Friendships. Some of you just read that word and got alllllll warm and fuzzy inside. You have great friends who enrich your life and draw you closer to Christ. You couldn’t be happier with the people in your close circle of friends. (P.S. If that is you, please scroll to the bottom and leave a comment letting us know your secrets!)
Others of you just read that word and inwardly cringed. Sometimes friendships are hard to establish, or impossible to maintain once they are started. You’ve been let down, discouraged, and betrayed. You’re wondering why your friendships always seem to fall apart…
If I’m being completely honest here, for the whole world wide web to read, I usually fall into that second group. I kind of always thought I was one of the only ones who struggled to find authentic friendships, until my sister wrote this post on friendship and it spread like wildfire. It was shared and pinned, and re-shared and re-pinned again and again.
That’s when I realized maybe I’m not the only who finds authentic, real, selfless friendships are few and far between.
I have had people in my life who I thought the Lord was sending to be that person for me. Until, for some reason or another, I found myself all alone again. Maybe the friend moved, maybe I moved, maybe we found ourselves in different seasons of life and just didn’t have that much in common anymore. The circumstances were different each time, but the discouragement left behind was the same.
Sadly, I’m not the only one in this boat. This topic has been coming up again and again in my life, and I hope – I pray! – that this post encourages you.
Maybe you, too, find yourself surrounded by people while feeling all alone. Maybe you are going through intense pain right now, and could just really use a friend. (Please reach out to me if you do. I would love to pray for you!) We all need a shoulder to cry on, a friend to laugh with, a sister in Christ who can sometimes tell us like it is without being offensive.
We are called, commanded even, to live in authentic community with other believers, to share our burdens and our blessings, our fears and our failures, our hopes and our dreams, all in an effort to encourage others. To comfort others as we have been comforted.
So why is it so hard? Why do well-meaning friendships seem to always fail?
1 – In one word – we are HUMANS! And humans are selfish. We are imperfect people in a fallen world. We let the busyness of life drive our days instead of slowing down and blessing others. We live for productivity and to-do lists instead of pouring into others. In a typical day we rush, rush, rush, never once stopping to look at all of the broken people around us. People who are hurting and who need Jesus and a stranger’s smile to brighten their day.
If I stop and think, I don’t know the last time I really asked the teller at my bank how she was doing. Or the last time I gave the cashier at the grocery store a genuine smile and asked how her day has gone so far. When I pick up my prescriptions at the pharmacy, do I give them more than a quick thanks before I’m headed out the door, blinded by my never-ending to-do list?
When you talk to the people in your life, are you asking how they are as much as you’re talking about how you are?
2 – We hide behind busyness. Part of my struggle is the insane schedule I’ve always kept. Working full-time, blogging part-time, being a wife and a mom and a daughter and a sister, being involved in various ministries at our church. It’s all taken a toll on the amount of free time I have left.
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve assured myself “I just don’t have time to invest into others right now.” That’s a no-no. Christ calls us to community for a reason. And even if it’s hard, ESPECIALLY if it’s hard, I have to MAKE time for people, for friendships.
I know I’m not alone in this. If you wonder why friendships are hard for you to maintain, stop and ask yourself, are you too busy to make time for others? And if you are, what can you do to fix that?
3 – We are afraid of being hurt…again. Some of us have been scarred by others. Deeply and truly hurt by other women, other believers even! I type this with a heavy heart, burdened for some of you that might read this and identify with this hurt. I’m recently experiencing this myself. You see, I had this amazing friendship that was a sisterhood in every sense of the word!. We were prayer warriors. We were besties. She was my PERSON!
When our friendship started unraveling, it just hurt. so. stinking. bad. It still hurts. I felt betrayed, abandoned, rejected. You name it, I felt it. I know we serve a God who can restore this sisterhood, and I pray that in due time He will, but for now that’s just not the case.
If you find yourself hurting because of past hurts, please know I feel ya, girl! BUT we can’t isolate ourselves to avoid hurts. We have to reach out to others. We have to find a community of like-minded people to do life with.
4. We let our insecurities hold us back. How many of us hold back from being our true selves out of our own insecurities? Maybe we don’t feel comfortable initiating new friendships because we aren’t _______ (fill-in-the-blank) enough.
You mean, I should ask to meet HER for coffee? She is so much smarter than me! What if I sound like a dummy in our conversation?
I should ask HER over for a playdate? But my house is a wreck! And she always looks so polished and perfectly put together.
I should go to the Bible study SHE is hosting? They know so much more about the Bible than I do! What if I don’t even know what we are talking about and they expect me to share?
I, too, have felt like I wasn’t smart enough, pretty enough, organized enough. I don’t dress nice enough, cook well enough, or work out enough. But somewhere along the way I learned that HE IS ENOUGH!
Friends, He IS enough, and I am His! When I place my identity in Christ, not my fashion sense or financial well-being or how Pinterest-esque my life should be, I stop comparing myself to others and stop feeding my insecurities.
I remember that I am exactly as I should be. Flawed, so His grace is evident in my life. Weak, so that His strength can sustain me. A work in progress, so I will continually be growing and changing and conforming to be more and more like Him.
May you rest in the knowledge that while you may not be perfect, neither are the women who might intimidate you or make you feel less than. They are struggling too! Maybe about the same things, maybe about different things, but we are all just trying to figure out our lives. And we are called to do all of that figuring out together.
Take a long, hard look at your life. Are your failed friendships revealing anything about your heart? Are there any bad habits, selfish tendencies, or crippling insecurities that you need to deal with?
Or maybe a friendship is struggling because the other person has some of these issues. Can you reach out to that friend in love, offer to speak words of life into her, pray for her, and encourage her?
Will you join me in prayer for women joining together in friendship, for sisterhoods that push each other closer to Jesus?