How do I risk it all again?
Is it just me, or does it seem like making friends used to be easier?
The other afternoon I was standing in my front yard enjoying the fall colors, smells and cool temps when my state of autumn nirvana was interrupted by the sound of little neighbor boys barreling down the street. I found myself mesmorized by their innocence and just watched them for a bit. When they stopped at another neighbor’s house I overheard the following take place:
“Hey, can you come out and play?”
Soon, another young boy ran out of the house, out with the other boys and they all began bouncing around a basketball, fighting over which college basketball team was better than the other. What I noticed the most was how comfortable they seemed. You could tell they were of varying ages but it didn’t matter. Each one had a place and they belonged.
I remember being that age and having a similar experience with my girlfriends. Granted, we were playing “house,” “school” or some variation of “pretend” … but I remember how comfortable it was. There was always someone to play with and all it took was a couple knocks on the door and one simple question, “can you come out and play?”
But why and what point did all this get so difficult?
I moved away in middle school, leaving my childhood friends behind. And from then on, it seemed I never fit in. I even had a friend in high school go as far as to say that I was holding her back from her own popularity potential … and that was the end of our friendship. She became cheerleading captain, and I spent most days in a darkroom developing pictures for yearbook or in a practice room for vocal competitions.
In recent years, I’ve come into my own a bit more, but this idea of being popular or not, or liked or not, or valued or not has followed me into adulthood. Often times I just feel defective. Always taking the bump along the way onto myself—reverting back to a shy, self-conscious high school girl—just waiting to be crushed under the wheel again. And I have no doubt that this fear holds me back from truly genuine, and life-giving friendships and possibly contributed to the downfall of a couple of my closest friendships (or so is the belief of my Life Coach).
Some of you reading this will have no clue how to relate to this struggle. Making and keeping friends has always come easily to you… and that’s awesome. But I wonder how many other women (and men) struggle with making and keeping friendships (out of fear, anxiety or some variation). How many of us have been hurt enough times that it almost seems easier now to just fly solo?
In processing a lot of this, I am realizing just how hungry I am for a real community of friends. I am truly lonely. Granted, I love the friends the internet has brought me. In fact, I am indebted to them. And my friends who have moved away (it sucks when friends move away, can I just say that?)—I love having the technology that makes it possible to stay connected. And the friends I do have close by are wonderful.
But my heart is craving more.
My heart is craving genuine live community—a real group of girlfriends to laugh with, cry with and hug and commune with. It has been a while since I’ve felt this way, and to be honest with you… I am scared. I am scared of what it will mean to expose my heart again—of what it will mean to open up again—of what it will mean to risk being hurt again.
CS Lewis says, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
I am sure good old Lewis is right about this. But I struggle with trusting that this is truly out there for me.
I know this a pretty vulnerable post from me today. Definitely not what I truly intended on writing. So, feel free to break the tension a bit by commenting with a joke or something. Ha!
You’re making me cry today. Not because I feel sorry for you, but because I can relate to it so personally. I have had similar situations throughout my life ending in frustration, anger, and a lot of lonely days. Ever since I went to Jr High smelling like a skunk (literally), I’ve struggled with trusting girl friends. Thanks for sharing and letting me know I’m not alone.
It is comforting to know that I am not alone, but also sad. I hate to think that anyone else feels the way I do sometimes.
I have to agree with Karen…I have tears in my eyes, because I can relate so well to this. I have always said that I have alot of acquaintances but very few friends….
I crave that intimate friendships that can only be had with those we trust most….but when we don’t trust how can we achieve that intimacy. It reflects not only in relationships with friends, but also in my relationship with God.
Thanks for sharing….
Live community is really important.
I mean, you can’t do Beyonce’s dances with your online friends can you.
And life can’t be full without that.
PS…Captcha makes me laugh. The spamstopper for this comment is “frumpy nondollar”. Of course.
So, that’s just funny. I sometimes feel as if I am a frumpy nondollar :)
Wow! So I identify with part of this but not the other. I have lost friends and even gone through periods where I had no friends… I think this will be the subject for my blog as well. I grew up with a single mom and we always moved. The difference between you and I is I am not shy. I am very extroverted and my volume and personality has always been my “cover”. We all feel vulnerable when it comes to relationships I think. Being a parent… I always think it is funny to watch my kids make friends. They will ell me they have a new friend and when I ask what their name is… they answer “I don’t know”
PS. my captcha is: declines vietnamese… wow those are funny!
glad we have each other now! almost as if God knew. hmm… imagine that!
Crystal, I think every person knows how this feels. I certainly do… it’s an ongoing thing for me, although being aware of the fear, but also the need for real relationships is a good place to start. I want to suggest a couple of things.
1) You might want to read a couple of books – they really changed my life. One is Boundaries, and the other is Safe People. By Henry Cloud and John Townsend. In my own life, I’ve realized that making wise choices about who and how I connect with people, means that there is less pain involved with those connections (not none, just less). There are healthy relationships and unhealthy ones, and once I figured out how to be in healthy relationships, things have gotten a little easier for me. It’s still hard, just not as hard.
2) I have a lifegroup that meets on Monday nights. It is made up of incredible women, who are real, and safe. You are welcome to join us. We’d love to have you!
