Monday, May 06, 2013

Befriending {an introduction}


 

Raise your hand if you've ever had a hard time making a good female friend.

Raise your hand if you've lost a friend. Or had a falling out with a friend. Or gone for years without having one single friend with whom you could share your heart.

I can raise my hand on all of the above.

Have you ever moved away and lost ALL your friends, overnight?

Well, I'm realizing I'm in a situation, having just moved, where I am starting at square one with making face-to-face friends. And then as I've talked to a few people, I've also realized that pretty much all of us struggle to make or keep even one good, solid, safe, female friend. It is not easy. Women are not easy. We are complicated, emotional, protective, and horribly addicted to comparing ourselves with others. Comparison is like friendship arsenic, by the way (more on that another day).

I felt I needed to bring this befriending challenge that I'm up against to the table here. Maybe we need to talk about this friendship issue we as women have. Maybe it's just a little too easy to sit behind our screens and desire connection but feel too afraid to step out. I feel that way some days. I feel really, really lame. I don't want to drum up a conversation with that other mom standing five inches from me at school pick up. I don't want to ask my kids to point out the boys and girls they like so I can chase down their mothers in the parking lot and introduce myself. It is NOT fun or comfortable for me.

But I know it's worth it. And I've been taking some courageous steps - for me, anyway - in the pursuit of friendship.

So I thought you may enjoy it if I posted regular updates on this pursuit. I also have a lot of thoughts on the different seasons of friendship that I think God ordains for us. He hasn't always provided friends for me. I've been through painful seasons of loneliness. That's part of His plan too, sometimes.

I've received two emails this week asking for advice on friendship related matters. They are actually what prompted me to put my thoughts down here about starting a dialogue with you on friendship. Do you have any issues or questions you'd like me to address during this little friendship series? I'm hoping, through this process, you'll feel encouraged to pursue new or deeper friendships as well, whether you're in a season to look outside of yourself for that, or to look inward for a deeper friendship with the Lord.

Okay. Let me gather my thoughts for my first post on befriending, and I'll share soon.

In the meantime, answer me this:

What is one immediate thing you look for in a friend, something you can assess within the first few times of meeting?


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25 comments:

  1. I look for authenticity...and that can be pretty clear after a few meetings.

    I've been thinking a lot about friendship and deep relationships lately! In fact, I just spoke at my local MOPS about it. And here's what I'm learning in a nutshell (hopefully, it'll be somewhat helpful to you): 1. You have to be the friend you wish you had. (Most) everyone wants these kinds of friendships, but for whatever reason, we rarely do a good job pursuing them. 2. Most women are about 12 years old on the inside...a little insecure, feeling like all the cool kid are off doing something really fun, awkward. Remembering this makes me a little braver.

    Looking forward to this series!

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  2. Open, friendly face...but NOT someone who takes hostage the conversation.

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  3. My hand is raised... ha ha. brave steps indeed.

    laughter... I need someone I can laugh with.

    Also, God has been revealing to me how special some of my past relationships are and that even though I am far away, I need to still nurture and be thankful for and upkeep a few of those because they are the kind that don't come along every day. The ones with people who knew you back when and went through some major life stage with you - high school, college, baby days, etc. But also to take the brave steps to find people for this current life stage!

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  4. The most important thing is that they like me. :) Really like me, enjoy being with me. Other than that I need the common ground of her being a Sister in Christ to be truly able to be close to someone. Whatever differences we have don't matter, they enrich the relationship and point back to the most important thing that we have in common, Christ in us. Everyone has something to give.

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  5. The first thing I notice is how they speak about others. If they are already gossiping or trying to get info on someone else, it makes me wonder what they will say about me.

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  6. We moved six years and I have really just made those close, close friends relationships in the last few years. We moved to a small town where everyone already had all of their friends lined up and no one was really moving in. I missed the "city" so much where it was more of a melting pot and friends came and went often. I have found recently though that my fear of moving again isn't as grand as it was back then. Since I began blogging many friendships are held in this crazy cyber world and I can take those along with me. I would certainly miss my face to face friends, but I know I could make new ones in time.

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  7. If they give grace, and have maturity. Hard to find in my age group (college kids).

