Make new friends
But keep the old.
One is silver,
The other, gold.
I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts this week where women are writing letters to their 16-year old selves. I’ve been mulling over that idea, and while I don’t have a letter, the thing I keep thinking of is that I wish as a teen I had been a better friend-maker.
My high school years are some I would not want to re-visit. My freshman year I suffered from chronic headaches that were finally attributed to hypoglycemia. I spent my teenage years battling depression, and one thing I remember vividly about that time in my life was how deeply I longed for a bosom friend. I wanted an Anne/Diana friendship so badly. It wasn’t that I didn’t have ANY friends. I had acquaintances in class that I got along with. I had friends in band, and in the youth group at church. But all those people had their own circle of friends that I wasn’t a part of. I didn’t really have a “BFF” – although, we didn’t use that term quite so much in those days. I was so lonely.
Fortunately, contrary to what I may have thought my fate might be, I didn’t end up an old recluse with no friends. I eventually learned the art of friendship. Along my life path, God put some great people in my life, and I learned that my “bosom friend” had been there all along — we just both had some growing to do before we got to that point. (Shout out to Mama Train!)
I believe that it’s important for women to seek out relationships with other women. Sure, your spouse should be your best friend. I’m not disputing that, and I believe that’s an important relationship to take care of. But women need other women too. God made us for community! I am now blessed with a great husband and a great best friend. Does that mean I don’t need anyone else? Absolutely not. For one, my best friend lives 4 hours away. (Which I’m not complaining about — at least she’s back in the same STATE as me!) If I decided I didn’t need anyone else, my life would be pretty lonely. What if I moved or my husband was relocated? When you start from scratch in a new place, it’s important to make new friends. How do you do that? How do you MAKE friends? I wish my teenage self would have known then what I know now.
“But I’m shy! I don’t make friends easily.” I hear you. I was there once. But I have learned that to be a friend, you have to be friendly. If you are really needing to work on developing new friendships, here are some things I’d like to share with you. (And with the teenage me):
Two years ago, we joined a new church. It was overwhelming. There were 600 active members any given Sunday. It would be easy to sneak in, worship, and sneak out without being noticed. But I don’t believe that’s what God had in mind when he told us to assemble. I had to make myself get out of my comfort zone and speak to strangers. To get to know them. And you can’t get to know someone by speaking to them for 5 minutes here and there even once a week. We joined a life group; we joined the praise team; we checked out different adult classes and began to recognize more faces each time we went. Before long we were beginning to get to know people on a surface level.
Obviously, for me, church is a big avenue to discover new friendships. (I wrote a whole post about why this is important once). But church is not the only place to “find” friends. If you work outside the home, there are obviously people in the workplace you can befriend. Maybe you can meet people with your similar schedule at a local gym. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you can start going to Story Time at your local library, to the park on a regular basis, to MOPS, to whatever sport your child want to be involved in. Other moms are everywhere! When you are around them — don’t just sit in your own corner and read. Be friendly! Make small conversation as hard as it may be. That person might be even more shy than you are and is really needing someone to reach out to them right now!
Make the First Move
This can be hard – especially for those of us who are introverts by nature. But this is important! You see, no one else wants to leave their comfort zone either. You have to be willing to take a leap of faith. Start to look at those women you now know on a surface level. Women you think have admirable qualities. Maybe you’re “friends” on facebook and you have a glimpse into her life and you think, “That’s someone I could be friends with. We have a lot in common.” Target those women. Then what?
You make a move. Invite them out to coffee. Or over for lunch. Or schedule a play date for the kids – that one is even less scary, because it can be under the guise (or added benefit) of being ‘for the children’. That’s where it starts.
Keep it up
Once you’ve started developing a friendship, keep it going. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our daily lives… getting dinner on the table, soccer practice, dance, gymnastics, schoolwork, whatever… and our friends are the same way! If you want to develop a friendship, just like anything else, it has to be a priority – you have to give it time to develop. Don’t just have good intentions, follow through! Give that person a call, or just send them a text and let them know you’re thinking of them (in a non-stalkerish way of course!)
Meet the Needs of Others
Christ gave us the example of servitude. You’ve heard to “have a friend, you need to be one”? That is exactly true. To be a true friend means give and take. We have to be thinking of the other person. What can we do for them? Have you noticed a mom of littles who is really struggling? Offer to watch her kids so she can take a NAP. Did you notice that someone one was particularly down one day? Invite her over for a cup of coffee and just be a listening ear. Be the kind of friend you’d like to have, and before long, you’ll realize that you have them!
Pray About It
If building friendships is something you are really struggling with, I challenge you to lift your struggle to God in prayer. It may sound simple or not very helpful to just tell you to “pray about it”, but I believe with all my heart that He hears our prayers and answers them. If this is something you need in your life, then don’t be afraid to ask God for help.
As I mentioned earlier, God has blessed me by putting some amazing women in my path. I am so glad to call these women my friends, and it’s my prayer for you that He will put similar women in your life, and that you will sieze the opportunity to make new friends!