I was the boyfriend girl.
Meaning, I was always wrapped up in a guy and never made time for deep friendships with girls. Which is a major bummer because I missed out on the friendships you always hear about, the great high school and college friends who “always will be.”
Sure, I had a couple friends, but we all went separate ways for the most part, and then I got married, and then I had kids, and then…who has time for friendship when you’re exhausted and barely making it. I probably needed friendship the most in my desperate years, but it was those years I just couldn’t seem to find the energy to find or make new friends. First it was the boyfriends, then kids, then just plain exhaustion. So, I decided I was a loner. I wasn’t any good at friendships and maybe I just didn’t really need them. I was fine. Really.
But I wasn’t. I had no idea how important and wonderful and good life-giving friendships were.
Until my mid-30’s. In my mid-30’s I met my dearest friends.
And not only do I now have these beautiful, life-giving friendships, I am learning how to be a good friend. The fact is, I’ve not always been one. I’m not a natural at friendship, which is weird, I know, but true.
Maybe you struggle with finding friends or being a friend, or maybe you think you don’t need friends. Maybe you’re just worn out and can’t even muster the strength to work at friendship. I hear you. But let me offer this: If you don’t make the effort for friendship, here are some things you might miss out on:
You might miss the encouragement your soul needs to keep on. My friends know me so well, they know when to call or text or vox and send Scripture or encouraging words or drop off a coffee or take my kids. My friends fill a place in my soul that I never even knew I needed. I would be missing a great gift if I stayed in my “loner” thinking.
You might miss really fun girl nights out. One of my favorite things to do with my friends is head out once every couple of months to a restaurant and eat lots of bread and salad and drink wine and laugh and cry and have wonderful conversations with my friends. These nights refresh my heart and help me to keep on in the dailyness of life.
You might miss knowing you’re not alone. Knowing that my friends go through similar struggles as I do is comforting; we can comfort each other and share how God has helped and what He’s doing and what works and “here’s some chocolate, it’s been that kind of week.” I also know when I’m feeling in the depths, I can call on my friends and they will rally and lift me up, as I will do for them. My husband is my best friend and my greatest supporter, but my girlfriends are a lifeline that is so sacred and special to me.
You might miss knowing you’re loved even at your worst. Real friends love you anyway…they love you, tell you the truth, walk with your through the dark times, and never condemn you. They listen. They are honest but kind. Their arms are wide open. This is the grace of kindred friendship: that you are loved even at your worst.
You might miss out on growing in faith and loving God more. My dearest friends teach me so much. Their love for God is inspiring, and I come away from them wanting to know and love God more. They sharpen me, teach me, and through their struggles and faithful obedience to God, I am encouraged to keep on.
Now maybe you know this, maybe you are desperate for friendship and want to make friends but aren’t sure how or where or what to do. Here are some thoughts for you:
First of all, friendship is like dating…you don’t give up just because the first (or second or third) doesn’t work out. You’re not going to have chemistry with everyone, and that’s okay. Stay open.
Second, ask God. Ask God for good, true friendships. Back to the dating analogy for a moment, in the book Little Women, Amy says to her sister, “You don’t need scores of suitors. You need only one… if he’s the right one.” I feel like this about friendship. You don’t need scores of friends, one good friend is worth gold (think of Anne and Diana). If you get to have two or three dear friends, well that’s just extra grace. Ask God for a kindred friend.
Make the effort. Yes, friendship takes effort to develop, but soon it becomes natural and sweet. My dearest friends are those I can let down with, be myself, and not have to worry about pretense. My friend Amy always says, “No eggshells!” You don’t have to feel like you’re walking on egg shells with good friends, and I love that. But even after the work and you’ve settled into a friendship, you’ve still got to work to love well, because it’s easy to let friendship just be. It’s important to keep caring, to do the work of writing down birthdays and dropping off a coffee now and then, writing a note telling your friends what they mean to you, or saying, “Let me take your kiddos so you can get a break.” Friendship, like marriage, like life, takes work and care. But it’s so worth the effort. So make the effort to invite that woman from church over for coffee. Make the effort to get together with that other mom from your child’s dance class. Make the effort to go to the dinner you were invited to even though you’re born weary. Every time I feel too tired to go see a friend, I’m always refreshed after; I never regret it. Make the effort.
I didn’t always have these beautiful friendships. Maybe you’re in that place right now, praying and hoping for kindred friendship. Don’t give up.