Welcome to our Blessed Chats series! Each month, we will dedicate an entire week of blog posts to a topic that affects many of us. These conversations often come up in our Facebook groups and in our real life friendships. We want to share a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand, so we’ve asked women to share their stories and how the teachings of the Church have guided and comforted them. In this series, we’re talking about college. We’d love for you to join the conversation!
The Saving Graces, written by Patricia Gaffney, is a story of four girlfriends who for a decade shared deep affection that helped them deal with the ebb and flow of life, uniting them as years went by. Their story profoundly impacted the way I viewed friendship. I was deeply enthused by their depth, loyalty, vulnerability and how quickly they chose to forgive. I have often wondered why such stories leave indelible marks on our soul . What is it about such relationships that invoke in us a deep desire for belonging? Why was I drawn to it?
Being The Beloved
In 2019, following my talk on relationships at a youth conference, a young girl came to me saying “I don’t have any friends, what is wrong with me?” Her question brought a myriad of memories without delay.
During college, I had superficial relationships and very few that resembled “friendships.” I floated between different groups across campuses, trying to fit in but was shattered many times by girls who elevated themselves by tearing others down.
On the other hand, my broken home, coupled with my atheistic lifestyle, prevented me from seeing myself as a “gift.” It left a deep void within me. I constantly tried to fill this emptiness with the comfort of shallow friendships, those who knew me only by my appearance, not my heart. I was the queen of comparison, constantly seeking validation, settling for mediocrity. I set unrealistic—if not idolatrous—expectations on friends, expecting them to comfort, provide and love the way I wanted.
The Healing of Christ
When I encountered Christ in 2004, my view on friendship still needed work. Having lived my whole life with a performance mentality, I entered ministry life as well, approaching people like programs, finding worth in “doing” rather than being. I experienced hurt and heartache, many from women, leaving me wondering if authentic female friendships were even a reality in the Church.
My healing journey with Christ has taught me that I cannot give from an empty well. Hurting people hurt other people. I need to first receive my deepest identity as a beloved of the Father. The more I abide in His friendship, the more I am able to see friendship as an overflow of His love. The more I see myself as the beloved, the more I am able to embrace people as Christ does, without destructive expectations. How fitting that in the grand story of salvation, then, wounds are not erased, they become tools that God uses to tell His story, bringing Hope. As Christ continues to heal my heart, I’m learning to ask: How can I love like Him? How can I be that true loving friend?
Sustaining Digital Friendships
Life Coach Jim Roan says, “Show me five people you hang out with the most and I’ll tell you where you’ll end up.”
We don’t just choose friends; we also adopt their lifestyle and worldview. We become who we choose. As a Youth Mentor, I am aware of the challenge to sustain friendships in our digital age. With so much focus on connection and so little on communion, young people tend to confuse strangers with friends—people who have access to their feed, but don’t have access to the deepest parts of their story.
In Hebrew the word for friend is very closely related to the word “secrets” because a friend is someone we can trust not just with information, but with our life. But think about how easy it is today to violate trust. It takes a second to text or tweet something confidential but a lifetime to repair the damage. How do we sustain lifelong relationships as pilgrims on the digital highway?
In his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis writes, “Life is stronger than death when built on true relationships and bonds of fidelity.” It is no secret that we have been wounded by female friendships. But it is for this very reason that the sisterhood needs the authenticity of our witness to create a culture of encounter where trust and truth can foster faith, friendship and commitment in relationships.
Write + Pray
Discover your story within His.
Love Beyond Borders
Friendship in its purest form is love. But what do we mean by love? I love chocolate, I love my sister, and God loves me. Are those the same kind of loves? A friendship which requires moving beyond the ‘self’, toward others is perhaps the most overlooked opportunity in our busy world. We need encounters of love, discovering beyond what we can see, being open to dialogue and being better listeners.
In Mary’s life, we see how God’s love not only permeated her innermost being; it also propelled her forward for the good of another. Following the Annunciation, Mary didn’t run first to the leaders or her parents or even the man she was promised to marry. Despite the cost, she went in haste to Elizabeth (Luke 1:39), to bring affirmation, to testify and to burst forth into song, together. This is the beauty of a soul filled with love; this is sisterhood—going beyond oneself, building bridges, emerging stronger.
Mary’s friendship is a timely reminder for our modern friendships. She invites us to challenge the cultural status quo that says, “What can I get out of this,” to arrive at, “how can I be a friend to you?”
I have begged God to bring holy women into my life and after much heartbreak I am so grateful for my inner circle today, women who not only call me higher, but continually lead me to Christ’s Sacred Heart. Their willingness to call me out in truth is such a tremendous gift. It is life-giving, transforming and therapy to my soul.
We are tempted for quick wins, but deep friendships take time, they are born through shared adversity, deepened through forgiveness and consistent vulnerability. We need connections that bleed love.
Jesus, Friend Forever
Sister, if you are struggling in your friendships, compromising under pressure, or grieving the losses of friends gone, I want to encourage you. God sees your heart and your ache for authentic sisterhood. You are not alone.
The manger and eventually the Cross are the supreme reminders of God’s involvement, intimacy, and saving graces on our journey. Remember, Jesus had three close friends who professed to love Him all the way, but at the most crucial moments of His life, they abandoned Him. Yet, He called them friends (John 15:15). He gave them access to His heart and offered them His trust. Take heart, knowing that in our moments of loneliness, when we turn to cry out in abandonment, we find ourselves face to face with a tortured, bloody man on a cross, in whose death our friendships are redefined and redeemed. Even in the deepest moment of abandonment, we meet the one who is called “God with Us”
Ask the Lord for Good Friends in College
This is the work of the Holy Spirit, conforming us to the One who is Love and setting ablaze our hearts to love like He does. His fire runs deep, purging our selfishness, helping us forgive, burning away fears and breaking down filters that prevent us from being the friend we’ve always wanted.
Pray for good friends. And consider how you can be a good friend today.
This is just one of many stories about college life and discernment. We want to hear YOUR story. Please share in the comments below!
And if you want more help with finding your own story, our popular Write + Pray course offers 9 topics, nearly an hour of guided video, and almost 50 Scripture verses and questions for you featuring Managing Editor Nell O’Leary. Find your story today.