I stopped in my tracks, speechless when she said to me, “I don’t have any friends. No one has time to be my friend. What do I do?”
Have you ever felt lonely like that? Like everyone else around you has “their person?” That everyone else is connecting with others? That you aren’t noticed or needed or known? I sure have.
Goodness. How do you answer in a concise and systemized process about a topic that often organically happens and depends on so many variables?
After much thought and conversations with my friends, here are 3 ways. Whether you are in that lonely space now or know someone who is, may they help and encourage you.
1. Be comfortable in your own skin.
This is the starting point for it all.
Do you need another’s approval in order to feel good about yourself? Do you pounce on anyone who comes along with “friend potential” gushing over who you are, what you’ve done, and listing your qualities like on a friend resume? Are you so desperate for a friend that you jump in way too fast and fast forward to BFF t-shirts before you’ve even had an honest conversation?
Being comfortable in WHO you are and WHAT you are is paramount. This kind of security, independent of others, only comes from the One who created you. And from Him, you get filled up with the truth of you are. So, ask Him in prayer who you really are. Pour out your heart to Him about your loneliness and longings. He is your True Friend.
My favorite verse in light of this is 1 Corinthians 15:10…
“By the grace of God I am what I am.”
Because of God’s love and favor for me, I am worthy, valid, relevant, seen, known and loved, yoga pants and all. Operating from an acceptance of grace for ourselves, we can extend grace to others: loving them where they are, letting go of the competition and jealousy that assaults our insecure hearts, and cheering them on to fulfill their purpose.
2. Be the friend you want to have.
What do you value in a friend? Then, be that friend. Things like:
- Be intentional: Make the call. Reach out and invite someone to lunch. Don’t be guilty of sitting around and waiting to be asked. Take hold of the opportunities around you and be deliberate.
- Be a good listener: Stop and put your agenda on the shelf. Listen with open ears. Ask questions as she shares. Make good eye contact. And, follow-up.
“Answering before listening is both stupid and rude. “ Psalm 13:18 MSG
- Be patient: It takes time to grow a friendship. It takes time to make memories and build a history. Resist the urge to rush it. Stay within the moment and be all there as your friendship grows. It’ll take time. But, it’ll be worth the slow grow.
- Be wisely vulnerable: As you witness their trustworthiness, allow your cracks of imperfection to show. Ask for help, and then accept it. Let your guard down. This is one of the sweetest gifts: being fully known and loved still.
3. Be always open and looking.
- Flex with the flex of life: Life is in a constant change motion. We move through the phases of youth, college, single, married, mother, empty nester, retired. It’s inevitable. And although we love the security of the constant, we need to hold friendship loosely and allow growth in life stage and as individuals. Friendship is a gift and one that often is given only for a just little bit.
- Not every friendship has to reach the “bestie” level: There is a purpose for each relationship (Girlfriend Revolution, Susan Thomas) and some are intended for you to generously love with no expectation for return.
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
- Close vs. Exclusive: It’s great to have a close group of friends. But, be careful not to project it in the face of others (like on social media or in social settings). Be kind and conscious of the exclusivity others can feel. Have open arms to including others.
Begin owning these 3 things and I am confident that God will open up pathways for sweet friendships in your life to grow.
Where do you start? In your church or community. At your kids’ school. In your neighborhood. The opportunities are before you. Now, go and seize ’em!