| from Julie LaQuey |

Our oldest son, Caleb, graduated from college in May. On our drive home from the graduation celebration, my husband said, “I feel the same now as I did when he graduated from preschool.” I understood exactly what he meant. Certainly, we were excited about our son’s achievement in earning a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Magna Cum Laude. But the type of diploma received didn’t really matter to us that day.

Our son knows that it’s important to work hard and do your best. We believe he’s worked very hard to earn this degree and that he achieved to the best of his ability. He didn’t strive for perfection but positioned himself to learn as much as possible. He decided to embrace significant challenges, even if it meant a slightly lower GPA, a somewhat higher level of stress, and a little less time for fun. Still, he continued to focus on relationships and place people as a priority in his life. We believe he’s chosen well. We know he’s not perfect and hasn’t done everything right, but overall, he’s made many good choices.

Caleb has always been very logical but also very relational. He has maintained the same attitude he began to develop back in preschool. He is the same person now as he was then, with the same contemplative but fun-loving personality, the same kind heart and generous spirit, the same compassionate and protective nature we’ve seen in him from a very young age. He enjoys a challenge and chooses to persevere. We observed these same characteristics in him at college graduation that we saw in him back in preschool. This is what we celebrate.

Caleb called me shortly after graduation, and we talked about several of his friends that we had enjoyed spending time with during our weekend celebrating together. He observed that friends he has known for several years maintain the same personality and have the same spirit as when he first met them years ago.

A good friend, someone you connect with spirit to spirit, is a lifelong friend. When your personality blends well with another personality, when you connect to the soul of another person, you create a bond that lasts forever. These close friendships he has made while at college will stand the test of time and distance.

When you think about your closest friends, do you recognize this truth?

Perhaps this is one way that God’s image is displayed in us. Hebrews 13:8 declares, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” In Malachi 3:6, Revelation 1:8, Psalm 90:2, and various other places in Scripture, we observe God’s unchanging nature. He is, has been, and always will be the same. His characteristics of love, patience, justice, holiness, sovereignty, wisdom, truth, goodness, etc., never change. God created each of us with a personality and certain gifts that remain largely unchanged throughout our lives.

We all long to have friends who know us, understand our true personality, and who can identify our strengths and weaknesses. We want friends who accept us as we are, choose to love us and encourage us to be the best we can be, and who somehow still like us and enjoy being with us despite our failures. As a mother, I desire to have this kind of relationship with each of my kids. I also hope they have these kinds of relationships with each other and others outside our family.

As we move further into summer, many of us will likely find our kids longing to spend time with friends. Perhaps they have been separated from friends more than usual this past year, and they may be searching for ways to reconnect, renew, and restore what has been lost.

We can help kids reconnect to friends in healthy ways.

Most kids have spent more time than expected in front of screens this past year. Because I’ve learned from Dr. Kathy Koch’s teaching, I encourage you to help your kids meet with friends in person rather than online. Summer can be a great time to meet with friends outdoors.

You can help your kids reconnect by asking questions such as these:

Which friends do you want to see this summer?

What do you miss or like about that friend?

What are some essential characteristics that you want your friends to have?

What does the Bible say about friends?

How can you be a good friend? How can you learn to be a better friend?

How can you make your friends feel valued and loved?

Is there someone that you know is lonely or who you think might be lonely? Do you want to reach out to that person?

How can you spend time with friends in a way that helps you get to know them better?

These verses may also be helpful in your discussion:

Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times.”

I Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”

Another helpful resource is Dr. Kathy’s brochure titled “Be in Charge of Your Relationships.” I encourage you to actively engage in helping your kids develop and strengthen positive friendships. In the process, you will find your friendship with them improving as well!

Visit the LaQuey Family podcast and listen to Episode 26 for more helpful tips and further discussion on this topic.

Julie LaQuey is a follower of Jesus Christ, intent on sharing the hope of heaven and the Truth of God’s Word and His great love to others. She is wife to Tyce, married 26 years, and mother to Caleb (age 23), Abby (age 20), and Luke (age 15). Tyce and Julie have formally educated their children at home since the fall of 2006. Julie is passionate about helping women learn to respect their husbands, value their children, and love God above all.