There is nothing quite like the potential of starting university. The subjects you will potentially study, the places that will potentially become important (trust me, this can be more important than you realise), the strangers around you who will potentially become your friends. A handful of them are potential best-friends-for-life-no-matter-where-we-are friends. For some people, university provides them with a potential partner, or even the potential spouse. First-term has many new people in it, but the flip-side of so much potential in so many new people means that often people can feel they have many new acquaintances, but no real friends.
Being on the other side of university, I can assure you that in some of the new people the potential does fully blossom into deep, kind, life-sustaining friendships which have helped to define the very best aspects of my university experiences, and to make the worst aspects a lot more bearable, and fill them with a lot more laughter. They are the friends that will help you move house twice in one summer, pick you up from hospital with a much needed cake, coffee and sympathy, and make you laugh until you cry.
Finding my friends at uni was an amazing testimony of God's faithfulness and plan over my life. I arrived at university as a two-week old Christian, with an old bible and very few ideas about what it meant to be a Christian. One thing I was certain about was that I was not going to be one of those Christians that went to church (as someone that now works for a church, I would like to state that this is no longer my opinion).
It is absolutely no coincidence that the first person I met in my halls told me he was a Christian on the very first day we met, and invited me to join him at CU. It is no coincidence that I queued outside a club behind a girl who became one of my best friends, and also happened to be heading to CU a few days later. It is no coincidence that I met another girl outside Revs who had been attending The Belfrey for years, and we became friends too.
Most importantly, it is no coincidence that my best friends, my prayer partner, later house-mates, and a broad base of true friends came from the Christian community that I found myself drawn into by these individuals whom God just threw at me right at the start of my Christian life. The Christian fellowship I encountered in my college group in CU brought me a community of authentic relationships and guidance in my new faith, as well as introduced me to the lifelong missional calling of witnessing and evangelism to the people around us that all Christians have. It also brought me to The Belfrey, through gentle nagging and encouragement from them. All of those thing happened because God knew me, and he knew what I needed- to see the light and love of His people in community, and that would be enough to steer me into finding my feet in an unfamiliar faith.
Time for some disclaimers- Christian fellowship is a very important thing, but it is not an excuse to only be friends with Christians. Many amazing, reliable, and honest uni friendships of mine have been with people who do not know Jesus. Don't use your faith as an excuse to not love, enjoy and celebrate all people, not just Christians.
Furthermore, those communities are not a closed club. The best thing about Christian communities done well is that they pull other people into them. When I joined CU, I had no idea what or why I was there, or what was even going on, but the community was so loving and open to me that I kept coming back. The same thing happened when I came to church, and even now I'm experiencing deeper and better fellowship with other people as my relationship with God gets better and deeper. Ideal Christian communities do that to people. They draw in the outsiders.
So, I ask you, what's the best thing you can do to find meaningful fellowship with other Christians? God had to ease me into Christian community because of my spiritual youth and preconceptions about the church and Christians, but most people are much more mature than I was about finding friends!
Find and start cultivating true, deep friendships with other Christians. This is part of the reason that we as a church are organised into Belfrey Groups, in order to place people into loving communities and help them grow there, as well as draw newcomers in. Get stuck in to one! If The Belfrey isn't the right place for you, that's okay, but please do settle somewhere which has loving community that you can take part in. Most of all, remember that God's plan for us involves an awful lot of people, and person you meet this term has the potential to really change your life.
Bethan is a Student Work Forgee. She likes big boats, big cups of coffee, and big dreams.