Children never seem to struggle with it; it is effortless for them. Running out onto a playground they see another child for the very first time and, somehow, become instant playmates; inviting new faces to become best friends forever. Yet, sadly, somewhere between silly schoolyard games and necessary adulthood conventions, we lose the carefree approach to making new friends.
Now in my 4th decade of life, I have begun the necessary art of reflection. Taking stock of my relationships — past and present — I realize that each has influenced me in some capacity.
My dearest friend from high school moved states away when we were in our mid-twenties, and though I can pick up the phone and our conversation never skips a beat, I miss her in the day-to-day of life. There is also my college roommate…we are still friends today but life, families, careers, and geography have created space in our relationship and we have more memories of the distant past then we do of the close present. These aren’t necessarily bad things…they are just life things.
But in March of 2017, I had the last conversation with my best friend.
No, death did not create the chasm between us, instead, it was the final straw that broke the fragile and worn-out camel’s back of our relationship. An exchange of hurtful words were the symptom of a festering wound that had never healed. Though I mourned the loss of that friendship and grieved for the relationship that once was — a boundary was set.
I know that love covers a multitude of offenses, but I am also acutely aware that repeat offenses can separate even the closest of friends (Proverbs 17:9). We had tried to work through the tension, but at some point you end with forgiveness and that is enough. Today, I find myself thinking about her from time to time, wondering how she is doing. And, rather than having cries from a hurt heart, I utter prayers for her and her family. From a distance, I ask God to bless them, keep them safe, and give them favor.
But the loss of that 20-year friendship left an enormous, gaping hole.
Even though I consider my husband my best friend, companion, and confidant and would call my mother my dearest friend…I still lacked the closeness of a true girlfriend who was in the thick of life with me.
Let me be clear, though, I do have wonderful friends that I can call or text and they will go to battle with me. I do have a tribe of women that I would call my own. But for some time, I possessed the deep-seated need to have a close (emotionally and geographically), “best friend”. I had a certain sense of lacking; that I did not have “my person”… A Laverne to my Shirley, a Piglet to my Pooh…
To be completely honest, writing these words as an adult feels a bit silly and trite. Yet, I know I’m not the only one that has these emotions. So, rather than wallowing in my personal pity party, I decided to do something about these desperate thoughts.
I took them to the Lord.
Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a biological sister, but…
I asked God to give me a sister-friend.
Psalms 37:4-5 captures the essence of a pure request when it says,
“Delight yourself in the Lord,
And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
Trust in Him also and He will do it.“Psalm 37:4-5, AMP
We are given permission to ask of the Lord as long as we are seeking Him first and our request falls within the center of His will for our life. Hebrews 4:16 says that we can confidently come before the Lord with whatever we need:
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”Hebrews 4:16, NKJV
God knows our desire to be known and to be loved.
He made us for companionship. But there is an accountability in a prayer like this.
In fact, there’s a famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that says, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” So, I cannot expect the perfect friend to miraculously appear in a puff of smoke and instantly, we become besties. I have to be a bit brave and put myself out there. Like my three children, unabashedly making new friends at the playground, I have to do my part…I have to TRUST God and DO good (Psalm 37:3).
So a little over a year ago, I got a bit brave.
I was sitting on a spinning bike, front-and-center in class at the gym, when five minutes into the class a cheerful, head-band-wearing lady came fumbling into class. With repeats of, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” and “Excuse me!” she worked her way through a full class to an empty bike in the row behind me. I looked back and smiled. Over the next few weeks, I saw her come in and out of the gym with her two little ones and I knew instantly that we’d have motherhood, headbands, and a love for the gym as a common denominator.
So one day, I got to class early, kept a bike open and waited for her to bust through the door in her typical Kramer-like fashion.
And sure enough, she did not disappoint.
Before she schlepped her belongings to the back of the room, I turned around and waved her forward — pointing to the empty bike next to me.
That moment was a little over a year ago.
Since that time, we have forged a bond that I can only consider divinely orchestrated. We have so much in common and I know that this friendship truly is an answered prayer.
Whether you’re four, forty, or eighty-four everyone needs a friend.
Everyone needs a Mya to their Angela.
So, if you’re feeling a bit sad and alone, I encourage you to step out and be a bit brave. Reach out to that mom at the park, the lady you keep randomly running into…or maybe there’s that woman who’s got something that draws you to her — and you’d just like to get to know her better. However, if the thought of those ideas makes you cringe and it goes against every grain of your introverted personality, that’s okay — just find other ways to make grownup friends.
Remember: YOU have to BE a friend to HAVE a friend.
I’d like to leave you with some challenging thoughts and would love for you to share some of your successes in friendship with me (here in the comments).
- What’s ONE thing you can do TODAY — or this week to engage a new or old friend?
- Think of TWO people you will purposely reach out to THIS month.