An Introvert's Guide to Friendship
Recently my friend ML celebrated one of those big birthdays that ends in a 0. So we went ziplining.
And then had a tea party.
Perfect, right? Yes! Absolutely perfect!
Because right after loving the Lord Jesus, her ever growing family (21 grandchildren at last count!), and the church, ML loves women. Women of all ages, stages of life, and types of strengths, weaknesses, and needs.
It's been a long time since I laughed so much. Phew. What a dear group of ladies.
Later I pondered just why it is that someone like me, a profound introvert, takes so much delight in being with other women. Especially women I've known for a long time, shared the joys and griefs of life together. Laughed uproariously with and wept with.
The answer's pretty simple: because God made us - all of us, not just extroverts - for relationship!
These days it's clear to me that our friendship stands today because my sweet friends have so often gone the extra mile to make relationship happen. Left to my naturally introspective self, I'm pretty sure I would have friends, but not to the deep sister level which we share.
Thankfully, God has seen fit to override my concerns and has given me some beautiful sisters to pray with, to share what God's doing and teaching, to love, laugh, and sometimes cry with.
So with the advantage of some hindsight, here are my current thought on those original objections.
1. I don't have time for friendships!
I've definitely said this. And in some seasons of my life, it's been partly true. When I had six, seven, eight, nine children at home, life was super busy! My focus needed to be on caring for these little and bigger ones. Raising children requires hard work and attention. Ironically, in many ways these years, surrounded by many, many children, were very lonely times.
And yet. Not as lonely as they might have been.
Because even in the craziest times, my friends continued to ask me to join them to walk and pray. We couldn't make this happen terribly often, but we kept trying, grabbing a Saturday here and there, especially during summer breaks. Sometimes they just came out to my house. Those visits, infrequent as they were, gave each of us encouragement and strength for the various tasks we each faced, and our friendship grew as well.
At an earlier time in my life, when I had three children, I'd meet with two moms at some unreasonable hour on Friday mornings for prayer. We'd slip away from home before our children were up and return in time to finish off breakfast and start our days. Sure it was hard. But totally worth the effort!
Here's one more idea. I read once of two moms who would call each other to pray over the phone each weekday. They'd spend no more than five minutes praying for each other and their children. Then each would move on to her daily responsibilities knowing her friend was praying for her. What a strength.
2. I don't know anyone who shares my situation!
Yep, this has also been one of my complaints. I had this vision of a friend who would have umpteen children like I did, homeschool them, and share many of the same day-to-day concerns I had. Ha-ha! Somehow I never met her!
And you know what? It doesn't matters! In reality, sometimes the very differences in our lives make our friendships stronger, not the opposite. Do you work and your friend doesn't? So what? Enjoy learning about her days and she can learn from yours! Whether you are married or single, childless or have a house full of children, if you both love the Lord Jesus, that is plenty for a solid bond of friendship! As you begin to share your lives and pray for one another, friendship will grow.
3. But my husband is my best friend!
This has been my third excuse. And it's true - Tim is my very best friend. There's no one I'd rather spend time with than my husband, and he with me. We talk about anything and everything, and he is the first one I always want to tell things to, whether it is about the crazy double agent pigeons used in WW II I just read about (true!) or a deep emotion.
BUT - there's still something different about having friends who are sisters in the Lord! Friendships between women look different than the type of friendship seen in a healthy marriage. Tim takes joy in my friendships with other women, knowing they help me be a better wife, mom, and follower of Christ.
|We've been friends since some of our children were babies. |
And now we're gray haired ladies attending their weddings.
This one was in D.C. last December.
How fun is that?!
OK, fellow introvert, have I convinced you?
But what, you might be thinking, can I do to make a good friend?
I can't take any credit for the friendships the Lord has given in His kindness. But in thinking back over how the ones I have have developed over the past two decades or more, here are a few thoughts.
1. Friendships often are born as a result of working alongside others.
So find opportunities to serve - teach children's classes, join with a couple of other families for a homeschool co-op, work in women's ministries, etc. As you work, you'll build trust and naturally share your lives. Love the women you are rubbing shoulders with and see what God will do.
2. Find one or two other women to pray together with.
No matter what stage of life I've been in - high school and college, newly married, old-time married, no kids, tons of kids - my closest relationships have been with women I prayed with regularly. "Regularly" might be too strong a word for some of those periods, as mentioned above, but we kept trying. Share your lives. Be vulnerable and honest. And then pray. As well as having the great joy of seeing over time God's work in each other's lives, your hearts will be knit together in love.
3. Give it time.
Don't expect deep relationships to happen over night.
4. Sometimes - just have fun!
Deep friendships won't be forged by fun times alone. But a friendship made by years of working together and praying together benefits from plain old fun and laughter. So give it a shot - try ziplining! Or maybe skiing! Or have a tea party!
|Skiing with friends this past winter.|