I've never been one with a huge group of friends. Probably because I have what some would refer to as "RBF," or to put it nicely "an unapproachable appearance."
In high school, I had a small group of friends, but ended up graduating a semester early and failed to continue cultivating those relationships. By the time college started, I had maybe one or two friends from home. In college, I became really good friends with some girls, but in the spring they joined a sorority, while I did not. So those friendships suffered.
And so the cycle went. Create friendships, hang out almost daily for about a year, stop talking or being interested in the same things, find new friends.
I thought that was how life was. I knew others who had friends from high school that they were still super close to; even people who were still close with others from their childhoods. I thought that was really sweet, but not realistic. What did you talk about with someone you used to play tee ball with? Especially if you didn't have the same obvious common interests.
To me friendship was like a magazine subscription. You put what you could into it for awhile, but knew it would end eventually so you didn't get to attached.
At a young age, we are long for community. In kindergarten we choose a "best friend." We want to be a part of something, to be with others. We join clubs, teams, and groups. This isn't something we grow out of. Throughout all of school, we search for meaningful relationships; and continue to do so as adults.
It's been said that we are the loneliest generation.
How often do you feel alone? You would think we'd have to try really hard to be lonely, with social media and technology more accessible than ever. But maybe that's the reason we're lonely?
For instance, according to Facebook I have 357 friends, Instagram says I have 375, and I have 207 contacts in my phone. How many people do I talk to daily? Not anywhere close to that many. And if I'm being honest, the number could be counted by a two year old.
But, let's think about it. There is no way I can stay in touch with 357 people a day... but maybe 5 people? Possibly. So I should be really good at keeping friends. What's my problem then?
Do you have someone you can discuss important matters with?
Friendships are often based on common interests and proximity. When I graduated high school, I didn't have the common proximity of school anymore. With the girls in college, I wasn't interested in their sorority talk because I wasn't apart of one.
When Colin and I got married, I really wanted us to find friends that were "ours." No more "my friends" or "his friends." But people we could start fresh and grow together with. We joined a young married couples small group. Given my track record, it took me awhile to feel comfortable with these people. But after awhile, I started to look forward to our weekly meetings, I wanted to talk to the other girls outside of group, and I started calling them my friends.
They became our community. People we were not only friends with, but people who kept us accountable in life.
If I had to define community this would be my definition: a group of people who are committed to being a part of each others lives and want what is best for you, no matter what. They care more about speaking the truth to you, even if it's hard to hear, and love you enough to give you tough love. Most "friends" don't fit this definition, at least in my life they didn't.
While friendships share common surface-level interests, someone in your community will have an interest in doing what is best for each other and helping you navigate the tough choices and decisions in life.
Community is kind of like family. You don't pick your family based off of your favorite song or movie. Your family is going to stick with you, love you unconditionally, and know the ins-and-outs of your life.
Guess what, Jesus even calls us that. He referred to us as "brothers and sisters," and sometimes "father" and "mother" was thrown in there (Matthew 18:15; 25:40; Acts 1:16; 6:3; 11:29; Romans 7:4; 1 Timothy 5:1-2; Philemon 1:15-16).
God created us to be social, He created Eve FOR Adam right? He also told us why it's needed and how to accomplish true community:
Throughout the last year, the wives in our small group became my closest friends. We are all within the early years of marriage, we were starting families, and we were there for the hard times. They supported and encouraged us the last few months, and have continued to pray for us during our move.
The last month I have struggled with loneliness, through in some postpartum hormones and I'm a joy to be around. We are looking for a church to call home, and I know once we find it we will begin to find our community again.
I never would've thought those girls would have this big of an impact on my life when I met them a little over a year ago. I long for our weekly meetings, I miss seeing them and hearing their encouragement. Technology helps, but I am starting to realize I need physical friendships more than I thought.
I am working to do my part to continue those relationships, because I believe community can overcome the "interests and proximity" of friendships I talked about above. But it still takes work.
I want to encourage you to find a community. Find a small group you can discuss real life with, the good and the bad. Someone you can talk to with no judgement, all love. Someone who encourages you biblically; and would give you Scripture before their personal opinion (which hopefully are the same).
Check in, encourage, and pray for one another.
Jesus lover, wife, momma, teacher, and hopeful writer.