Practicing friendship

I attended one of the community organized Girls Night Outs for our new neighborhood on Sunday night.  I’m not officially signed up for neighborhood emails or registered in the app, so I got wind of it through some of the gals who are always in the know.  When they invited me on Friday, I had my typical internal mixed reactions to a fun invite:  “I’m SO tired, last night was my big GNO.  Sunday night??  Boys are still home from school tomorrow!  My to-do list is SO long. . . My Christmas Tree is still up!”  

Every excuse in the book filled my mind.

But when I looked at the calendar, we were “free”.  Because I value building community in our neighborhood and I adore the friends I’ve already made here, I watched my fingers type, “I’m in!” with a mixed sense of childlike excitement and a misplaced grown-up fear of overcommitting.  It turned out to be such a fun night for all of us, who were complete strangers only months ago, to huddle up in our little community room laughing and telling stories.  Of course

I love this picture because it represents the way a group of women, with a common connection, can so easily become friends.

We have kids of all ages, we’re empty-nesters, some of us moved from around the corner, at least one of us moved from the other side of the world, and lots of us are new to Texas.  Whether we moved from around the corner, or around the world, we’re ALL new to our community, which creates such an instant connection.  I’ll never forget meeting Shasta Nelson for the first time, when she explained why adult friendships are so much more difficult than friendships when we were kids.  We had a common place we met as kids.

Most of us were forced to go to school, whether we liked it or not.  

After school, we’d go to the park to play with whomever was there.  We had extracurricular activities like sports, church or arts to meet up with another group of friends.  We had common friends in many areas of our lives, just because that’s the nature of being a child.  In Shasta’s Circles of Connectedness, she explains that these are our contact friends and common friends.  We don’t have to try very hard, they’re already there.  But as adults, it’s easy to stick with the “easy” friends we already know.

It’s also easy to feel lonely, isolated in our homes with our busy lives.

In this neighborhood, we all had friends where we came from.  But here now, we’re all brand new.  We have to start over and for most of us, that doesn’t feel easy or natural.  So we have to learn to practice our friendship muscles.  Shasta explains it like this:

Exercise is a good metaphor for meaningful friendships…We go in to a gym expecting exhaustion and discomfort — even wanting it!— as proof of our exertion. We understand our physical health requires intention and energy. Unfortunately, far too many of us don’t realize the same is true for friendships, too. We have forgotten that relational health doesn’t just happen to us without emotional sweat, practice, or effort. It’s time to remember that we can learn to create the friendships that really matter in our lives.
Shasta Nelson, author of Frientimacy, How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness

You may not have a new neighborhood, but maybe you haven’t met your new neighbor yet.  

Maybe it’s been a while since you stepped out, past your comfort zone to include someone new in your circle of friends.  Maybe you need to introduce yourself to that woman you keep running into at work or up at the school.

Your circumstances will continue to change.

You will always be “busy”.   Making new friends likely won’t ever be without awkward, uncomfortable moments.  But it’s worth it.  We need each other, whether we admit it or not.

Go ahead and work those friendship muscles. 

Be a friend to someone today.

to more love,

Crystal

P.S.  If you’re looking for something fun and easy to do with friends, both new and old, join us at “Bravehearted Cookie GNO” on February 7th!  It’s a cookie class to inspire you to follow your heart, even when you’re scared.   (Seats are limited and they’re already filling up!)

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