By Kaitlyn Hogg
My friends mean the world to me. The Bible describes friendships as a “sturdy shelter” (Sirach 6:14), and I would not be the woman I am today without the sturdy shelter of my friends. They support me, love me, comfort me, encourage me to be virtuous, and care for me. Whether it is having a spa night and watching movies, or having deep late-night talks and singing praise and worship, my friends are always there for me. But this wasn’t always the case, for my friendships as well as my romantic relationships.
In high school, I always struggled with the sense of belonging. This need to fit in blocked me from putting Christ at the center of my relationships and friendships. Once we were not convenient to each other, these relationships and friendships ended. This is because we did not have the sturdy shelter of Christ at the center.
This cycle followed me to college. I remember my first year of college, I ran with the wrong crowd. I surrounded myself with selfish people who used others and did not lead others towards Christ. I began to distance myself from good people and things in my life. I was also dating someone at the time who did not encourage me to be virtuous. Because I was hanging out with friends who were selfish and used other people, I also could be selfish with my significant other, and we used each other because both of us had friends that didn’t encourage us to be virtuous. After we broke up, I felt like I had no one on campus to turn to. My whole freshman year I spent my time just with my boyfriend and his friends that I lost sight of having my own. This made me very sad, but my best friend back home became a sturdy shelter for me.
This friend found joy in her faith and encouraged me to turn more to God. She called me away from my bad habits and encouraged me to pray more and put God at the center. Once I did this, it opened the door for more fruitful friends in my life. God has given me amazing friends who are kind, selfless, and giving. We do not use each other, but selflessly love one another. This also helps me to be kind, selfless, and giving in my current romantic relationship, which should also be a type of friendship where you know, like, and trust them.
The Bible says:
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that finds one finds a treasure. There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend, and no scales measure his excellence. A faithful friend is an elixir of life; and those who fear the Lord will find him. Whoever fears the Lord directs his friendship aright, for as he is, so is his neighbor also.Sirach 6:14-17
A shelter is somewhere you go for comfort, warmth, and peace from a storm. Your virtuous friends will comfort you when you are hurting, love you through good times and bad, and will uplift you and give you peace. A romantic relationship should do the same. This person should be your best friend, someone who is a sturdy shelter for you—a friendship in which you not only have fun and share exciting memories together, but also encourage each other to be virtuous and do what is good. No one is perfect, but a good friend will lead you into a virtuous lifestyle and want what is best for you. A good friend will always uplift you, support you, and help you strive to be the best version of yourself. They will encourage you towards what is good and discourage you from what is bad.
You will become the most like those people whom you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with selfish people and encourage a cycle of use, this is a weak shelter with no support, and it will crash and burn. If you surround yourself with selfless and good people who want what is best for you, this is a sturdy shelter for the storms of life.
Also, do not lose sight of your friends when you are in a relationship, like I did my freshman year of college. A good significant other will understand how important friends are. A virtuous relationship and friendship are Christ-centered. As you enter a romantic relationship, do not lose the sturdy shelter of your friends, and most importantly do not lose your friendship with Christ. Focus on Christ and your virtuous friendships so you can be a virtuous friend to your significant other. You will find that your relationship with Christ and your friends will make you a sturdy shelter to your significant other, and in return, they should be a sturdy shelter for you.