I was scrolling through my Instagram feed yesterday. My friend Alissa Circle posted this picture of some delicious Side Car Doughnuts.
Yes, that’s bacon. On a donut.
Alissa was sharing how nice it was to spend time with friends – sharing life, coffee and donuts with other amazing women. In the comment section below the photo, several chimed in about how delicious the donuts looked (um..yeah!) but there were two comments that caught my attention.
“This is so lacking in my life and I just spent some time this morning praying for a life filled with more female friendships. Love this for you! (And doughnuts are one of my love languages)”
“I have been praying similarly! Seems so hard to find great gal pals!”
These comments just tore at my heart. I could hear the loneliness and longing in the comments. They reminded me of those long, dry periods of my life where I felt the same. Times when I was hungry for friendships and meaningful connections with other women but struggled to find them.
I admit it, even now there are times that I feel disconnected and lonely but it is nothing compared to my early years of motherhood when I craved a female connection that I could not seem to find.
Over the years I have learned a thing or two about friendship and while I am certainly no expert on the topic, I would love to see other women enjoying the rich benefits that true friends can bring. Here is a list of Seven Steps I’ve found that help open the doors to lasting and meaningful friendships.
- Be intentional.
- Be friendly.
- Look for friends in unexpected places.
- Appreciate what you already have.
- Get out of your comfort zone.
1. Be intentional.
This is key! If you want friends, make it a priority to find them and carve out time to spend with them. I know how busy you are. I get it. But anything worth having, is worth your time. So, instead of playing another game of Candy Crush or cleaning the house, call or text a could-be friend. Yes, I just gave you permission to have a dirty house. You’re welcome.
I know. It’s hard to reach out. You risk rejection or even worse, being ignored. But DO it anyway!
There was a time when I was so wrapped up in my own head, listening to my own fears and worries, that I didn’t really take the time to listen to those around me. I was so focused on myself and my own woes that I wouldn’t have noticed a potential friend if she came up to me and hit me over the head!
This step goes hand-in-hand with Step #1. When I am intentional, when I am truly listening, I hear other women and the cry of their heart for the same type of meaningful relationships that I crave. Once I hear it, I can respond with an open hand of friendship instead of a clenched fist of pity.
3. Be friendly.
For God’s sake – SMILE! Let people know you want to be friends. Not in a clingy, stalker-ish way but casually, as part of the conversation. And puh-leeze do not be that girl that nobody needs as a friend. You know her. She’s whiny, complaining, critical, gossipy. I know we all have our moments but girlfriend, if that is your MO, trust me… nobody’s got time for that!
4. Look for friends in unexpected places.
Maybe you are a mom, ‘stuck’ at home with a couple of toddlers or rebellious teenagers. Maybe you’re a single business woman, devoted to your career or growing a business. Maybe you’re retired and the kids have left home. Who says your friends have to match you or be in the same stage of life? Yes, there is definitely something to be gained by having friends who are walking through the same stuff – there’s a certain camaraderie that brings, but sometimes hanging out with other women with the same issues is an invitation to a pity party. All of that commiserating can leave you feeling even more drained.
5. Appreciate what you already have.
Ow! This is something I have definitely neglected to do. I’ve looked for friends when they’ve been there all along! A few months ago, Steve and I got together with our friends Mark and Patty for an impromptu evening of playing cards and just generally hanging out. This is something we do very infrequently. Why? I don’t know. Anyway, as we were driving home that night it hit me. Patty is a dear friend. We have known each other for a very long time but I never gave our friendship the care and value that it deserved. I immediately let her know how much I appreciate her and have committed to giving our friendship the attention it deserves.
6. Get out of your comfort zone.
Do any of your friends or acquaintances have a different belief system than you? If not, why not?
Do you agree on everything from politics to religion to bottle or breast? No bueno. The next time you encounter someone who has a different point of view, consider spicing things up and adding to your circle of friends with someone who will challenge the status quo. Don’t be frightened. That liberal mom or homeschooling parent won’t bite! (Caveat – if they do, drop ’em like a hot potato!)
I love the fact that so many of my friends have disparate opinions. Sometimes our differences can encourage healthy debate but more often than not, we find we have more in common than we originally thought.
If your spirit has been wounded by someone you once considered a friend (oh my, how that hurts!)
If you have been friendly and open and appreciative and willing, but still feel friendless.
If you are terrified of taking that first step and being rejected.
If you just don’t even know where to begin.
Pray. Ask your heavenly Father to heal those broken places, give you the courage to take that next step and find those friends you so desperately need.
And, if you’re looking for someone to share a coffee and a doughnut, give me a call!