“It will be great for you!” my mom said. “You’ll meet new people!”
“I like the people I already know,” I replied, with just a note of sarcasm.
Looking back at my lack of interest in making friends when I started college, the irony is palpable. At seventeen, I could count my close friends on one hand with two fingers still folded under and, frankly, I was skeptical that IUPUI would provide anyone I cared to know.
(Let’s just establish that seventeen-year-old me was neither a very sociable nor a very wise person.)
Fortunately, that attitude changed. As I sat in classes and attended campus events because my mother wanted me to, I realized there were people I cared to know here. There were a lot with whom I didn’t share interests or values, but then there were some who loved Jesus or loved the same things I did. There were even a few that seemed like real friend material. Now the only challenge was that I didn’t live with them. Most people I met freshman year lived on campus, many of them in the same community. I lived in a house I had to go home to every night, where I shared a room with my sister and was expected to update my mom on what happened each day. I’m already an introvert, and I could easily not have built deep relationships with people on campus.
In retrospect, this is one of many instances where I see how God is faithful to give me what I don’t even know I need. Because he did put me in contact with wonderful people who reached out to me when I wouldn’t have reached out to them. My first semester, I got involved with a Bible study that met on campus and consisted mostly of people who lived there, and who were lovely and thoughtful enough to include me. They didn’t have to do that. But they did, because they were obedient to God’s command to love, and they loved me well.
This feels oddly like product placement, and it isn’t meant that way, but people, my Bible study is awesome. It was awesome first semester when I was just meeting people, desperately trying to belong, and feeling jealous that they got to hang out after I went home. It was awesome sophomore year, when there were some new people, and I got to be part of the group that welcomed them like others had welcomed me, just because I’d kept coming. It was awesome junior year, when we decided to move it to my house, because one of the very best parts about not living with the campus crowd is that I can offer my home as a place for others to get away from campus and to remember that community is bigger and deeper than the people on your hall. Because I have a dining room table just perfect for suppers and card games, a mother with the gift of hospitality in buckets, a father who is so gracious with people singing noisy praise to Jesus at all hours of the night, and a living room that can always hold more people than I expect.
This community is not just one of my favorite parts of college. It’s one of my favorite parts of my whole life. And it’s a part I didn’t know I needed. I didn’t ask God for kind people to welcome me and for friendships that could start on campus and overflow. I can take zero credit in making it happen. He drops grace right in front of me, and all I have to do is look up.
Don’t get me wrong, building and maintaining school relationships as a commuter student takes work. It feels like work sometimes to go to an event at the end of the day when I’ve been carrying my backpack around for eleven hours and really only want to go home. It takes grace to know that I simply cannot be part of everything happening on campus, because when I’m there, I’m there for school. It takes patience and attention to balance school and social obligations with the fact that I still live with a family who wants to see me every once in a while.
Sometimes all those factors are quite a load, and I’m not trying to say that community just blossoms perfectly with zero effort. What I’m trying to say is that God is faithful. God is faithful to put people in front of me who point me to him. He is faithful to give me what I need regardless of whether I know I need it. He doesn’t send people off into voids and then forget about them. Sometimes finding fellowship takes work, and sometimes it doesn’t happen the way we want. But all the “sometimes” moments put together don’t cancel out God’s always faithfulness.
He is with us. And he gives his children good gifts.
Krystiana Kosobucki, Student in Impact at IUPUI