I have a confession to make.
I have a great community of friends. And I don't know why.
One of the greatest gifts of my life is the group of friends I have around me. They are funny and profound. They are near and yet respectful. They are consistent without being annoying. They like me.
[And that last one, well, that would really be enough.]
[Oh, by the way. That's the cornflower blue dress I told you about in July. Perfect for twirling.]
Since I moved to Nashville in 2008 and fell headfirst into this gorgeous group of friends, people ask me often, "How do I find a friend group like yours? How do I find the perfect community for me?"
And I think I just have to be honest and say I don't know.
I have some thoughts. I have some ideas. I don't want to call them "tips" because "tips" implies that there is a way to achieve this on your own.
I think it would be the same as if I asked you, "What did you do to get married? Like, what magic words should I pray or where should I stand or what should I google to find my husband?"
There are no magic words. I'm sorry.
I know some of you are desperately lonely for community. For friendship. To be known by someone in your world in such a way that a shift of your eyes tells them the whole story. I get that.
I hope, in some ways, you can find at least a smidge of that community desire here at (in)courage. We want to be those friends for you. But as much as we love our onlineness [and trust me, we do love our bloggy-friendships], these can't replace face-to-face friendships.
So where do you find those friendships? How do you cultivate community?
1. Location! Location! Location! Are you going places where you can meet friends? Think about places like the gym, church, a small group at church, a local coffee shop, classes at your community center. Go there and be brave. Say hi to someone.
2. Hobbies. Find a hobby and then find people who love that hobby. One of the first things I did in Nashville was find a book club. I love reading and I love talking about the books I read, so book club was a major win.
3. Say yes. When you get invited somewhere, make yourself say yes. At least for a while. Even if it is uncomfortable, even if you aren't sure you want to go and meet someone new, even if the girls who invite you seem different than you. Say yes. Be available to new friendships.
4. Pray and pray and pray. God knows your heart. If you are asking Him for friendships, if you are genuinely seeking community, He is the God who provides.
We were made for, meant for, community. If you are looking for friendships, if you are looking for connection, if you are looking for other women to share stories with, I hope and pray you find it. It's a treasure.
Those girls in that picture? They are a treasure. A gift handed from God to me. We are strange and normal and funny and serious and everything that is right in my world is imprinted with a fingerprint from one of their hands.
May the gift of your community come in such a hilarious and caring and meaningful package.