By Jenny Godwin
Have you ever heard the phrase, “you are the company you keep?” Think on that for a second; it is deep. The people you spend your time with cast a reflection on you. It is not always an accurate one, but it still happens. As we all grow up, we meet various people from all walks of life, and our personalities are shifted, if even just a little bit.
Our attitudes can improve or become sour, and let’s face it, when people find out who you spend your time with, that impacts their thoughts on who you are as a person. Is that fair? No, but neither is life. We are supposed to be kind to all others, but your closest community or tribe should be people you can trust and respect and that reciprocate that as well.
Middle School is hard and to be completely honest, I would not go back for anything. There are new types of challenges mixed in with way too much access to the Internet and social media. If you are currently in middle school, I hope you know you are deeply loved and prayed for. I mean that. In the moment, it probably feels like those people are going to be your friends for the rest of your lives and some might very well be. However, that does not have to be the case.
For me, I did not have a ton of SUPER close friends until college. I found it hard to trust people, but those years of hoping to find friendships that I would hear Christian leaders refer to finally paid off. I actually still have a letter from my sister (one of my all-time favorite heroes) years back that talked about her prayer for me to find good, Godly friends who would love me well. Her prayers were answered, but at times, I had wondered if they ever would be.
For all those years of thinking I would never find someone that I could trust and that would support and hold me accountable in my walk with Christ, I’ve been abundantly blessed. Y’all, I mean ABUNDANTLY! Through various moves, churches, and just life interactions, there are multiple groups of friends I get to walk through this journey with. All of those friendships involve laughter, communication, transparency, venting (yes, the occasional tantrum), accountability, and Jesus. I don’t say that to brag or to let you think I’ve got it figured out because I do not.
I just know good (Godly) things are worth waiting on.
Who are your closest friends that you can talk to about ANYTHING? Who do you go to when you are mad at your parents or teachers? What about when you have made a mistake and need to talk about it? For many middle school students the answer is their friends. I get that. I did that. I even continued that through high school and early college. It just makes sense to do that, right? Not necessarily.
Look at your circles of friends to see who influences you for the better.
Those people you are desperate to be close with, are they good for you? Or are they just considered popular? If it’s the second option, don’t pine for their approval or inclusion. It won’t be worth it.
"The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray." -Proverbs 12:26
I kept a lot of my poor choices as a secret of sorts because I did not want to disappoint people. Most of those I confided in only encouraged me to continue making those same poor choices and that only led me to more heartbreak and shame.
Your friends are to push you towards holiness, not happiness.
You can still have fun striving for things of good character, I promise. You are worth accountability and worth having good friends. Be that friend to others, and you will be amazed at those you will come in contact with down the road.
"Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character." -1 Corinthians 15:33
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17
"Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm." -Proverbs 13:20
As Jesus teaches, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you." -John 13:34-35