I can remember wanting so badly to be the “new girl” when I was in middle and high school. What would it be like to start over? Not that I didn’t like my friends…I just thought it would be a grand adventure to meet new people and build new relationships.
Well, after nearly 10 years of constant moving and transitioning, I’ve found being the “new girl” isn’t all I dreamed it would be. It’s exciting, but even more exhausting.
I’m fortunate to have found some pretty incredible friends during college. We were different, crazy, immature, failing-at-life kids, trying to navigate boys, our futures and our faith. But somehow in the midst of those formative years, I walked out with lifelong friends. Maintaining these friendships isn’t easy, (see recent post about this journey) but these women GET ME. They know me in a way that seems impossible to duplicate. They’ve seen me at my worst, watched me grow up, stood beside me as I fell in and out (and back in) love again, helped me make some of my most important life decisions, and still love me.
Quarter-life crisis realization: building real, quality friendships after college is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
As Steve and I have moved from place to place over the last few years, seeking new, deep friendships almost always seemed like too much work. I have a group of women who are a phone call or text away– why try? But now, as we mark two years of being here in Central Iowa, I feel like its time again. My heart isn’t restless anymore. I love it here. I want to stay here. I want this to be home for a long, long time. But to continue to grow into who God has called me to be, I need people. I cannot thrive alone. I need sisters, women who know and love me and can encourage and build me up. Yet with this desire comes a level of commitment and vulnerability. It means maybe it’s finally time I start letting people in—past what is accessible via Facebook and Instagram.
It’s easy to have surface friends. Friends to whom you say,
“Hi, how was your weekend?”
“Hi, did you have a good day?”
“Hi, want to sit and have coffee and talk about how tired we are from chasing after our toddlers?”
It is a completely different story to sit down with someone and say,
“Hi, how is your marriage?”
“Hi, will you pray with me?”
“Hi, I’m struggling with lust. Will you hold me accountable?”
The second set of questions comes with deep vulnerability and trust. Trust. How do you know whom you can share such deep, personal things with? Of course you aren’t going to go up to a stranger and pour out your soul, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I have more of a pride problem than a trust problem. Pride keeps me from letting people into the less-than-perfect corners of my life. Sure, I’ll let anyone see my messy house, but the messes in my life. Um, no thank you.
This is a scary friendship step, but the reward is so much bigger than ourselves. If we make this bold move, we may have just opened a door for the other person to share as well. All too often we hide our flaws and sins in darkness where they gain power and build up shame. But, when we open up, share our struggles, and create a safe place for prayer and accountability, beautiful, healing and transformative things start to happen.
What is equally terrifying to share with others? Dreams. Goals. Aspirations. Why? Again, pride. There are things I dream of for the future of my family. Things that come with great risk. Things I’ve shared with only a few souls on this earth. Why? Because it’s scary to share something that seems bigger than you. How will it make me look if this never happens? A failure? A crazy person?
A few days ago a new friend sat across from me in my living room. We sipped hot chocolate as the conversation went deeper than the day-to-day. Then, out of nowhere, I shared a future dream of mine. I felt exposed. I was sweating. Sharing this part of my heart is almost harder for me than sharing my weaknesses. But it was so freeing, and I felt more “me” in front of that friend than I ever had.
Allowing ourselves to be completely FREE in who we are, comfortable with our past and in our present, is one of the biggest challenges I believe we as women face. There are so many expectations at all stages of life. A single woman should be like this. A married woman should be involved in this. A mom should act like this. And the list goes on. I often find myself so wrapped up in trying to be who I should be, instead of being who I am. These unwritten expectations and unhealthy comparisons hold me back in friendships. I want to get close to you, but not too close so you see who I really am.
Lately, God has been revealing to me the power of Kingdom community– imperfect people loving one another, sharing in their joys and sorrows, struggles and dreams. Lifting one another up in prayer and encouragement, holding each other accountable, all while building HIS Kingdom, together. This is scary stuff– vulnerable, heart-on-the-line stuff. But I think I’m ready to take the risk.
May God fill you with peace and confidence in who you are and who He created you to be, allowing you to grow in friendship and freedom.
Will you join me in taking a step toward a life-giving friendship this week?