If you’ve been following along for a while, you know I attended Auburn University for undergrad and loved it. A lot. But it didn’t start off that way.
When you go off to college and know no one, somehow you automatically make friends, have the best experience through sorority recruitment, have weekends packed with fun activities… or so I thought?
That’s not exactly how it started off for me.
My college experience started off more like I had 0 friends, had a horrible experience with sorority recruitment, had no plans on the weekends.
The start to college was a little rocky.
And I’ll be honest, I sulked in my misery for quite some time. A lot of my friends had gone off to college with some of our other friends, so at least they had each other. I thought maybe I had made a mistake.
I thought about transferring. I thought constantly about the what ifs. What if I had just gone to UGA, what if I had known girls during recruitment, what if I had just one really good friend…
And then one day I snapped out of it. It was around the time that I really started a relationship with the Lord. I had grown up knowing and believing Jesus was real, but there’s a difference in believing He’s real and having a true relationship.
When you’re alone in an unfamiliar city, you get real familiar with Jesus.
Anyway, as I began snapping out of my sulking I had an idea: what if every week I went out of my way and asked a stranger to get lunch with me?
I mean how else was I going to make friends? I could sit around and hope friends would find me or I could search for them myself.
So it began. My second semester of college almost every week I asked a stranger to lunch. It was kind of scary at first. And then it was really fun. Some lunch dates were awkward, some were hilarious and fun, and some turned into frequent hangouts throughout the semester.
Two of the girls I got lunch with second semester ended up being my senior year roommates.
I was a bridesmaid in one of my best friend’s weddings last summer. I’m a bridesmaid in another one of my best friend’s weddings in August. Started off as strangers at lunch but became a whole lot more to me.
I still am close friends with a handful of other girls I got lunch with that semester. And when I think about it now, what if I hadn’t stepped out and done that? A lot of my college experience would’ve looked pretty different.
As time passed, I felt like I had established a really solid group of friends. By the time my senior year rolled around, I almost felt complacent. I was extremely comfortable in my bubble of friends. And part of me missed that time of searching for friends.
Even though it was hard. Even though it was uncomfortable.
We see Jesus more clearly in the midst of an uncomfortable season. Or at least I have. When I’m comfortable, I don’t feel as compelled to thank God for what and who I have and I forget what it took to get to that moment.
Even when we feel like our feet are on solid ground, someone around us probably doesn’t feel that way. We don’t see it because the façade of social media tells us otherwise, but there are people around us that are lonely.
Will you be willing to ask a stranger to lunch?
Everyone wants to feel known, and as followers of Jesus we want to love people in a way so they feel known by Him.
Now that businesses and restaurants and churches are beginning to open back up, people are beginning to get out more. After months of being quarantined, we all have a little glimpse of loneliness whether we felt that way before COVID-19 or not.
So, let’s step out together and be brave and get to know new people. Let’s invite them in to our circles.
And maybe you’ll be nothing more than acquaintances. Or maybe they’ll become an important part of your story.
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