You are in a good place right now. Hard, maybe even painful, but good. The kind that real growth comes out of. I know cause I’ve been there.
Thank you for the book recommendations. Both sound awesome! I’ve often looked fondly at your lifegroup in the past as something i wish i had again. I will definitely pray about it. Thank you for your invite. Love you, too!
I’m still around…i havent moved anywhere. I’m up for hanging out any time. :)
Actually, Crystal, I can completely relate. Even though I didn’t move in middle school, I was pulled out to be homeschooled at that age. Ever since, I’ve had difficulty making friends–especially ones close to my own age–and keeping them.
Because of my myriad of interests and my personality, I almost always feel like an outsider–even in places where I shouldn’t, like my life group. So, don’t feel like you’re an outsider, ’cause there’s lots of people like you and me. And we should stick together.
Anytime you want to get together–and we crazy writers should stick together!–let me know. :)
Crystal, I understand exactly what you mean. I am fairly outgoing but struggle with feeling truly comfortable with people I just meet – all due to past hurts in my life. As adults we deal with realities we never knew existed in childhood. (or at least I did not) It just takes me longer to feel truly accepted now and that makes me more reticent, and unsure – or maybe insecure – in relationships. It’s not fun. Yet I do believe community is where we are transformed, redeemed and loved on in a physical way by God himself! So press on! and I will too.
What? You too? I thought I was the only one!
Seriously…I’ve been thinking about the same things lately. I think part of the problem might be that we tend to give up too easily on people when they don’t jump to our initial invitations. Folks who’ve been hurt in some way don’t trust right away and while they may crave togetherness and community they’re afraid of being burned again. We need a lot of grace now more than ever.
You’re blessed, Crystal. I can see there are lots of people who love and care for you. I think perhaps you’ll find being vulnerable here today will be benefit you in off-line world very soon. :)
Thank you for being such an encouragement!
i can relate to this story. i was just wondering if you are in a life group at church ? i now have awesome friends because i am in a life group. i have never had any real close friends my entire life until now.
I believe the enemy loves this…the very idea of people feeling inadequate or even not worthy of friends. I read a book once (well, more than once) but it talks about what that must have felt like for the God of the universe to come to man in the form of a man. In the Old Testament so many feared him, saw him as unapproachable. To then come to us in the form of a man…and to interact with others who would see him as approachable and as a friend must have been an amazing thing. Christ had close friends…he had groups and he had a few that he let in even closer.
The enemy wants us to keep others at a distance…but our Heavenly Father calls us to love others.
Sometimes I think it helps to change our focus. Look around us…we are surrounded by hurting wounded people. So many need a friend too. They may even be surrounded by people…but all alone. Ask God to show you how to be a friend…and to open the door…provide the person that needs a friend too. It may be who you least expect it to be…and it may be with someone you never thought was “safe” to approach. God knows your heart…I believe he created you with that need to be close to others. He will give you what you need…He created you…if he wants a relationship with you, why wouldn’t anyone else?
Be confident in HIM…we don’t need to be confident in our own abilities to befriend others. Trust him….he will give you what you need….and the enemy will be crushed beneath your feet as you take that step of faith.
You see…if God’s in it…it’s not you they either receive or reject. Soon…you will see what the rest of us who are privileged enough to call you “friend” see. A girl who has a heart for the Lord…now that’s pretty attractive quality. *Hugs*
What you wrote, “the very idea of people feeling inadequate or even not worthy of friends.” is soooo true. how dare the enemy make believe such a lie. i am thankful for you speaking truth into my life. love *hugs*
i come from the other end of the spectrum. i make a LOT of friends…always have been the “crazy social butterfly” even when i was a kid…but being that person is difficult as well.
even if i have a lot of “friends” the reality is… i can only count a handful of friends who really KNOW me. all the rest “think” they do but they really dont. most of those handful of friends have moved away as well… right now i think i’m left with 4 people who know who i really am without me having to say a word. those kind friendships are treasures coz they are so rare.
God knows how important it really is to have covenant friends in your life… like Jonathan & David; Naomi & Ruth; Paul & Barnabas. Even Jesus needed Simon (a stranger) to help Him carry the cross =] God knows having friends who can support us is so vital for us to continue to walk into our destiny.
im thankful for online community as well. hopefully our daily blogger/twitter convos & our love for Jesus, ministry, food & carlisle will make us even better friends…. & hopefully when u visit LA we can share a cup of coffee & eat dimsum together as well =] (im not sure if kansas has dimsum. LOL)
It’s a date!!
Thanks for sharing this…I have this same struggle as well..I dont have the answer, but I know that God will provide it for you, he cares for us and knows the desires of our hearts.
I’ve been thinking on this a LOT lately, too (even if I’m only just catching up on my Reader). My variation? Not only have I never been popular or easy to make friends, but the adult friends I’ve made have pretty much ALL moved away. It gets harder every year to find and develop friends. And when the single ladies my age are around – trust that they’re going to finish whatever graduate program they’re in and move away – makes you not want to try (and I’m getting too old to befriend ACTUAL college students). How to find people? I’m at a loss.
I can totally relate to this. I am married, but there are some times when i want to hang out with the girls.
I have “friends” in the sense that we would hang out, but no one locally that i could call if i needed someone.
I wish we lived nearer…cause i am sure we would hang out all the time. Cause i love ya.
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