By Betsy Ringer
Five of us sat at the Mexican restaurant laughing and talking like we had been starved for relationships with other women. We had known each other for a long time, but had never actually been “friends.” You see, we were wives and moms and leaders, always nurturing others or planning events or making sure things ran properly. Each of us had other friends but at this point in our lives most of our friends were not as available or had other things that were demanding their time right now. A common need brought us together – and it was up to us to decide how to cultivate a fresh, new friendship with one another.
A month before we met at the Mexican restaurant, I sent out an S.O.S to many women I knew. I was drowning in a clinical depression so I sent out a call for help. I asked others to pray for me and check on me. I was in a dark hole and I needed others to rally around me. None of us likes to ask for help, but I knew I had to. One of the women I reached out to invited me to dinner and invited three other women to join us. We discovered that we all needed the same thing – supportive, encouraging friendships of other woman who we could laugh with, develop trust in, and have regular activity together. So….we decided to meet twice a month. One of the weeks we would go to dinner and talk and laugh together. The other time each month we would plan an activity like going to a “You Paint Pottery” place, go hiking, see a musical, play games, have a cookout including our husbands or whatever else we could think of. We knew we had to be intentional to grow our friendships as well as committed to meeting together.
Women need friendships. They don’t just “happen” – they must be intentionally cultivated. It takes effort and commitment. If you are wishing you had more friends take steps toward reaching out to others to develop friendships.
1. Look around you. Don’t make excuses for not reaching out. I thought all the women in my “new group” had lots of friends already. In truth, they were looking for the same thing I was!
2. Reach out. Invite someone or a group of others to do something. Invite them again. And again.
3. It takes consistency to develop friendship. Plan a regular time to get together. Read a book and discuss it. Trade going to each other’s homes for lunch. Start a Bible Study. Plan a regular time to get together. My very best friends have come from planning a regular time to be together – and committing to it.
4. A secret about friendship: you will feel like you are the one who is always doing the inviting! Keep inviting. Most people don’t make the effort to reach out or make plans. Decide you will be the one and don’t be a martyr about it.
5. Be supportive. Encourage. Laugh. Pray for them. Send cards. Offer to help them in some way. Do life together!
Share a friendship story. How have you developed a friendship? What step are you going to take so make a new friend? How has someone reached out to you? Let’s share with each other and learn from each other here.
Making the effort to develop friendships adds sweetness to life. Indulge!