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  8. ok, can't stop the tears. i love and hate thinking about this.
    (probably a long comment happening here)
    raising my hands to all of those, too.

    it blew my mind how the lord brought blogging(of all things!) to the forefront for me when we moved cross country. i had blogged and read them for several years, but never really commented or connected(on my end). i didn't really know you could, i guess. anyway, i found true friendship through blogging. never did i see it coming, but i'm sure glad it did!

    i moved from MS to MD shortly after i was converted. leaving friends in that situation was a life saver for me. making new ones was HARD. really, i think i never made the best kind there. besides my husband. i have met very few people that take friendship as seriously as i do.
    when i first saw the titanic movie, at the end when rose is holding on for dear life "i'll never let go!" it made me think of friendship. how much i cared for people, and it made me evaluate "does anyone care for me? or even care that i care for them?" i was such a mess then, but those thoughts still grip me. i want to be THE best friend. when i bother to know someone, i want to know them. and be there. through any season they'll have me. and as i'm getting older, i see my own need for a friend who will do the same for me. i used to think maybe i didn't deserve that. and i don't "deserve" it, really. but i think it's ok and a good thing to crave a good friend.

    i have one friend here, besides my sister. and if i'm being honest, it's a difficult situation. i love her! but she struggles very deeply with depression, so being a good friend to her, like i strive to be, is very taxing on my own life. but i do it! i just, sometimes, selfishly maybe, i need someone to be a friend TO me.
    does this sound terrible? clearly, i could talk aboout this for a long, long time. :)

    the one thing i look for? maybe a grateful heart. (it's a blessing and a curse, discernment. but i can usually tell within a minute the overall attitude of someone.)
    or maybe listening. good listeners are attractive :)

    i love you, and i just can't wait to hang out!

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  9. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I used to think I needed/wanted one BFF to fulfill all my needs, not! Those expectations have set me up for failure. So I appreciate the friends I have(not many, I lean toward introvert) and try not to laden friendship with unrealistic expectations.

    I also think about proximity.....there is a friend I call once a week to catch up...she lives across town. We have been at it intentionally for about a year now and have been great support to each other. I started by asking if I could call once a week, so worth it to be intentional and in each other's life like that, in close proximity.

    I belong to a prayer group...boy if I could give any advice it would be to join something like this....it's a women's small group but every week we share our struggles and places where we need prayer and truly pray for one another...even the leader gets naked with her needs. That has been an amazing support group for me and me for them cause its not all about my needy self and I can be needy. So have opportunities to reveal and get real, give and take.

    Other relationships have come out of that group cause it is easy to say wanna do breakfast some Saturday? And there goes from group to one on one relationship. I just picked so,done I'd like to know better.

    I have a crazy friend who has called me a few times a month from a city far away for something like 6 years now....she is high on the loyalty scale, but it has been fun to share life with her all this time.

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  10. I said I just picked someone I'd like to know better in next to last paragraph, it is hard to do comments on an iPad for some reason.

    Sorry to be so long. Friendship has been a place of pain for me for many years. Always on the outside looking in. I worked on getting healthy myself and that helped. I decided I wanted a tennis relationship, not the kind where I rescue or the kind where she drains me. One that is back and forth, in support and love. I don't have as many friends as I wish but I have made progress. I prayed for godly friends and I prayed god would make me a good friend.


    Blessings! Sorry for the iPad blunders.

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  11. Just one thing I look for? The word "genuine" comes to mind--so that is in line with your first commenter's "authenticity." And also humility! Oh--and if I'm being honest, I look for independence and a lack of neediness. Because I do strive to have balance in my life and not get too busy, I do not want to develop a codependent-type friendship.

    I realize that was way more than one thing. ;)

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  12. What a perfect subject for you to write about. I'm sure you can connect with many hearts with this one ;)
    I'm learning a lot about my needs in this area. Realizing what is important and needed for ME. As usual, I do think we all have unique needs. And I am on board with searching out and accepting any phases of life that may be there for a reason. Looking for Gods guiding voice in your circumstances. Remembering that he could easily bring just the friend that you need at anytime and not to forget to look at what you do have first if you're struggling. Love you pal. And I love how you bring your life to your words on your blog.

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  13. Seeing that I will be going through the whole moving out of state thing myself, well great topic my friend! What I look for is how they treat it talk about their husband and if they have a service heart!!

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  14. I've lived in the same city my entire life. I have 31 years worth of connections here. I have the opposite "problem." I have too many friends. I spread myself too thin. Sometimes I think it would be easier to just move away and start over, so I'd be forced to thin my group of "best friends" to a smaller group of those who really matter most. Thank you for giving me this dose of perspective. Not that thinning my group is a bad idea, but maybe I should be a little more thankful for having such a solid group to begin with.

