How To Make Friends and Maintain Them…
What??? Is that even a possibility?
We as women would love for there to be a simple answer to this. I believe that if we were to be honest, loneliness creeps in whether we want to admit it or not. We have all had friendships that we call seasonal, in which they are. But with the passing of the seasonal friendship, our hearts take a hit of disappointment.
If we could bottle the formula of how to make friends and keep them, we would be wealthy beyond measure. But this choice simply is not available to us. Therefore, this is a perpetual issue for us as women.
Throughout scripture, friendship is addressed, but personally, I love the picture painted of the women that gathered at the well. Story after story women gathered at the water source. So, take a walk with me as we gather at the well…
I think we would be shocked at how progressive people were in the bible times. There were temples built that sustained war and history. Structures that stood so tall they even tried to reach the heavens. They perfected trade and clothing woven to produce beauty. But there was one task that had to be done daily…every single day…and there was only one way to do it. That task was to draw water from the well. From Genesis to the New Testament, drawing water is portrayed.
Imagine this with me…as each woman stepped from their home, they looked across the road to find other women stepping from their homes. As the walking to the well began, the crowd of water gatherers would grow. As the crowd grew, women would cluster into smaller groups with the women with whom they were most familiar. These smaller groups would begin their daily conversations. They would talk about the highs and lows of their day.. They would share frustrations with their husbands or children. They would share favorite recipes or new cooking techniques.
They would laugh and they would cry. Then they would do it the next day and the next. Their walks to the well became less about water and more about the gathering.
In our current day, we have no need to walk to the well to draw water. I simply walk to my kitchen sink to turn on the faucet. There are no conversations with other women. No laughter, no tears as I pour myself a glass of water. Just a short walk on a lonely path.
We live in a crowded, yet isolated world where we walk alone. We drive in our cars alone, we go to the store alone, we even take walks alone. We have filled our lives with daily chores as we become strangers passing in the dark.
Where is our well?
Where is our gathering?
Do we set ourselves on a course for purposeful friendships?
I once read that if we have five friendships in our life that “carry our mat”, “sharpen our iron”, “gather at the well”, then our life is full.
That is a great thought and goal, but extremely difficult to do in this crazy busy world.
As I thought about this for my own life, there were two thoughts that came to mind…PURPOSEFUL and PRODUCTIVE.
These friendships do not just happen, they must be purposeful. If I want to have these friendships, I must become that friend. I need to become a friend that is purposeful in expressing my relational needs. We hold back on this expression for fear of being “needy”. Of course, there is a line that needs to be drawn of not being too needy, but we cannot draw that line if we continue to carry ourselves as though we do not need anyone. We live in a society that teaches us to need only ourselves, but unfortunately that has produced an isolated world. Our churches are filled with this isolation. We gather on the weekends or mid-week exchanging the latest on the weather or what our children are doing, but connection is lost for fear that we may appear disconnected.
So, what can we do?
What is the answer to this dilemma?
The answer is in our pocket. Our means for connection never leaves our side. It is called a phone! We need to pick up our phone and schedule lunch with a friend or potential friend. We need to schedule a walk with a friend…shopping or coffee. And at the end of that conversation, we need to learn to be bold and say “hey, would you like to do this again next month?” If that friend finds us needy, then maybe that is not the right friend. Find another and be purposeful with her.
But not only do we need to be purposeful, we need to be PRODUCTIVE. An important question to ask is, “What water did I draw” from that conversation? Was it frivolous laughter which can be so underrated yet so needed? Was it a listening ear? Was it a voice given to a friend who needed to hear? Was it a pointing us back to Jesus? With each purposeful conversation there needs to be a productive outcome. We need to ask, “what are our conversations producing”? If you cannot answer that question, then keep looking because that purposeful, productive friend is out there. We just need to open our eyes and our hearts.
Written by Melody Westbrook. Melody Westbrook is the founder of The Walk Ministries, a ministry designed to bring women together through God’s story. She was a pastor’s wife for 35 years and has authored the book The Walk Back to Eden (still waiting publication). She is a communicator who loves to tell God’s story written within each of us while using her personal experience of a broken marriage and childhood survivor of abuse to communicate God’s redemption story. She loves teaching real women real stories of real life from God’s word. You can find her at http://facebook.com/thewalk.edw/.