Christmas time can ring a number of proverbial bells. Usually, you want to hear about how Christmas was a time spent with good friends, family, and food. However, for some people, Christmas can be lonely.
Going home looks different for different people. For example, if your friends from home follow different lifestyles than your own, it can be difficult to try to connect with them like you used to. Thankfully, that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Here are a few tips to help you find and connect with Christ-like community over the break!
1) If there are friends from college nearby, reach out to them to connect and be encouraged in your walk with Christ.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Staying immersed in the Word is the first key aspect to this. Jesus is the source of all of our community, and will help us treat others with kindness and love. Be rooted in who He is first off!
On the practical side, if there is a friend from your college community that lives close to you back home, try to reach out to them and see if they want to grab coffee/meal somewhere in the middle. Even something like that might help a friendship last a lifetime, well beyond college.
Also, connecting with nearby friends shows that you care about them. Jesus says for us to love our neighbors, and reaching out to friends needing community nearby is one way to do so. Even if they say no because of varying reasons, you have shown them you care about what is going on in their life! Talk about loving others as yourself!
2) Make sure to go to church, even if it is by yourself. You never know who you might meet or run into!
“...with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
One of the most crucial things both Jesus and Paul are clear about is being involved in a church and community. In this day and age, we can overlook community due to our usage of social media. However, during the holidays, invite some friends to go to church with you.
Going to church helps you to one, get out of the house if things might seem lonely and two, a church helps you to connect with people going through the same things. Additionally, going to church helps to unite people from different family backgrounds to bear up each other’s burdens in love. Through community in church, you learn how to carry lighter loads for yourself and also about helping your friends by bearing their burdens with Jesus.
3) Above all, work hard to preserve peace with loved ones, even if it seems difficult at the time being.
“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
2 Corinthians 13:11
Throughout his ministry, Jesus promoted peace to his followers. Some of us go back to a home where parents and siblings might not know Jesus. Additionally, friends from high school might not know him either. Naturally, that difference in perspective may cause disagreements.
As followers of Christ, we are called to be loving to all. That being said, loving people in situations when your friends and family aren’t receptive to Jesus’s message looks like serving others and just plain being kind. If a family member or friend says something to slight you, respond with forgiveness and grace. Also, if a friend is in pain, comfort them in ways they understand and can receive willingly.
These things can be difficult because you might not be telling people about Jesus directly. It creates a much longer road for them to know the truth of the gospel. However, this road helps you to grow in patience and joy. Through service and forgiveness, you are showing Jesus through your actions and you give them a glimpse of how free a walk with Jesus really is. When people look at your life, they shouldn’t get a message of perfection, but instead get a taste of the fruits of the Spirit through your actions and words.
Have the merriest of Christmases. I pray for you all to find peace, joy, and rest in Jesus during this break. Always make your requests and desires known to God through surrender, and He will open doors and provide friendships that you never thought were possible.
Author | Brad Schiebel