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Making New Friends and Creating Life-Giving Friendships

 

It can be incredibly difficult to meet new people and make friends as an adult. We don’t have classes to go to or study groups to join. We no longer have sororities and fraternities or dorm roommates. It is now up to us to meet people, and sometimes it may seem a lot easier to stay in, eat frozen pizza and binge-watch Netflix by ourselves.

In my experience, I have found that there is an endless list of reasons [or excuses] that people give when making the choice to “settle” in regards to friendship:

  1. You may prefer isolation and thrive off of being alone.
  2. You may be hesitant to let down your walls in fear of what people will think of you if you open up.
  3. You may be intimidated by groups of people who seem to have it “all together” (which is never actually the case.)
  4. You may believe the lie that you just don’t get along with people. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard the comment, “I just don’t click with other girls.” (I used to say this all the time, until I realized that the problem was in my heart, and not in the hearts of the women around me.)
  5. You may just feel that you’re too busy to add in time with friends.
  6. You aren’t sure how to make new friends.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…”

This verse very intentionally addresses Christians who habitually neglect time spent with other Christians. The oppositeof neglect is encouraging good works and love in one another. Those are such good things – great things – so why don’t we desire to pursue that more?

I definitely do not want to diminish how real the majority of the above reasons are. It is hard to make time, sometimes it is really nice to just be alone, and you’re not going to get along with everyone. Yet, despite our feelings, hesitations or busy schedules, scripture makes it clear that fellowship is a calling on the Christian life. The beauty of it is that God desires good for us and therefore calls us to good things, such as this.

Along with prayer, I started asking random believers, typically friends of friends, out for coffee.I invited so many people to church with me. Many didn’t come, but some did. I also joined a community group and poured myself into ministry. I invited others out for movies or dinners, I went out when I didn’t want to, even when I was much too busy. I asked them about their lives, their marriages, their joys and their struggles.I shared my life with them – vulnerable, real, hard life – from the very beginning. I feared judgment and disappointment, but I quickly realized that they were right alongside me, going through many of the same struggles.Some of these attempts didn’t amount to much or anything at all – but that was okay, because others did. I pursued people relentlessly and selflessly, because that is how Jesus pursues me – He kept me going despite my own discouragement and loneliness.

I can now honestly say that the friendships that I have in my life are incomparable. My best friendships weren’t created instantly – my two best friends weren’t immediately the people I shared all of my secrets with – it took time. But now, these relationships are beautiful and joyful and challenging and so incredibly refreshing. I have women who display the love of God to me every single day.

Proverbs 17:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Other believers have the ability to sharpen your faith and stir you to exercise that faith in love and good works, to God’s glory.

When we first had our son, we had friends walk into our home, unannounced – arms filled with groceries and cleaning supplies. They selflessly chose to spend their afternoon cooking and cleaning for our new little family. There are people who will drop everything if they think I need them, friends who randomly bring gifts or treats in the middle of the day. Women who see me in my marriage and gently pull me aside to encourage me to love or serve my husband better. Some write or call daily, because they love well and are genuinely curious about how I am doing.

These are friends who mimic Jesus in their love and, by doing so, encourage me to love others better. None of these relationships have anything to do with who I am and everything to do with God’s grace and love that He rejoices in displaying through His children.

Mark 10:45: ’For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.’ Just as these women serve me, I have been given the opportunity to serve them with the gifting that God has given to bring others joy. What is your gift? In order to serve, you have to have people around you to serve! Keeping ourselves in community allows us to bless those people by using our gifts. 

John 13:35 says, ”By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

How can we love one another in this way? What does it practically look like to be intentional? 

1. Make time:
You will always have something else going on or somewhere else to be.
One of my best friends is a mom of two. She homeschools, leads worship at her church, leads a youth group and keeps a very busy schedule. Her time with God and her family are most important, but we work to make time for one another. She comes over at 6:00 a.m. every Friday, to catch up on life. It’s not the easiest but the reward of our time spent together is so worth it!

2. Discuss good and real things:
Let’s move past that shallow conversation and talk about honest things, goals and ideas, conviction and repentance and all of the things that God is teaching you.

3. Allow Jesus to be your only foundation of friendship if that’s all you have:
It can be difficult to make friends as an adult. If you are lonely and in need of friendship, allow your love for Jesus to be the only thing that you have in common. You may not immediately “click”, but if your foundation, your hope and your goals are the same, over time you'll build a strong friendship.

Living life in community gives us the opportunity to live out the “each other” language in the New Testament which says: Love one another, forgive one another, regard one another more highly than yourselves. Teach and correct each other, pray for each other, bear each other’s burdens. Be friends with one another, kind, compassionate and generous in hospitality. Serve one another and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

This list just scratches the surface of what scripture calls us to, but it is enough to remind us that we need the community to mature properly in Christ. I pray that you will not neglect fellowship today, but instead, take the time to pursue and enjoy it as God has intended.