work for some people, but don't try to force that on your friendship if that doesn't make sense. It's tempting to try to replicate what you think a friendship is supposed to look like to be the real thing, but true friendship is specific and knows the needs and wants of the other person, it doesn't place expectations of what others' friendships look like on this friendship. 

4. You Can Start at Anytime

You're not late to the party. I promise you people will change friends dozens of times before college is over and that's okay. It's important to find people that make sense in your life, not just people who you think can do something for you. When I've done it right, I've looked for people who I think have really good hearts that I would want to learn from and I attempt to be friends with them. It's easy for me to fight for these people with all I have because I see something wonderful in them that's worth protecting and fighting for. 

5. Don't Get Discouraged

I can't say it enough, you haven't missed it and you won't miss it. Don't get discouraged if you haven't found who your people are yet. Don't get discouraged if you thought you found them, but then something changed. Don't get discouraged if you've gotten hurt by people. Don't get discouraged if you don't see anyone around you that you think could be your best friend yet. Pray and put yourself out there. It will happen. The Lord does not want you to be alone, but He does want you to be the type of person who can handle the really good friendships He plans to place in your life.

- Michele Houston

The main way we like to help freshmen build community is through our Freshley small groups that meet on Monday nights after the service at 8pm at 1196 South Lumpkin Street. Come join us!