Maria Montemayor, Youth Speak News

The gift of friends in faith

By  Maria Montemayor, Youth Speak News
  • January 22, 2016

With the start of a new year, what has become increasingly evident to me is how fortunate I am to have strong, faith-filled female friends.

Growing up, I attended Catholic schools and was friends with whomever wanted to hang out with me. My friendships shifted and changed as much as I did. Even though I considered myself to be Catholic and I excelled academically, because my friendships changed so much over the years, at times I became insecure about who was actually a true friend.

During university, I started attracting different kinds of friends, friends from different religious backgrounds, friends who did not believe in God, and friends who shared my faith. It was at that time that I began to realize what friendship was really about.

With two of my atheist friends, something I failed to understand at the time was that I could not be their Catholic saviour. Both of the girls shared with me personal family issues and I was empathetic. But, at the same time, those friends wallowed in self-pity and were quick to put me down while raising themselves up.

I thought that I would be able to share my faith with them but, in reality, I could not even speak to them without receiving a negative response. I could not even voice my discontent. I was passive and too concerned about not hurting their feelings. At the same time, I felt trapped in our friendship.

With my Catholic university friends, it was a completely different story. They were intelligent individuals who exuded joy wherever they went. They were supportive, ambitious and caring. I could talk to them about any contentious issue from abortion to euthanasia to marriage, and our views would be in alignment. They were involved in their parishes and they were deeply rooted in Catholicism. They also knew more about Catholicism than me and I really learned from them.

I could be myself around those friends. I did not have to spend my time defending my beliefs. I could laugh with them, pray with them, have deep conversations with them and empathize with them.

I know now how important it is for my well-being to surround myself with people who I can lift up and who can lift me up in return. The friends in my life inspire me to be a better person every day and I am so grateful to have them.

Although my friends and I are all on different faith journeys and have our own struggles, we all manage to share our joy in the Lord. After all of these years, I know who my true friends are and I would not trade them for the world.

(Montemayor, 23, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Toronto.)

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