    I hope you meet some wonderful people who bring out the best in you! I'm looking forward to meeting you at Hope Spoken. There are so many of us (your readers) who feel like we already know many of you.

    I'm rambling. I only meant to comment on your initial question: the one thing I value and look for in a friend is humor. If we can't laugh about the same things, we probably won't be a good fit. I've gotta be able to smile with a person, and laughter is so healing.

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  15. honestly i would love to hear your insight on what friendships were like in your college days. I find that while I am 20, single, and in college...everyone else wants to be married and have kids. although i want those things, I want them later...in the future....NOT NOW. I am curious what your experience was in college and throughout life wanting relationships with women while all they want is to fall in love with their husbands...or the next boy that walks into the room. i am frustrated always being put on the back burner to a guy who is a current part of my friends' life and then being the one who has to hold her when she cries and realizes he was not the one for her.

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  16. I am pretty good at making surface level friends but I always feel like friends will eventually get tired of me or decide I'm obnoxious or not popular enough to be friends with and then take off. Sounds like I'm a teenager but I'm in my thirties :)

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  17. Leslie, this is a blessing to me to read. Please keep sharing about this! I pray the Lord will provide deep and meaningful relationships for you as you settle in!

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  18. I definitely look for someone who is real. I know the first conversation I have with someone isn't usually super deep...but sometimes they can get to that place, depending on the person. Either way, I think when someone is just themselves...not afraid of offending me or saying the wrong thing...just being true to themselves...that is what most attracts me to friends, because that is the friend I hope I am as well.

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  19. We moved to a new state six years ago and it took a while to connect. We limited how long we'd "church shop" and connected to a small group quickly. That really helped. It also took me talking to people and introducing myself. Sometimes I was stung but often I made good friends (including a neighbor one block over). But really it takes time, especially in the midwest. I think culturally people are a little slower to open up. If Montana counts as midwest :)

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  20. i love this post. really really prevalent in my life right now. I need some friends. we moved a year and half ago and I didn't think we'd live here long so I didn't even try. now I know we're staying here for a while...not sure for how long but long enough that I should be making some friends. looking forward to your posts!

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  21. My favorite friendships have been the ones that "the Jesus in me meets with the Jesus in them." Because of this we can be fully ourselves with each other. And by fully, I mean no false pretenses, no good enough, no games... We each come just as we are -which is messy, because let's face it we're both sinners saved by grace-, and instead of focusing on the messy, we focus on the One who resides in us.
    It's the best when this happens. Best.

    Praying you find that there.

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  22. oh, this is gonna be a good one Leslie! I think what i look for immediately is a sense that a person is resting in the Lord. does that make sense? there is an ease or peace about someone who is in fellowship with Jesus. also, a sense of humor. i like to laugh, like a lot. as if you didn't already know that ;)

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  23. I just found my way here from The Wiegands blog. Having just moved to California with my husband and daughters, I sometimes feel like the ONLY person who isn't able to keep one good, solid female friendship intact. I had so many friends in Texas and because we all had little kids, we spent a lot of time together in a mom's group. But once I moved, I realized that most of those people weren't close enough to call on the phone. Of course, our friendships hadn't been developed that way in the first place. They were developed via FB and text message and get togethers. But when I'm alone in a new place with a husband who is working all the time and two kiddos who are struggling with a transition, sometimes I wish I had someone to call. I wish I had someone to come over with a big box of cinnamon rolls and drink coffee with me in my pj's while the kids play on the floor. I wish, sometimes, I had a sister or a sister like friend. But I don't and I don't even know how to go about taking it from the level of acquaintance...to the next. I'm very interested in what you have to say!

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  24. first of all i'm so glad you and your family are settling in. you have been in my thoughts often. even though i haven't really had the time to read blogs lately. ;(

    i look for friends who are peaceful and whom i don't feel pressure from. friendships should be easy. i tend to get lost in my day to day tasks (i'm probably the worst kind of friend) i hate for a friend to feel like i don't like them because i didn't call for a few days. you know.
    i can't wait to read your thoughts on this subject. your thoughts are always so good and christ centered.

    i will be praying that you find that special friend(s) leslie.
    xxO

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