I’ve noticed a trend over the past 6 months or so and maybe its only a coincidence, but several books on friendship have come out all one right after the other. Maybe this happens often and I am only acutely aware of it now because of the season I find myself in or maybe not. For example, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst was released August 2016. Then Craving Connection by the people over at (in)courage was released January 2017. And most recently two books in the same month both on friendship, one Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker and the other Messy Beautiful Friendship by Christine Hoover. Maybe I am the only one who finds this interesting OR maybe these authors are keeping a pulse on culture and are deeply intuitive to what we (specifically women) are struggling with at this moment in time and how we need to be encouraged. I have a hunch its the later.
I have to wonder if women back in the 60s and 70s struggled with this. Struggled with friendships, on making and keeping true friends. I am sure they did to a certain extent, but I feel like this day and age where EVERYONE and their mama is on social media, we struggle with it from a slightly different angle. If you were to look at my Facebook you would see that I have 1,976 friends or my Instagram account where I have 858 people following me. Y’all, I had no idea I knew that many people and I can GUARANTEE you that I don’t talk to all 1,976 of them much less interact with them in a face-to-face encounter on any type of regular basis. I am surrounded by all these names and pretty profile pictures, but I feel so alone. Anyone else out there or am I the only one?
In fact, just the other night I was sharing with my husband about how never in another time of my life have I felt so alone yet I am surrounded by a sea of people. Hence why I said what I did earlier, that maybe now I am only acutely aware of all these books on friendships floating around because I am struggling in this area of my life.
If you would have asked me a few years back did I have a hard time making friendships, I would have answered no, but I would have been honest and told you that it takes me some time. I am sure my Relator Strength (according to Strength Finders) has something to do with it, in that I am fiercely loyal almost to a fault. Which when you find yourself in new surroundings and needing to make some new friends, this can be more of a burden than a strength.
We’ve been back down South for two years now and are trekking right on into our third year. I have passed the “one year” hurdle, you know the first year where everything happens to you and then after that you have a better grasp on things. So imagine, here I am, long strides into my third year, and why is it still so hard? My husband had to remind me how long it took me to make friends after we moved to Ohio and even then, it was slow at first. Most of the time it looked like my husband pushing me out onto the playground to go meet new friends to play with, kind of funny imagery, but you get my point. Making friends and nurturing a friendship is hard. It doesn’t get any easier the older you get and often times we have been so jaded by others that we just want to throw our hands up in the air and say that we are done with people all together. Amen?
I wish I could offer some profound words of wisdom on this topic of friendship, but truth be told, I am right there in the thick of it, asking God what can I learn from this season that I have found myself in, one that at times feels immensely lonely. Here’s what I do know, that you and I aren’t alone in this. Often times, we get stuck in the trap of thinking that we are the only ones going through this or that, but the truth is, we aren’t. So hear me say this…”ME TOO!” Are you struggling to make friends… me too! Are you feeling alone…me too! Are you missing your friends back home…me too!
And here is one more tidbit that I am learning and that has been “eating my lunch” as my husband likes to say. Could it be that one of the reasons you, me, all of us struggle with friendships is that we are seeking approval in all the wrong places? Could it be that I am seeking the friendship of someone to validate who am I as a person or where my right standing is among a group of people? My worth, my purpose, my approval can only be found in the One who made me and knit me together.
In the book Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker she writes, “The shortest distance between strangers and friends is a shared story about our broken places.” This is one of my “broken places…”