|art by Rosalie Garde|
I was never good at making friends. Much of my life, I was an introvert with social anxiety. It took me a lot of years and practice to open up. As I grew, I would have one or two good friends and that was it.
When I moved away with my husband for a job transfer in the 90s I left what few friends I had behind. I had to rely on long-distance phone calls and letter mail. Because I was an introvert, I didn't make those phone calls. And I missed having connections.
I assumed friendships would stay the same and when I would move back home I would be embraced by old friends. It didn't happen. They had each seemingly moved on with their own lives.
Pray for Your Friends
I decided one day that if I really cared about these people I should pray for them. I should not look for how they could fill my needs but for how I could bless their lives.
Do you pray for your friends?
I also prayed that God would restore old friendships at the right time. Eventually, a few old friendships did get reinvigorated. Prayers were answered.
If you desire authentic relationships, pray for your old friends AND pray that God will bring you new friends.
Value in Authentic Friendships
Women friends are valuable to have because of the way our interaction with them strengthens us at our core. When friends are authentic in sharing, we are able to make sense of our own life. For instance, at a recent lunch with friends, the topic of using store-bought mashed potatoes came up. I'd been buying them recently to cut dinner-making corners but sometimes felt I was being lazy or extravagant. You can imagine how relieved I felt hearing a friend say she makes potatoes out of a box!
We also shared about our aging parents and struggles we have had over worrying about our adult children. Sharing helps us put our own lives into perspective. We know we aren't alone in our struggles.
|art by Rosalie Garde|
Be Willing to Initiate Conversations
Being an introvert and working from home while living away from family and friends for so many years due to our job transfers, I learned to make the most of basic interactions. That meant starting conversations with whomever I might bump into--mostly sales clerks, office receptionists, and the like. We all need human interaction and, at times, talking to a store clerk is the best I can do.
I've learned that not all sales clerks want to interact. I've also learned that sometimes my interaction is timely. One lady I struck a conversation with thanked me because what we talked about prompted her to make a doctor's appointment she'd been putting off.
As I shared with another woman recently about just having come from having a full-body massage, she felt prompted to make an appointment for herself--something she too had been putting off.
Hearing from each other and having others to share our life stories with is important.
More Than Networking
I didn't know where to start when I moved where I live now, but since I worked from home, I saw the opportunity to join in business networking groups. I participated because I wanted more than chit chat or another Bible study.
These types of groups are helpful, but at times, you can feel like just another potential customer or audience member. The conversation in these groups may become repetitive and you may find you are constantly questioning the motive of others.
If you're a business woman who has to network for her job, be mindful of your motives. Try to see others as human beings, not just potential clients.
Put it Into God's Hands
I have 3 coffee invitations on the table right now. These are people who on social media said, "We should get together for coffee." Not being an initiator, I am poor at following up. I guess I'm afraid I'll over-schedule myself, waste time, or that the other person will be too busy for what I have to offer. It's always easy to find things to fill our time with.
If you're like me in this way, commit the requests to God. Ask him to set the schedule if you are to meet with others. Ask him to touch your tongue and put on your heart the conversation he wants you to have. Ask him to be your appointment setter. Be his hands and feet by willingly meeting with who he sets you up with.