As I approach graduation from Kansas State, I am confronted daily with the ways I have changed since arriving here my freshman year. I remember being excited, nervous, and unsure of where exactly I would find a sense of belonging. Quickly, within the first week of my time at Kansas State, I realized I would find solace in a church on Denison. That church became a place where, even though I didn’t know a soul there most days, I felt comfortable. It was as if God kept drawing me near to Him in St. Isidore’s because He knew I would make friends there and come to share my love for that place with friends of my own that had yet to visit.
I met so many beautiful souls by attending daily mass my freshman year, and the loneliness soon drifted away. By the time my sophomore year rolled around, two of my long-time best friends from home had decided to transfer to Kansas State. Now, as a senior, I see the perfect storm this created in my life here. My new friends met my friends from home and I no longer sat by myself at mass, but flanked by two people that have been with me through it all.
Even today, it is not lost on me how lucky I am to have such beautiful examples of authentic friendship in my own life. It reminds me of a movie that, if you know me, I’ve probably made you watch at least once: Stand by Me. This movie, to me, is such a striking depiction of so many of life’s lessons, one big one being true friendship. It centers around a group of adolescent boys in a small town who go on an adventure to find the missing body of a kid their age that was in a train accident. On this journey, however, they are confronted with the reality of life and all of its challenges. Two main characters that I relate to are best friends Chris Chambers and Gordie Lachance.
One of my favorite scenes in this film is especially prevalent in my life and the lives of my friends right now; it is the scene in which Gordie and Chris are walking together and talking about how they will be separated once they get to high school. Chris reminds Gordie of this, citing the different skill sets that each boy possesses.Chris points out how Gordie will excel in his college english courses and Chris will be better at other subjects-- simultaneously proving that they will not be in the same classes. Gordie fights this notion, saying he would rather be with Chris than excel in his studies, to which Chris scolds him for being willing to give up his full potential in life in order to be with his friends.
In reality, Chris was pushing Gordie to be better, and despite being separated in the coming years, the two remained best friends. Gordie did reach his full potential as did Chris, but they couldn’t stay on the same exact path as one another in order to do that; they had to go their separate ways for a while. God wants us to have authentic, beautiful friendships, but we are required to trust that His plan for our lives is congruent with a life of friendship as well. Just as the Apostles had to leave behind their comfort zones in order to follow Christ more fully, so might we be called to venture out of our comfort zones.
As us graduating seniors leave Kansas State, move away, and start our professional careers, just remember, (as I myself am trying to) that distance does not kill authentic friendships. For years I have loved the phrase “I will see you in the Blessed Sacrament,” because it is so true. No matter where you are in relation to those close to your heart, if you stay grounded in your faith and close to the heart of Jesus, you will always be close to them. You will always be home.
Lizzie Wenberg is a senior studying strategic communications and fine arts at Kansas State University. She is always ready for a cup of coffee, a good adventure, or a trip to see her favorite band in concert. You can read more of her writings here.