A couple of weeks ago, I wrote wrote a post about my deep seated desire for authentic friendship and community. You can find it here. I don’t think I’ve written anything that has engendered this much discussion since this piece on special needs and the church. The response I got begged for a follow-up. Honestly, I almost didn’t publish the article because it seemed a little whiny. A little too needy. And who wants to be either of those things? But I sat with it and prayed about it and decided that it was an authentic part of my experience and needed to be shared. I was ill prepared for how great was the need.
I heard from women in my own community and across the country who feel isolated and crave intimate friendships. Based on Instagram and Facebook, I bought the lie that everyone else has an active and fulfilling social life, so I must be a loser. But this conversation has shown me that there are LOTS of losers out there! Hmmm. Maybe there is a better way to say that. An unfulfilled desire for connection is much more common than I previously thought – especially among women around my age and stage of life. I got responses like, “I thought it was just me.” and “It stinks being the perpetual asker.” Wow. To be truly understood in the area felt like a breath of fresh air to me. Almost like I created some community by writing about community!
For most women, friendships are soooooo important. So it is also quite painful when things go awry. I can tell you from my own personal experience that I had a relationship fall out several months ago that I consider the most painful thing I endured in 2017. And I had a cancer diagnosis, chemo and 4 surgeries! You might think I am exaggerating to make a point, but I assure you I’m not. I’m such a relational person that cutting out a friendship was much more traumatic than anything that happened to me in an operating room. Loosing my breasts was just physical. A severed relationship cuts to my very soul. And the absence of significant, intimate friendships can feel as handicapping as a missing limb.
The absence of significant, intimate friendships can feel as handicapping as a missing limb.
After giving this topic some more thought and reading what others have had to say, I have a couple of practical suggestions:
- On busyness. My number one relationship complaint has been that no one has time to offer. And real friendships take time. Not just shooting an occasional text and running into each other at church or kids sporting events, but genuine time. To sit. To talk. To eat a meal together. To come to the aid of someone in need. This is a real problem. Most of us need to find ways to give ourselves more margin for rest, relaxation and relationships. Things that feed us and make us better to be around. But the truth is that we all have responsibilities and commitments that must be fulfilled. Most of us can’t lighten our loads over night. This thought occurred to me as the previous article became a siren call for quality time and a few sweet individuals answered that call. I now have invitations to lunches and coffees in May. Otherwise known as “hell month” for anyone with kids in public school. We have all the events and all the banquets and all the things. So what do we do when we truly ARE busy? How about instead of merely declining an invitation – we look at our calendars and find an alternative. For example, “I have to drive my kiddos to events this evening, but I would love to see you and have Wednesday lunch free. Would that work for you?”
- I stated in the last post that I was “fighting” for community. That I wasn’t going to give up inviting and expanding my current group of friends in the hopes of growing fellowship. And I do think it’s important for me to put myself out there to be open to possibilities. But one wise friend reminded me that I should not neglect asking God for my heart’s desires – especially when the desires line up with his will for us. And we know He wants us to be in fellowship with other believers. In John 16:24, Jesus tells us, “ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” In my Bible, those words are in red – straight from the mouth of the Man himself. So while I think we should step out in obedience to any invitations or opportunities God is leading toward, I also need to step up my prayers in this area. As one bloggy friend said, “Sometimes the best connections form unexpectedly.”
So here’s to good friends. Tonight is kinda special. Wait…that’s a beer commercial. So here’s wishing you unexpected connections, God surprises and life-giving community.
Wendy L Macdonald says
Thank you for this heart-matters post, dear Lauren. These words especially made me realize I need to pray about my local friendships more: “I should not neglect asking God for my heart’s desires – especially when the desires line up with his will for us.”
I’ve been lazy and fearful about reaching out in person. A friend moved away and, even though I miss her, I’ve not put in the effort to hang out with someone else.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Praying for you, Wendy. And Happy Mother’s Day to you!
I agree that our friendships take up a lot of space in our minds (and hearts). I remember having a falling out with a good friend years ago over something very minor. It hurt! I thought about it to the point of obsession. Today, this friend and I are going out for an early Mother’s Day dinner and to listen to a band with some of our children and my husband. We found our way to revive our friendship.
Wonderful! Thank you for sharing, Laurie.
SUSAN SHIPE says
Lauren, I’m returning the visit and I did bring cake! Great post – we are getting ready to leave our country home of 30 years and move to a downtown flat one block from our daughter in a city with a college, summer concerts we will get to watch from our balcony and the hub-bub of real life. I cannot wait. I have worked from home for ten years and the isolation gets old. I am craving community and pray I find it at our new location!
Praying for u in this next stage of life, Susan. Thanks!
Sue Donaldson says
Yes, I love those two suggestions. I continue to fight loneliness and isolation in others and am amazed how many are ready to be invited for coffee or tea. First time here – tweeted! (:
I am so honored that your shared, Sue. Praying for community for you as I pray for mine. Thank you for visiting.
Leslie Newman says
Loved this post on a much needed topic. Thank you for your wisdom and advice. So true how much we need friendship and the real in-person connections.
Thank you, Leslie.
Maree Dee says
What a great post on friendship. Yes, I too have bought into the lie that everyone else has it. Thank you for sharing with Grace & Truth Link-Up.
Thank you Maree.
Lauren, this is so important we were created for fellowship with the Father & each other but so many times life & challenges can get in the way of making new friendships.
You’re most welcome to drop by for a cup of inspiration anytime!
Thanks for visiting Jennifer!
Lisa notes says
I so agree with this, Laura: “My number one relationship complaint has been that no one has time to offer. And real friendships take time.” I know I say that in my own life as well, but you’re right that we can all make time for the things that matter the most to us. Maybe it’s not as much time as we’d like, but anything is better than nothing for the important things.
Thank you reading and commenting, Lisa.
Rachel Lee says
Yes, yes, and YES to this!! So glad I’ve recently connected with you! This is a message that is so relevant to so many. Statistics show that although we are living in a culture with more ways to connect than ever- we are the most disconnected people when it comes to true, authentic relationships. How very sad.
Loved your tip to pray for God to orchestrate those friendships! Relationship is His desire for us! So very good!
Thank you, Rachel. So glad we have connected too!
bethany mcilrath says
Just the encouragement I needed today, Lauren! I’ve recently moved so the longing for friendship seems doubled of late! Thank you!
Oh, Bethany I can imagine how lonely that must feel. Keep pressing on sister. Praying for you in this.
Shelbee on the Edge says
Lauren, I am so glad you have found my blog and led me to yours. These posts on friendship could not have come at a better time for me. I am currently in the process of severing a very toxic friendship that I hadn’t even realized was toxic despite multiple signs and warnings from outsiders. It was simply to the point where this person tried so hard to isolate me from every other friend I had and I woke up one day realizing that I had no one else and that she and I had become so intertwined that I was becoming unrecognizable to myself and I did not like what I saw in the mirror anymore. I had a dramatic awakening this past week that has left me feeling so raw, vulnerable, and completely violated. As I work my way through this process, I am realizing how painful it is to discover that even people who put on the face of goodness can still be really bad people beneath the surface. I could go on and on, but I will just leave it at that. I thank you so much for this post. And as you have already realized, it was much needed!
Oh Shelbee, reading your post I could swear you were talking about me! The same thing happened to me a few years ago and it was so very hard and painful. I am praying for you as you seek healthier community. Hope you will pray for me too and that we will keep in touch.