It’s not a secret – we can’t do this life as women alone. And yet – why do we so often feel lonely? So often, we hope to find friends – to be welcomed into a ready-made posse with open arms. But if we wait to find a tribe to enfold us, we will likely be waiting a long time – or forever. In reality, friendship – like art – is a process; and it’s a beautiful one! Instead of searching for the right kind of people, what if we thought about making the community we crave? Here are five ways to look at friend-making as a creative process.
Making friends takes practice.
I’ve run into a common belief that some people – the “extroverts” and the “outgoing ones” – just can’t even go to the grocery store without falling over people who want to be their best friends. That is largely a myth – and a damaging one. Some of the best small talkers you know are just people who have had LOTS of practice. Keep trying, and you’ll get better – just like any other skill!
Making friends takes time.
The friendships that we see and envy are often MANY YEARS old. Good relationships take time – a lot of time – to grow and deepen. My personal rule of thumb is that it takes a year to get comfortable, two years to get close, and at least three years to get to that almost-sister status. Sometimes it’s faster, but it’s rare. The sooner we start getting realistic the better we will feel!
You use what you have.
It’s easy to blame schedules, lifestyles, kids’ ages, or our jobs – but the simple fact is that wherever you go, you’re surrounded by people. Start practicing with them. Make small talk with the mom waiting for her kid at gymnastics, or the woman who always seems to be on the elliptical near you. Push it further by saying, “Hey, you want to grab a smoothie on the way out?” Invite people into the time you have and see how much easier it is than carving out time specifically to “make friends.” It doesn’t matter if you’re not sure if they are “your type” – odds are that if you put in the time and patience, they will be!
You start where you are.
There isn’t any one magic place in the world where all “your people” live. It’s easy to say “Oh, if I only lived ______, then I’d find my tribe,” but after moving quite a few times, I’ve learned there are many of the same kinds of people everywhere. Even if you feel like the odd man out at first, stick with it. Deep down, women share many of the same struggles, fears, and needs, no matter where they live or what their lifestyle looks like.
God as a creator designed relationships to be created, built, and grown.
God designed so much of our life to be a slow, creative process. Growing a baby, falling in love, raising our kids, getting to know Him more – all of these things take time and they’re more beautiful because of it. Our God loves the narrative. He loves the process. He wants to engage us throughout the journey, and relationships are no exception. Each time you move a little closer to a woman – with an encouraging text, an unexpectedly teary time, the first time you offer help – it’s a holy moment. He is a deeply personal God who delights in this process.
So, if you’re feeling like you’ll never find your sisterhood – take heart! God may just be nudging you to being the journey of making. It’s an incredible experience, and worth every moment.