This post about When Making Friends Feels More Like Work Than a Party suggested that we plan a "girlfriend gathering" this past weekend. I thought about it for a moment... pictured pretty vases of flowers and tasty treats and lots of laughter. But then... I am going to be brutally honest here... I thought about the possible hurt of everyone being too busy and I let that potential discomfort discouraging me from trying. I have amazing friends. We always have a wonderful time when we gather. It is just so darn hard to make that happen sometimes. Lately, with my social anxiety running high, I am having a hard time putting myself out there. However, I was blessed to be invited to breakfast with a friend on Sunday morning and it reminded me how much I love the amazing women in my life.
I remember those first couple of years after Aiden was born when I would beg God for local relationships to ease my incredible loneliness. And it literally took years. Now, I am thankful for those lonely months as a stay-at-home mama with a heart that was desperate for fellowship... because it was in those months that I truly learned to study God's Word and let Him fill the empty space in my life. I still wanted friends. Still longed for face-to-face connection. Yet I grew so much in my relationship with my Heavenly Father that I would not trade a moment of that earthly loneliness for anything. I also would not trade the amazing relationships I formed online with other women around the world during this time. God provided in His own way, as He always does.
Back to my current struggles, though. I have spent the past couple of years making efforts to put myself out there. I have been the one to approach (semi-stalk) women who I thought could be potential friends. I have been blessed by the women who have shared their hearts and lives with me. This time has been mostly about building new relationships, which has its own set of challenges. But in the past few months, there has been a beautiful addition to the building phase, which is that some of these women are now friends who I feel like I really know and can count on. There is comfort that comes with an established friendship that is priceless.
And yet... with real relationships comes hurt. It is inevitable. Even as I sat in a local cafe with one of my dearest friends, I was reminded of the harder part of friendship. We shared a mutual hurt, and I was hurt by news about a mutual acquaintance... hurt happens when people open their hearts. Even friendships centered in Christ are friendships built by sinful people. And sinful people hurt each other. It was while I was thinking back about some of these recent challenges that I realized God had been preparing me for this stage of relationship building... through posts like this one that shares Five Reasons to Fight for Sisterhood.
I need these reminders to forgive. I need to be reminded (probably even more so) that I have surely hurt others as well. I would not want to intentionally hurt any of my amazing girlfriends, and so I try to focus on that and assume that the hurts that have come my way were unintentional as well. I need the push to keep building, and keep opening my heart... because I am someone whose first instinct is to clam up. I have a lifetime of hurt and trust issues fighting my every effort to make real connections now. Yet I fully believe that in Christ I am a new creation, and He will continue to help me move past those old wounds to embrace the good things He is pouring into my life. This is my desire, and my constant prayer.
Friendship really is hard. It is messy and crazy and full of uncertainty. More than anything, though, it is a gift. God created us to live in fellowship while here on earth. We were not created to walk alone or hide ourselves away. Every time I step out of my comfort zone I am forced to rely on God for strength... and He wants us to rely on Him. Social anxiety may be the thorn in my flesh, but it is also a gift in that it keeps me leaning on the One who can use it for good.
So today's goal is this... forgive and move forward and go ahead and plan a girlfriend gathering. Because the only way I get to enjoy that time of renewal that comes from fellowship with a group of wonderful women is if I put myself out there and keep trying. It is so very worth it. I know this is true.
Linking up with Titus 2 Tuesday this week.