If I have learned anything over the years, it’s that we need each other. We all need friends. Whether you have fifty, ten, or two friends, you know how much those relationships mean to you.
If I have learned anything over the years, we need each other. We all need friends. Whether you have fifty, ten, or two friends, you know how much those relationships mean to you. Friendship is celebrated in Scripture. Proverbs 27:9 says,
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” NIV
My friendships mean the world to me, and as I've gotten older, I've noticed that although I don't have as many "friends" as I did in my younger years, my friendships are even stronger. As life changes and shifts in different directions, it can be hard to stay as close to someone as you'd like or thought you'd be able to. It takes mutual care and consistency for friendships to last through many seasons, and it's also hard to make new friends as life shifts you into new locations, seasons of life, and workplaces. I'm part of a generation that has seen the world both with and without social media. And while it has been fun to stay connected to people I have gone through seasons of life with, the truth is, without social media, many of those friendships would have naturally dissolved already.
I have always felt there are essentially three categories for different levels of friendships: moment, seasonal, and core. Moment friends are the ones that stick for a moment in your life. Seasonal friends walk through life seasons with you: work friends, college buddies, or small group friendships. Core friends are, in my opinion, lifers. These may be considered best friends, where you both work hard to keep the friendship running whether you see each other often or not. So, what happens when you have to move, start a new job, or join a new church? How do you find new friends as lift shifts all around you? I have a few ideas...
Look Around You
2019 to 2020 were two of the hardest and most challenging years I've experienced. Not only did we all go through the pandemic in 2020, but before the end of 2019, I found out my job of 11 years was coming to an end. This meant a change in my workplace, the patient population I worked with, my co-workers, and, ultimately, where I lived. I was nervous as I changed jobs in 2019 and settled into a new home in February 2020. I relied on my core friends for prayer, talks, and advice. I knew my world was changing, and while God prepared me mentally and spiritually, it was a really hard process, the difference in my surroundings during such a short timeframe.
Because of this change, old work friendships shifted, and some new work friendships grew. It takes a while to feel a groove, and I was so grateful to have made a few friendships in that timeframe for help, support, and guidance in the new workplace. Since 2020's ending, and through a series of Godwinks, I actually changed my job setting again, which opened the doors for me to work back in an area close to my heart and develop even more friendships. Have you recently moved and are now trying to find a new friend where you work or go to church? Remember not to put so much pressure on friendships since we know different categories of friends exist. Sometimes God puts people on your path for a short amount of time and other times, it's years on end. Remember, you are placed in settings for a reason. Look around you to see what and who God may want to impact through your presence in that place.
Reach Out to Someone
Keeping friendships going is a two-way street. It's really hard, especially as you age, to stay in close relationships with all of your friends. It also feels that people have less initiative to hang out or reach out than ever before, especially since the pandemic. Giving grace to people should always be our first step but also take inventory of your interactions and history to see if that friendship may have run its course or if it just needs a little more attention.
I like to think about what I would want in a friend if I were going through a new season of life. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes can really help you to take a deep breath and not take friendship changes too personally. If a cherished friendship changes, reach out to find someone in your current season of life. The last time I moved, I attended community group events held through my church to meet people. I had to reach out, sign up, and go to an event filled with potential strangers that shared my faith to open the door for me to make more friends. If you want a friend to ask you to hang out, reach out to them. If you want to go to a certain place or do an activity, reach out to someone you think shares your same interests. I love being invited to activities by friends, but I have also found it fun to be the initiator. Being the friend you want will always put you in the best potential possible to make true friends. You might be the new friend they have prayed for.
I have met some of my favorite friends at a volunteering activity. I met one of my best friends of the past 20+ years while we volunteered at a college function and found out how much we had in common. Volunteering your time to serve others at church or in your community will put you in circles with people who share your values and beliefs. Friendships thrive when you have more in common. As life shifts around you, remain open to discovering new interests: running groups, knitting circles, the greeting team, or children's ministry at your church. I have loved serving at churches I've attended over the years. The people I grow closest with usually serve next to me. If you're single, like me, and want to meet more people at single's events, you could volunteer to check people in and put names on familiar faces. Or, if you are new to a church, you could volunteer on the greeting team, which could put you in a location to see and meet more of the people who attend!
So, as life shifts, remember finding new friends is all about being open, trying new things, looking around, and thinking of others more than ourselves. Don't be afraid to feel lonely. Use it to grow your ability to empathize, reach out, and love others. Loving others is our calling as Christians, after all:
“...Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Stígur Már Karlsson /Heimsmyndir
Mandy Smith started her blog, My Joyous Heart, in 2011, began freelance writing in 2013, and is now the proud author of Almost There: A 30 Day Journey Where Tomorrow’s Uncertainty Takes a Back Seat to the Promise of Today. Mandy is single, currently working as a full-time speech-language pathologist, and lives in Atlanta, GA. Communication in its many forms has been a major part of Mandy’s life thus far personally, professionally, and spiritually. You can read more of her writing at www.myjoyousheart.com and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
Video credit: ©RhondaStoppe/SWN