Four ways to go from friendly to real friends
I was a mess when our family of six moved from my hometown in Minnesota to South Carolina. I struggled through most days, taking care of basic needs before crawling into bed just to do it all over again the next day.
In Minnesota, I had nearly full-time caregiving assistance for my eldest daughter with disabilities. When I stepped off the plane in South Carolina, I didn’t have any help because I literally didn’t know anyone. Plus, I had an infant who had been released from the NICU less than a month prior with brain surgery. I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. I ached for authentic relationships, but I was afraid to reach out. I was afraid that If anyone found out how much of a wreck I was, they would run for the hills.
I came to South Carolina so broken I didn’t know how to start living a new life. After residing in my hometown for 10 years and raising my girls around family, I had no idea what it would feel like to desperately need friends.
Friendly Is Not The Same As Friendship
There were warm and lovely people everywhere we turned, yet I couldn’t figure out why I felt so lonely. Everywhere we went we were welcomed with homemade cookies, neighbors with open doors, and even perfect strangers with smiles and a willingness to chat. We were surrounded by pleasantries and kindness; yet, after living here for a year I longed for something deeper. How could I go from knowing people to really being known? While I appreciated all the friendliness, I really just needed friends.
God knows my heart. If He can build a sisterhood for this busy mama and her high maintenance crew, He can for you.
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” God knows my heart. If He can build a sisterhood for this busy mama and her high maintenance crew, He can for you.
It is challenging to invest the time and energy toward developing meaningful relationships, yet God is consistently faithful and blesses even my smallest efforts. I don’t always get it right, but He continues to patiently remind me of four principles when I get discouraged and lonely.
4 Ways To Take Your Relationships To The Next Level
1. Give up the victim mentality.
If Romans 8:37 says we are more than conquerors, then why do we live in defeat? In any real relationship, it isn’t a matter “if” we will be hurt, but “when.” We’re all human, we all make mistakes, and we all hurt each other. We can’t live in fear thinking people are out to get us or don’t like us. There are many good people who need and want friends, so keep trying.
2. Start fighting for community.
We were created to live in community and to depend on each other. Our world elevates independence and self-sufficiency, yet God says in Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two are better than one.” Meeting new people can feel like speed dating, and trying to mesh conflicting schedules can be exhausting. Even after all the planning and effort to get together, be patient because it takes time to build bonds we long for.
3. Step outside your comfort zone.
To go from friendly relationships to true friendship, we have to put ourselves out there. How about finding a small group, showing up to the office dinner party, or walking down the hall to the dorm common area to meet people? And while you’re there, open up and share something personal. We can’t wade in the shallow waters and just wish for more depth, it takes action.
Getting to know someone new is scary, but we can do it knowing Jesus is in it.
Mark 11:24 says whatever we ask in Jesus’ name, believing, we will receive. When we ask for things we know Jesus wants for our lives — like living in community — He will give us opportunities to receive that blessing.
4. Remember friendship isn’t just about you.
Friendship is not about being part of a certain group or using people to further some agenda. Friendship is one of the ways we spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
Friendship is about giving and taking without expectations. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” We should always be thinking of what we can do for others before we think about what they can do for us.
Friendship is worth the fight, worth the time, and worth the risk.
Friends are one of many good gifts God gives us, and few things in life can bring more joy than authentic relationships. If you’re blessed enough to have real friends, not just acquaintances, take time today to let them know how they’ve blessed your life. If you’re still praying and putting yourself out there, you’re not alone. Don't stop! You’ll be surprised how many people are just like you and wanting something more. Friendship is worth the fight, worth the time, and worth the risk.