In less than a week, most BJU students will leave campus and head home for Thanksgiving. Many of us will spend Thanksgiving surrounded by people we love, eating food we enjoy and doing activities we like. Gathering around the table for a holiday will be a welcome break from the stress of class and work.
We should be thankful for these blessings. The support network many of our families offer is invaluable for our mental health. We can relax at home, feeling safe and knowing those around us care about us. Healthy relationships afford us an outlet to grow as people and find encouragement when life is difficult.
But not everyone has healthy relationships with their family members. Instead of a support network, some students may return home to unsupportive, unloving or even abusive family members. For them, Thanksgiving may not be a safe break from stress; it may bring them stress.
For students with difficult home situations, family can’t be trusted to provide the support network they need. They need other people who love them to offer them the healthy relationships all of us need. This encouragement can come from healthy friendships.
These friends can become their home away from home. For some students, college may have been the first time they felt welcomed. Someone—a roommate, society member, dorm supervisor or professor—may have treated them with respect they’d never been given.
Perhaps this feeling of belonging came from people who shared their experiences, or perhaps it came from people who had never experienced that struggle but were willing to listen anyway.
Genuine friends care enough to provide a safe, affirming and loving environment. When we find these people, we should stay close to them and be thankful for them. And we need to recognize that loving environments allow us to open up to those who care.
It’s okay to tell others that we’re dealing with difficult situations, such as unsupportive or abusive family members. True friends are willing to hear those hard things and comfort us when needed.
Instead of suffering in silence, we should share our troubles with those genuine friends and be thankful for the supportive community they offer.