Part 1: Finding Real Friends in a Crazy Stage of Life
Friendship is a topic that has been on my heart in this season of life. It’s something I never paid too much attention to in the past, because it seemed like kind of a passive thing. School, work and other activities always provided pretty easy venues for making friends, and it wasn’t until this specific stage of life—being married, having two children, working from home—that I began to realize friendships were no longer just “happening” to me.
Loneliness, on the other hand, was. I felt isolated, devoid of meaningful relationships with adults, save for my husband. Don’t get me wrong, that’s my most important relationship. But I needed friends—women I could relate to, who could speak truth into my life and grow with me in faith.
So I started praying for friendship. And God did what God does and began bringing friends into my life. He’s brought me out of my comfort zone more times than I can count—to connect with women I would never have guessed would be my friends, to share little tidbits of love and grace, and most importantly to grow my faith. I’ve been blessed not only with friends, but with a new understanding of grown-up girl friendships.
So that’s what I’m delving into with this little sisterhood series. I really hope it speaks to you in this stage of life.
Cultivating Grown-Up Girl Friendships
Meaningful, authentic grown-up girl friendships are hard to come by. This is a busy stage of life. Most of us could probably come up with a million reasons why we simply don’t have time to cultivate friendship right now. Yet, this is when real friendship is so vital for us. We’re growing as individuals and raising small people who will one day be responsible for this world (yikes). We need friends to help us get through this stuff. And sure, things might be okay right now as you’re reading this, but what about when the poopy diaper hits the fan down the road? We need to develop these deep friendships now, so that we have the right people in the ring with us when the crazy comes at us.
Okay great, so we need friends. Thanks lady, but what’s the next step for that? Putting out an ad on Craigslist?
Two words: Reach out.
Here’s a little secret you might think is completely nuts… and that’s okay, I am a little nuts. Other women aren’t as scary as we tend to think they are. And this is coming from a girl with a serious case of resting b**** face, so it’s legit. Most women aren’t sitting around waiting for a chance to reject you. Maybe some are, but in my experience, most aren’t.
Most of us are seeking the same thing: authentic relationships. Real connection. People we can trust, who can pour into our lives and relate to us on a real level. At the end of the day, who doesn’t want that?
So that’s my advice—reach out. Wherever you hang out, bring your kids to play, whatever. Step out of your comfort zone and ask for that mom’s number for a play date. Ask that girl from yoga to join your Bible study. Is it awkward? Yeah, it can be. But what’s the worst that can happen? Really, the worst thing is they can say no. For a lot of us women, that rejection can sting, so I totally get the trepidation when it comes to putting yourself out there. But you won’t be forever ostracized from society just because one person doesn’t want to be your friend. However, you might miss out on great relationships if you decide not to reach out. For me, that’s an easy choice to make.
Leave Your Ideals at the Door
The last piece of this is to be inclusive. This has been a challenge for me, and I think it is for most of us. We all have a friend “type,” kind of like we have a “type” when it comes to dating. Subconsciously or not, we have an “ideal” when it comes to what our friends look like, act like, sound like, what they do for a living, how “together” their life is.
As believers, we have to be willing to let those ideals go when we reach out. We know that Jesus made friends with the outcasts, that he spent time with people who were typically excluded from social circles. So how can we serve a God who invites everyone to the table if we can’t follow his example and invite everyone to ours?
We teach our kids to be inclusive, don’t we? We encourage them to be kind to everyone, to sit with the kids who are alone, to stand up for kids who get bullied. How can we teach kindness and inclusiveness to our children if we aren’t doing just that in our own lives? If we walk into a room and we immediately put our heads down, look at our phones and ignore everyone around us, or if we bolt as fast as we can to the people we’re familiar with, never venturing out of our comfort zones long enough to extend hospitality to someone new—we’re not living out the values we’re trying to instill in our kids.
This is a tough one, for women especially I think. I swear girls start getting clique-y in the first grade—it’s crazy. And then we grow up with this “You can’t sit with us” attitude, and it’s tough to flush it from our systems when it comes time to make grown-up girl friends.
But I think part of maturing in our faith and as individuals is letting this go. And I think as soon as we do, God surprises us in the best ways.