Friends are a big part of our lives and will be very important throughout our lives. They have a great deal of influence over us; therefore, it’s important that you share values with your friends. This does not mean you have to all be of the same faith and think the same things, but if you have different core values, you need to make sure that your values are clear and that you are going to live them.
You should never judge people who have made poor choices, nor should you make them feel bad if they have made mistakes, but you should never put yourself in a situation which would compromise your values. Be careful to not fall into the trap of thinking, “If I just go with her, I can keep her from getting into trouble.” People will make the choices they will make, but if you put yourself in an environment contradictory to your standards, it becomes a lot harder to keep those standards. Make the decision early to not drink, to not smoke, to not do drugs, to not have sex before marriage, and you will never have to make the choice again. Make the choice early and then avoid friends and places which would have you compromise those standards.
Who you spend time with and what they like to do can affect you very much. Peer pressure is very real. If all your friends want to push the limits here and there, it may be an opportunity for you to show moral strength, but it’s hard to stand against the pressure of “friends” over and over and over again. Real friends will not try to persuade you to make choices which make you uncomfortable or go against what you believe. Real friends will repsect your beliefs and will not ask you to compromise what is important to you.
It is best to spend your time with people who will help you be a better person. If you’re with people who constantly try to bring you down or make you do things that you know are wrong, you’ll end up struggling to stay true to what you believe. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone else is doing it. Not only is that often not true, but even if it were true, it is not a good reason for doing something.
We should also be aware of those around us who may not fit in easily to groups. Some people are shy or have hard time communicating with people. Reach out to them, befriend them, help them. They may bring more to you than you do to them.
You should not be afraid to invite your friends to religious meetings and activities. You don’t need to pressure them, but you should not be ashamed of your beliefs. Often people are curious about others’ beliefs, but are afraid that if they ask they will give offense. The best way to share your beliefs with others is to live up to those beliefs. If you hold yourself to a higher standard, other people will notice and will be drawn to that. Values can transcend religion. You can have very good friends not of your same faith who support you in upholding your values.
Decide now to live to a higher standard, then make decisions to help you live that way. Be sensitive to the feelings of others and help them feel loved. Be kind to everyone, but be careful who you spend the most time with. Make sure that those you count your closest friends are helping you to live your values.