Monday, October 4

Negative Influences

Do not be mislead: "bad company corrupts good character."--1st Corinthians 15:33

I'll admit it; I tested my limits in college. For the most part I behaved myself and managed not to become entrenched in any self-destructive behaviors. However, I think it is reasonable for me to assume that I am at least partially to blame for a strand or two of the gray hairs my parents are starting to exhibit.

College was very unlike my sheltered, tiny, private high school. My first quarter biology class alone had nearly as many students as my entire high school. College introduced me to a variety of different people and personalities, some of whom proved to be very good friends and other who were negative influences. I was somewhat naive in thinking that I was a strong enough Christian and that I could not be influenced by people whose lifestyles were contrary to my own. I had convinced myself that I was going to accomplish some grand missionary feat on my campus.

Yeah, right.

I learned that the kind of people a person spends time with can and will have an influence on that person. I learned that if spending time with certain people involved lying to my parents about my activities and whereabouts, then those friends needed to be dropped, and quickly. Allow me to elaborate...

I had decided to go to a concert with a group of friends without my parents' knowledge. I wish I could say that the concert was a blast and that the risk of getting caught was nothing in comparison to the fun I had that night. The truth is, I spent most of the night trying desperately not to be crushed in a mosh pit. To make matters worse, I was constantly distracted by my conscience because I had deceived my parents. The next day I was keenly aware of my bad decision when I woke up with my head still ringing from the noise and my mom demanding to know why my jacket smelled distinctly of cigarette smoke. (Side note: I don't smoke, never have and never will. I have enough health problems without worrying about getting lung cancer.)

As tame as that experience may sound to some, for me it was a wakeup call. I carefully re-evaluated my friendships and worked hard at spending time with people my parents approved of, or at least had met once. I decided that I needed to work on developing friendships with people who could help me make progress in my walk with God instead of tripping me up.

Ever since that realization, I had tried to make good decisions in the friend department. I am very thankful for all the great Christian friends who are now a regular part of my life. I still have a few acquaintances who do not know the Lord, and I'm careful with how much time I spend with them and what activities we do. I believe that it is important to have a circle of friends that include Christians and non-Christians, but we need to be careful about who is influencing whom.

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