The last day or so I've been so lonely (or maybe self-pitying or both) I've felt like crying. I went to a meet-up today. I invited some ladies from church and one came. She and I got to talk for a bit before other ladies came. Nothing too deep, but I haven't really talked to her before. She's quiet and I don't get to talk to her much, so I don't know if she likes me or if I bug her or what. I had fun though. Then ladies from the group came (the woman from church isn't part of the other group). I wish we hadn't gone and joined them, it was more fun one-on-one. She had to leave early, and I sat there in the group and just felt left out. I was supposed to be there, I was invited, these people have a good bit in common with me and it did no good. It's not necessarily their fault, though they could have tried to be a little bit more inclusive. I'm just odd. If you know me and aren't sure if I know I'm odd, rest assured, I am fully cognizant of that fact. I get Encouragement for the Day from Crosswalk. When I got home I read it, even though someone forwarded it to me before I left. This has been my life for the past few weeks at least. So here's what I stole:
Connecting with Friends
By Renee Swope
"I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:15b (NIV)
Devotion:I noticed that I had developed a habit of checking email repeatedly. One morning I checked it as soon as I woke up. Then I made breakfast and checked it again. Had my devotional time and checked it again. Ran some errands and when I got home, checked it once more.
Now, I have a thing about keeping white space in my inbox, but this was more than just managing emails. My heart was going back for a reason. I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to pause and ask myself, "Why do you keep checking your email?"
I sat there and let my heart respond honestly. I wasn't sure if it was God or me answering, but my soul intertwined with His Spirit whispered: "You keep coming back because your heart longs to connect with a friend."
Somewhere in the busyness of life I had let many of my friendships reduce to quick connections via email. Over the past year my schedule had gotten so full with kids, school projects, family needs, investing time in my marriage, and new responsibilities at work that something had to give. I didn't want it to be my family, so I asked God to help me find balance.
I'd felt Him leading me to cut back on the amount of time I spent talking on the phone, socializing with neighbors and hanging out with friends. Although I hadn't completely cut out my friendships, my face-to-face connection time with my friends had been reduced to a minimum. That morning as I sat at my computer, I realized I hadn't found balance. The pendulum had swung too far.
Here I was checking email repeatedly, trying to fill a God-created need for relationships with a white screen and black alphabet keys.
I knew I needed to make some adjustments to find a better place of balance, to fill the lonely place in my heart with friends I could talk to and share life with in person. That day I closed my laptop and called one of my closest friends. She happened to be available so I took some time off work to spontaneously meet her at a coffee shop and go for a walk. It was just what I needed.
Friendships are not easy to build. Time is limited with lives that keep us so busy. But in this age of technology, it's important to evaluate things in our lives that create a false sense of connection like email, television, text messaging and overboard activities. Although these things are okay in moderation, they can't substitute real-life connections. We have to intentionally carve out time for friends that are in close proximity. Times where we can share what's going on in our lives and, like today's verse says, encourage one another with what God is teaching us. Long-distance friendships are precious to me, but I also need friends close by. That day I learned that there's just something in my heart that is filled when I connect with a friend in person.
God created us for relationships where we can see each other, hug each other and talk to each other face-to-face. Jesus knew this need, as well. He encircled Himself with intimate friends -- first His Father, then His close friends John, Peter and James and then the other nine disciples. He also had friends like Mary, Martha and Lazarus that He spent time with sharing what He was learning from His Father, laughing and having a meal together. He modeled for us the picture and the power of connecting with friends.
Dear Lord, You created me with a need for friends. Yet, I find myself rushing through my days with little time for heart-to-heart connections. Help me to seek You first as my ultimate Friend, and then reach out to others so I can have and be a close friend. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Grow Closer to God and your girlfriends on the Girls Get-A-Way Cruise with P31
A Walk to Remember: Living and Leaving a Legacy DVD, with Renee Swope
Traveling Together, by Karla Worley
Application Steps:Visit Renee's Blog to read and share more girl-talk on women's friendships today.
Make a list of friends you enjoy being with. Call or email them to set up a time to get together for some girl-talk. If you're not sure who to call, ask God to show you someone you can begin a friendship with. Invite them to lunch this week.
What are some of my biggest obstacles in developing real friendships?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" (NIV).
It was a help, I just don't know who to re-connect to. So if you're feeling sad and lonely and need a friend, I'm here. Call me, e-mail me, whatever. Let's feel lonely together and see if the feeling goes away.