By Jared Jones '22
My resolutions for 2020 are not normal.
True, I have some traditional ones: getting fit, learning something new, reading more. Those are always on the list. But when I looked back over this decade, I realized that I missed out on opportunities. Opportunities that could have filled me with peace and love, but because I missed them, I ended up with emptiness and loneliness.
Allow me to specify. Allow me a chance to be vulnerable:
I’ve always longed for genuine friendships, but for the longest time, I did not seek it. I expected friendship to come easily and naturally. I didn’t think that I needed to consistently work on building those relationships, and yet I was shocked when I found myself alone.
Before I left for college, building those relationships didn’t matter as much. I had built strong friendships back home. As a result, I let my pride get the best of me. I thought friends would come just as easily in college as they did in high school. But once I went to college, I couldn’t help but notice a pattern: I was alone in almost every place. The dining halls, libraries, sometimes even at work. Again, at first, it didn’t bother me a lot. I thought my introversion was the reason, and I was okay with that.
Then it started to bother me. Badly.
I can’t pinpoint the exact time or event, but when I started looking at the people I knew, seeing their friendships blossoming, I felt myself missing out on a lot of things, good things. Fellowship. Communion. I started longing for it, even envying it. And my pride, my belief that I would get that naturally, was holding me back.
So last year, 2019, I tried working on my relationships. I tried to check in on my friends. I tried to listen to their issues. I absorbed information from people and drilled it into my mind so that should I run into them again, I could start conversations. I tried to be more engaged in my friends’ lives because I knew I often asked them to listen to my issues without helping them in their lives. I tried all of that last year.
Yet, I was only half-heartedly doing these things. Even though I was talking to people more, I didn’t feel like I was learning about their lives. I often felt as if I relayed my life to them, but I didn’t take interest in their own lives. Their likes, their dislikes, their dreams and their struggles. When I walked away from a conversation, I felt more at ease with myself, but also hating myself because I didn’t feel that I poured into them as they did to me. I felt that I wasn’t invested in my friends’ lives, and I knew it. But even though I knew this about me, even though I knew that it was something to change, I didn’t do anything to change. Either I just didn’t know what to say or I simply didn’t try —my attempts to develop a stronger sense of fellowship were failing because of my own selfish behavior.
Then I had one conversation. That one conversation with a family member crushed me with betrayal and self-doubt. After that conversation, I questioned everything I ever knew: my dreams, my passions, my love. Even my God. No matter how much I prayed, no matter how much I tried to cope with the betrayal that I experienced, I couldn’t, not by myself. I never felt more alone. It was by far the lowest point in my semester. And it was bringing me further away from my family, from my God, and from fulfilling His will.
But then my college friends stepped up ― the ones who were with me since day one. When I finally found the courage and humility to be vulnerable with them, they took the time to comfort me. Knowing that they were praying for me, knowing that their advice was better than anything I could ever think of, knowing that they were simply there for me, that saved me and my faith.
That’s when I realized, for the first time, that even though my relationship with God was crucial, so were my relationships with others. That’s when I realized that God calls me to fellowship and to love others, just as my friends loved me in my tough time. That’s when I realized my half-hearted attempts didn’t cut it anymore. If not for my friends’ investments in me, I wouldn’t know where I’d be. Now, I want to make sure they know of my investment in them. And that means pushing myself to become invested in them and actively showing that investment. It meant that I couldn’t do things half-way anymore. It was time to go all in.
You came for my New Year’s Resolution, so here it is: to actively seek fellowship and communion. To create new bonds and strengthen old ones. To be there for others as people were there for me. To show my investment in them so that if they ever found themselves in the same situation as I was, they would know I am there for them. And it is my desire to lay down my life for them. It’s not going to be perfect, and it’s going to take a lot of work ― much more work than I am used to. But every other resolution that I have is all for nothing if I don’t have my friends with me. It’s all for naught if I am thriving but my friends are not. It’s all for naught if anyone is alone. Showing love to them reminds them that they are never alone.
If you see me try to accomplish this half-heartedly, please don’t be silent. Remind me of what I promised. Keep pressing me like a personal trainer or a dedicated teacher. It’s a New Year, a time for change. But as I’ve learned, change does not happen with only one person.