After hearing me speak at the Christmas Tea this last year, a woman walked up to me and asked, “Will you be my new best friend?” While others might have recoiled at this bold question, the woman had totally endeared herself to me, and I wanted to reply, “Sure I will!” I am a serial friender, an instant connector. Now, you may not be wired like me, but the truth still stands: friends are essential, even if you’re intimidated by the thought of having to make new ones.
After experiencing three major moves in adulthood, I’ve learned that finding community is crucial, and sometimes, in order to build friendships more quickly, I’ve had to grow comfortable with taking some vulnerability risks.
Let’s face it: female friendships are complex. We are all navigating the world through our own scope of experience and understanding, and sometimes putting yourself out there takes bravery. I remember when I first moved to Chester County, my kids were very little, I was drowning in housework, and I was tempted to cancel a playdate with a new friend because I just couldn’t bring myself to sweep the week’s supply of crumbs off the floor or shove the unfolded laundry into the closet. But experience had taught me that it usually means more to people to be open about my mess than to try and pretend it doesn’t exist. So that’s exactly what I did. My friend showed up, and the first words out of her son’s mouth were, “Wow, it’s kind of messy in here.” I told her that day, “I think it’s going to be my new goal to make other moms feel better about the state of their own houses by welcoming them into the chaos of mine.” It was said in gest, but the meaning behind it holds true. You can create a safe place for building new friendships by being ok with your own shortcomings, and by being the first one to reveal the less perfect spaces of your life to someone new.
The bottom line is this: meaningful friendship requires vulnerability, risk, and gracious, patient love.
But let’s be real: we are human, and, inevitably, something gets in the way of our going deeper. And it’s usually one of two things.
Conflict arises. Sometimes it feels easier to shirk away from a disagreement. Much less work to just let the friendship dissolve. But I urge you -- don’t give in. Brave the waters of awkward conversations and hurt feelings, apologies and humility, and work your way through. The sweetness and depth of genuine friendship often blooms out of a hurdle cleared.
We’re afraid. Too often I find myself tempted to assess my life, my goals, my parenting, my home (you name it) by holding it up to another woman’s as if it were curtains at TJ Maxx. And this can make me want to keep all the unsavory parts hidden. What if I reveal who I really am, and this friend chooses to walk away? But when I choose to give into insecurity, or pride, anxiety or fear, it keeps me from diving deeper into those relationships. It may seem easier to keep these potential friends at arm's length, but trust me, it will leave you feeling isolated and lonely. And no one wants that.
When I consider the friendships that have stood the test of time, it’s the ones where we both loved hard, opened up about our insecurities and flaws, and went the extra mile to walk through the gritty parts together. So go first. Show up. Be the friend you wish you had. Mirror Christ’s love to the women around you, and sometimes, even more importantly, let them show His love to you.
PRISCILLA SHIRER STUDY
Whether you attended the Priscilla Shirer simulcast last weekend or missed it, join us for SEED, a 4-week spring study at our Kennett campus on Thursday evenings, May 17 - June 7 from 6:45 to 8 p.m. There is no fee for this group but please register so we have plenty of study guides available.
Join us as we discover the deeper truths of God through stories, Scripture, encouragement and dynamic group discussion. CLICK HERE to register!