by Brittany, LCM Staff

Parents and mentors tell us that friendships in college often become lifelong connections. They usually follow it up with a story about that one particular event in college with a friend or a group of friends they’re still close with today. Whether they keep in touch regularly or only see each other once a year, the friendships we form in college continue to hold a meaningful place in our lives.

Though we come to college with different life experiences, academic interests, family histories, and hometowns, when we arrive on campus, we share the same community and the common experience of building a new life away from home. Forming friendships and connections is not always easy, regardless of your age. Just this year, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report on the epidemic of loneliness across all generations. Loneliness, it seems, has far-reaching physical impacts. According to the report, extended periods of loneliness are equivalent to smoking 18 cigarettes a day.

We know a lack of friendship and connection has a spiritual aspect, too. Poet David Whyte writes, “A diminishing circle of friends is the first terrible diagnostic of a life in deep trouble: of overwork, of too much emphasis on a professional identity, of forgetting who will be there when our armored personalities run into the inevitable natural disasters and vulnerabilities found in even the most average existence.” The spiritual life is not one designed for isolation. Even those who take vows of silence do so in community. Churches and campus ministry sites serve as places of community, connection, and support. Belonging isn’t just a tagline–it is the core of what we believe about how God calls us to be together. We weren’t designed to live this life alone but to share in the joys and hardships together.

Friendship is one expression of connection and community. Friendships are our first chosen relationships, and they’re formed at various periods in our lives and sometimes see us through a lifetime of changes. Whyte ends his thoughts on friendship with this beautiful reminder, “the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor the self: the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

As you navigate your college years, we hope you will continue building sustaining friendships on campus to celebrate and support you. We also hope you will remember that there is a place of belonging here at Lutheran Campus Ministry and a community of friends with you on the journey.