3 Ways The Enemy Tries To Hold Us Back From Celebrating With Friends
For many college graduates it can feel like the minute that you accept a diploma is the last minute that you see yourself as an equal with many of your peers. Before we graduate, we are all working towards a common goal: graduate, study hard to get good grades, or perhaps get into a particular club or group on campus. We are all running a race alongside one another, occasionally stopping to catch our breath or get a drink of water, but keeping the same pace next to each other. Our ultimate destination is a degree, and we cross the finish line together on graduation day.
But after college, it can start to feel like you and your friends are running on different paths. You may all have similar goals like wanting to get a great job, get into grad school, get married, have kids, etc. However, after college, as many people start to move away, start new paths, and make new plans, you might find yourself struggling to keep up with your college friends that were just a second ago running right beside you. Now, they may be several yards ahead, and as hard as you are striving, you just can’t catch them.
In my personal life I have felt this acutely in multiple areas. First, I had friends who got jobs almost effortlessly during our senior year of college, where it took me a long time with lots of tireless interviews and resume submissions to get my first big girl job. I have friends who didn’t have a “real boyfriend” in college, who were just as single as me and who loved to laugh at people posting sappy Instagram captions. Now they are finding boyfriends and becoming the sort of people who post those sappy captions.
Later on, it becomes what friend gets a promotion or raise first, who buys their first home, who gets married first. If you look at what the world wants you to accomplish in your 20s, it can leave you feeling out of breath and dangerously behind your peers. However, I think there is a deeper, richer approach to friendship than this ragged race of comparison and striving.
In the book of Ecclesiastes God talks a lot about friendship and timing. I think that many of us have heard the verse, “For everything, there is a season and a time for everything under the sun.”
But there are a couple key verses I would like to point out today that fall right under that memorable verse.
“There is time to be born and a time to die. A time to break down and a time to build up. A time to cast stones away and a time to gather them. A time to seek and a time to lose.” - Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 ESV
That might seem like a bunch of jumbled words, but at the core this verse is saying that we all have different seasons and different paths that God is taking us on in this life. One of my favorite podcasters, Stephanie May Wilson, says, “Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter ten.”
But unfortunately, I think that most of us waste parts of our days, and parts of our hearts, comparing ourselves to the people we love the most. So, how can we learn to celebrate and mourn with those we love?
If you are trying to lose weight, and you find yourself eating chips at 10:00 pm in your sweat pants every night, the answer is simple. Just stop buying the chips, and at 10:00 pm when you want chips there will be nothing for you to eat. The same is true when we start cultivating true celebration and companionship with those around us. If you know that there is a particular friend who posts too much about their engagement on Instagram, and you are feeling blue in your singleness, unfollow them or mute them for a season. If they ask you about this or notice, be open and honest with them about where your heart is at during this season.
Another example is that maybe every time you get together with a particular group of friends they only talk about their jobs. This seems like a normal conversation, but if you are struggling in your own job, don't be afraid to ask if you can change the subject.
Be careful with what you are consuming on social media from friends and influencers. If you are unmarried, don’t waste your time following every wedding blog or site you can find.
Likewise, if you feel guilty about not going to the gym, don’t let your screen be overflowing with fitness blogs. Sometimes protecting your heart means discriminating your consumption. If you are struggling with singleness, your job, your health, or anything else, don’t let it into your bedroom. Don't let it into the deepest parts of you first thing in the morning. Stop letting the enemy get inside your head.
It’s Not About You Anyway
When we are feeling insecure about something we haven’t accomplished yet, it can feel like our friends are rubbing salt in our wounds by talking about their success in that area. Part of being a good friend is not letting your emotions hinder you from celebrating with someone you care about. That can be really hard, but you can’t be moody or mean to the people who love you because you are having a bad day.
It’s not their fault that you see them as being ahead of you in life, just like it’s not your fault that you haven’t hit those perceived milestones yet. So be a supportive friend. Buy cute bridal shower and baby shower gifts when those exciting things happen to your friends. Scream on the phone with your best friend when she gets that promotion. Her success doesn’t threaten yours. There is plenty of room for all of us in the kingdom of God, in the marrieds club, and in any club you want to join. The enemy wants us to believe that there is only room for some of us to lead extraordinary lives, but in reality, we all have that capacity the day that we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Our friends may have gifts that we envy, but we also have gifts that they envy. Don't waste your days living like there is scarcity Open your eyes to the world of abundance God has for all us women who follow Him.
Know Who To Place Your Identity In
Your identity and self-worth can never come from how many likes your Instagram photo got, a shiny ring on your finger, or the amount of money you have saved up in the bank. All of that will fade into oblivion like the grass of the earth. Your identity is in something infinitely more precious. It is in the one true God of the universe. He has called you to make a difference for His kingdom right where you are, in whatever season you find yourself. When we put our identity in Him, we realize that He is the one who has been running beside us from the beginning.
He is the one who is keeping our pace, telling us when to slow down and when to sprint to the finish line. He never gets impatient, waiting for us as we have to take water breaks or stretch our aching muscles. Wherever we go, He is right there, keeping our pace and nudging us to move over when a twisted root or pothole makes an appearance. Placing our identity in Him is truly the only way we can mourn with those who mourn and celebrate with those who celebrate.
As human beings, we are selfish rotten creatures at our cores. We can see this so easily when we get envious of friends or start to feel like we deserve something that God has blessed one of our friends with before us. We can't truly love people the way that God loves us. But, by putting God at the center of our being and putting our worth in His word and what He says about us, we can treat others and love them the way He intended.
Editor’s Note: Struggling with figuring out your identity? We’re going through this topic in our small group this quarter and it’s not too late to join!
Wrapping It Up
Though I know that we were created for community, sometimes living in community can be hard. But, when we put our hope in God, realize her success isn’t a threat to ours, and stop throwing ourselves the pity parties we don’t deserve, true and beautiful relationships can be formed. Put your relationship with God first, and I guarantee that you will find His love overflowing into your friend's lives and into your heart as you are waiting during this difficult season.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel resides in Lancaster, Pa where she is a Digital Marketing Specialist. A recent graduate from Grove City College, Rachel hopes that her articles can help girls through hard times in college and also as they transition into the real world. In her spare time, you can find Rachel reading, hanging with her small group, exploring cute cafes, and longing for the ocean. You can find more of her writing at christiangirlcode.org!