To be clear, I agree motherhood can at times feel lonely. It's not because I don’t have friends, but because they’re not my main focus; my family is. If I’m not careful though, I can get consumed in that role of being mom and wife and forget to reach out to friends. That’s when loneliness hits. Thankfully, the solution to that problem is within my control.
As I thought on the issue of making adult friends, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own journey to solid friendships.
It’s been almost ten years since I was a young college graduate. I was rooted out of the church and circle of friends I’d known for over a decade to join my new fiancée in his world. His world, of course, looked perfect from the outside, but once I went beyond the surface things got real.
I wouldn’t say I was immediately welcomed with open arms. In fact, I struggled a lot to get people to step out of their comfort zone and meet me where I was. My phone didn’t ring for months. We weren’t just not invited to things, I believe we were intentionally excluded. I didn’t have a true friend, not even one.
One day, I decided to share my vulnerable heart with the one girl whom I felt closest to since our lives crossed on several occasions. Her cold response left me stunned and ready to pack my bags, “Are you sure this is where you’re supposed to be?” Oh how that stung! My translation of that question was: Maybe you’re struggling with friendships because you don’t belong here. You don’t fit in.
The human part of me wanted to run away and find a new home church and a new circle of friends, but I wasn’t raised that way. I was raised to be faithful and solid. For that, I am thankful. Looking back I realize now that I wasn’t exactly a cupcake myself. I had my fair share of character flaws and imperfections.
Making mistakes that hurt others is part of this thing called doing life together. Having offenses launched at us like Angry Birds from a slingshot comes with the friendship territory.
When I think of all the horrible things I’ve said and done in the past, I crumble in humble gratitude, first because God has forgiven me, and second because my friends didn’t write me off. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. In a culture where we are called to destroy people whose wrongdoings are exposed, God has taught me to be merciful. He reminds me that I too am a sinner. Yes, people have lied about me, but I have also judged people. People have betrayed me, but I have also been mean. People have excluded me, but I have also left people out.
Today, I’m not who I was ten years ago, neither are any of my friends. We have grown, changed, and learned. We are still growing, changing, and learning. When an offense comes flying, we move out of the way. We choose to think the best of each other and interpret each other’s actions based on the belief that we love one another and would not intentionally cause pain. Our gatherings are filled with joy and peace. They are absolutely pleasant and drama-free. I’m sure things are said and done that don’t sit well with everyone, but we overlook them just as Proverbs 19:11 teaches.
I leave you with these three questions for self-reflection:
1. What rules my friendships: mercy or justice?
2. Have I been holding on to an offense?
3. How have I benefited from not writing off my friends?