Letting go...

Going to university is full of tensions.  

One of the biggest is leaving friends to move on.  Its not the first time you've made that move, but primary to secondary seems a long time ago and not everyone did the school to sixth form move.  Besides, its one thing moving schools, its another moving cities, or maybe even countries.  

Friendship is precious and the Bible upholds it as a beautiful and powerful thing.  Jonathan and David show us a great example of true friendship and Jesus was heartbroken over his friend's death.  Friendship is precious and one of the toughest things about moving on is that those friendships you now have will look very different over the coming years.

The Bible gives us a great picture of this transition of moving away from your friends when Jesus leaves his disciples to go back to the Father. 

1) Jesus describes how is disciples were 'filled with grief' because he was leaving, but at the same time, he knows its the right thing and encourages them by sharing what good will come of it - that they get to receive the Holy Spirit.  In the midst of the struggle of moving away from your friends encourage each other by seeing the good things in that move and talking about those too.  Don't just share your sadness - share your excitements too.

2) When I left university it was so painful to let my friends go, but it also filled me with joy to see them move on to jobs that they were just made for!  Jesus is clearly heartbroken about leaving his friends - you can see that in the way he prays for them.  He prays that God would protect them as they go out into the world.  Pray for your friends as they move on.  Although it might be hard to share them, pray that they'll make amazing friends when they arrive, because we want the best for those we love.

3) One of the scary things about moving on is that you no longer have the support (and accountability) of your friends around you.  Being yourself is easy when there are people who accept you for who you are, but now you're having to step into a place where no one knows you.  When Jesus leaves, he gives Peter a chance to decide who he's going to be once he's gone.  After Peter messes up while Jesus is on trial, Jesus meets him and asks him three times what his call is going to be.  He warns him its a hard path, but Peter chooses to live for Christ.  Peter would no longer have Jesus there.  He would have God's friendship and encouragement, through the Spirit, but not his physical presence.  Similarly, you will still have encouragement from friends, through Facebook etc., but they won't physically be there anymore - cheering you on, telling you off and keeping you in line!  This is a personal challenge - staying true to yourself without your good friends there to help, but its a decision you have to make for yourself at this crossroads.  Challenge your Christian friends like Jesus challenged Peter - are you going to stay true to Jesus when we all go different ways? Challenge your non-Christian friends too - will they stay true to themselves and who they want to be?  Maybe agree with your friends what will be particularly challenging to you and keep each other accountable to being true to yourself and God during the first few weeks of term.

Moving cities can be really hard when you're leaving friends behind, and its important to recognise those struggles.  However, its also important to be good friends by encouraging one another, praying for each other, and helping each other to stay true to who you are and what you believe as you move out of the comfort zone of close, local friendships.  

The friendships we have are a gift, and therefore we trust God with our friends as we move on, because as Jesus himself said about his friends 'They were yours; you gave them to me'. 

Pippa Elmes

Ministry Training Leader

Pippa supports those in church based student ministry to do their job really well. She loves challenging churches to work with students and equipping them to pioneer new mission opportunities to reach students.                     

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