By Haley Arndt
What’s up, what’s up y’all!
How’s life going? Because I know you are all wondering, here is a little life update about myself (I know that you weren’t actually wondering, but I like talking about myself): I am currently getting ready to GRADUATE in a few short months (whoop whoop!). I am pumped to graduate because at the end of May, I will be heading to either North Dakota or Florida to prepare my mind and spirit for the next chapter of my life, which is to be a college campus missionary with an organization called FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). Pray for me, for my future teammates, and for the students that I will be ministering to. But until then, I am soaking in as much time as I can with the friends that I have here at school and at home, cherishing the present moments with the people I love, snowshoeing with my priest, baking homemade bread, digging deeper in my spiritual life, and learning how to be a lumberjack (I’m taking a class this semester all about lumberjack sports and wellness, so catch me throwing axes in the near future).
Okay, moving on…
So I was chatting with Jesus, asking Him what I should write about this month, and I felt a tug on my heart to write about a prayer that I prayed during my sophomore year of college which had a significant impact on my life. And I think that many of us could benefit from praying about this necessary thing, but we just haven’t realized that we need to pray for it. And that prayer that I prayed was: “God, place authentic friends in my life that will help me strive towards You.”
And guess what, y’all. God provided. Big time.
If you read my blog from two months ago (and if you didn’t, I’m not salty about it… I promise), I talked about how my first year of college was a difficult season for a number of reasons, but one of the big reasons was that I wasn’t investing in a community that pushed me to the heights of heaven. I didn’t have people that challenged me to grow in virtue. I didn’t have a strive tribe. And because I didn’t build relationships that were founded on a love for Jesus, I struggled during my first year of college.
Now, I want to make one thing clear: having Christ-centered friends would not have filled the hole in my heart that I was yearning to complete a few years ago. God is the only One who can fulfill our deep desires and needs. We need our identity to be rooted in the fact that we know ourselves to be sons and daughters of the Almighty Father. You will not and can not be redeemed through your friends. But with that being said, God uses earthly means to bring us into deeper union with Him, and one of those means is through community. Virtuous, Christ-seeking community.
Why, though? Why do we need to surround ourselves with people who will push us towards God? Why can’t we just do our own thing, lovin’ Jesus, and still hang around our buds that we know are probs not actually helping us to glorify God in all that we do? Well, because we become most like the people we surround ourselves with. I’m going to repeat that for the people in the back: you become most like the people you surround yourself with. (I’m a psych major. I study this stuff. It’s a thing. #SocialInfluence.) Think about that. Now think about the closest people in your life. Where are their hearts at? Are their actions reflecting truth, beauty, and goodness? What about your life? If you are honest with yourself, I think you’ll see that the above statement is true. You really do act and behave like the community you build around yourself.
After I intentionally started to invest in my relationship with God, I knew that I needed to surround myself with people that were going to help me to get to heaven, not hinder me, while I was at school. So I prayed. I prayed that God would open my eyes and heart to see the people He was intentionally placing in my life who would encourage me and push me to greater depths in my faith life. And it didn’t happen the next day. In fact, it still took a few months after I poured my heart out to God until I knew He had heard and lovingly answered. But nonetheless, He answered in His way.
Y’all. Virtuous, authentic community is something that is necessary if our goal is eternal union with God (if that’s not your goal, then let’s have a chat). We need a support system. We need accountability. We need holy influences in our lives. Trust me, as for living without all of those things, I’ve been there and done that. Even the saints agree with the truth that I am droppin’ right now. If these quotes that I pulled off of the internet are indeed reliable, here are some things that two bomb saints may (or may not, who knows, the internet is sketch sometimes) have said about friendship:
“It is necessary to find those who will support us and need our support in promoting the devout life.”
-St. Francis de Sales
“God sends us friends to be our firm support in the whirlpool of struggle. In the company of friends we will find strength to attain our sublime ideals.”
-St. Maximilian Kolbe
Mmmm yeah, that is some GOOD stuff y’all. The saints know what’s up. They intentionally surrounded themselves with virtue-seeking buds because they knew how important it is to have people to walk with.
Well, if you’ve gotten this far in my blog, and if you already have a good, Christ-centered community in your life, then it was probs a waste of your time to read this far. But if you don’t have those people yet, pray for them. Ask our Father to place that necessary community in your life. Be bold. Pray for friends. If you wanna strive for sainthood, you are gonna need your strive tribe, your earthly saint squad. And God provides—we just need to do our part and actually talk to Him.
Alright, that’s all I got this month! Pray for friends. Pray for your friends. Pray with your friends.
I’m praying for an authentic, Christ-centered, saint-strivin’ community of friends to be present in your life. And you should do the same.
Side note: I would like to add that even though I was not intentionally seeking a Christ-centered community while I was in high school and in my first years of college, I did have some real good friends in my life that pushed me to be the best version of myself. If you are one of those friends reading this blog, thank you so much for your influence in my life. I love y’all!