About the Author

Lisa-Jo is the best-selling author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood. Her newest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You invites us to get a good look at our middles and gives us permission to embrace them.

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  1. I’m not a mother (yet), but this habit of assuming the other woman’s got it together? Even at 21, I’m good at doing that πŸ˜› Kristen wrote a post a few days back (http://chasingblueskies.net/?p=5367) about confidence…at the gym. Ha.

    Oh, that Bible study story’s funny – not that I’m laughing here at your expense or anything πŸ˜› But…point taken. Indeed, “You shall seek Me [in community, love, friends] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer 29.13).

  2. “amazing how disarming it is to say it out loud.” that is truth isn’t it. we are disarmed when we say it out loud. when we confess where we’re at, how we see things, who we are. it’s like laying down our defenses. i love that. thanks lisa-jo. truly appreciate the story and heart in it. –kris

  3. I really needed to read this today. I have been struggling with all of the things mentioned for a long time. It’s hard being the “newbie” You look around and see all the circle of friendships and wonder how you are going to jump into the circle. That’s when your insecurities start messing with you and that’s when you retreat, run, grow bitter, and quit. It takes courage, only from Christ to give us strength to step out of our comfort zone. I am in this exact season, my family has been visiting a new church and there are friendships that are seasoned, but I have to continue to remind myself that we are not the only new ones. There are other women, moms, and wives that feel the same way I do. I just need to pray that God in HIS glorious assigning crosses our paths! Thank you for this today…it was just what I needed!

    • A lot of women can relate with this. We spend our whole lives comparing ourselves with one another. What a big distraction and Lie! This post was refreshing and much Appreciated!

    • A lot of women can relate with this. We spend our whole lives comparing ourselves with one another. What a big distraction! This post was refreshing and much Appreciated!

    • Tricia,

      I can relate to your story. I used to be very very shy and was a “newbie” for a while. It was hard to see all the married people and families having fun and yet you feeling left out.

      I changed churches and joined small groups and made some good friends. Through it all God was there for me.

  4. Lisa, this is so simple but so profound. Why do we do this to ourselves? We put ourselves in a boat and assume that we’re floating all alone, the hunchback weirdo of every group. I’ve long suspected that we all have an inner Jr high girl inside… but I guess we’re just all girls, eh?

  5. Hi! I have been struggling with depression, anxiety attacks, and no interest in anything I used to have Internet in.

    As it turns out, I am not the only one. I have been opening up in my Bible Study prayer request time…and it is amazing how much good advice and encouragement I have been receiving from women who have also been there!

    God is so good!

    • Tracy,
      Good for you for opening up. It can be scary in Bible studies when really, that should be the easiest place to share openly. I hope find great healing and great friends there.
      Erin

  6. I so get this, LIsa-Jo. As my kids grew older, I realized that the time I could devote to friendships became less and less–it’s just how it is. I keep saying that if I have friends on the “other” side of motherhood, it will be a miracle. Thankfully, I have a small group of friends who keep pulling me in. I’m grateful for that.

  7. Hi! I have been struggling with depression, anxiety attacks, and no interest in anything I used to have Internet in. As it turns out, I am not the only one. I have been opening up in my Bible Study prayer request time…and it is amazing how much good advice and encouragement I have been receiving from women who have also been there! God is so good!

  8. So true Lisa Jo! I was as fearful of this at 13 as I was at 30! At “over 50” now I remember “everybody’s perfect, until you get to know them”. We have all been disappointed, hurt, lonely. Whether in a friendship season of feast or famine, I try to embrace the day, and the age of the women God pits around me. Right now is really weird…all the women who call me for lunch are in their 20’s – women I pray for, and build in to their lives. I’d do about anything for a friend who understood hot flashes! I’m grateful for my {relatively} empty nesting online group, but am desiring deeper face to face, prayer walk close, friendships. Kindred spirits. God knows my needs, & I trust Him, draw nearer to Him. He is my BFF, always!

    • I hear you Marina! How did everybody get so young??
      I am blessed to have a couple hot-flash friends but each of us is truly coming to realize that God is our BFF– His grace really is sufficient.
      Blessings as your gray hair comes in, sister!!

      • OH! You girls wouldn’t happen to live near Rochester NY, wouldya? πŸ˜€

        Seriously though, I am right there with you, hot flashes, almost empty nest and all. Just prayed that each of us would find just the companions that He desires for us.

        • The Rochester, NY caught my eye, Diane!! I live in Rochester- but I’m 37 and pregnant. Not quite hot flashes yet, but love connecting and seeing God bless relationships. I will try and find you as I happen to be friends with some pretty wonderful empty nesters. πŸ™‚
          And great post, Lisa-Jo!

  9. This is so true. I’m so glad to see someone say it out loud. It’s so much easier to carry our burdens when we have someone to share them with and in our insecurity and fear we think that everyone else has friends, has it all together. I’m a shy introvert. Even at 61 it’s hard for me to step out of my comfort zone and reach out to women. I’ve been rebuffed too many times to make it easy. But I keep doing it because -Girlfriends, we need each other!

  10. So true Lisa Jo! I was as fearful of this at 13 as I was at 30! At “over 50” now I remember “everybody’s perfect, until you get to know them”. We have all been disappointed, hurt, lonely. Whether in a friendship season of feast or famine, I try to embrace the day, and friendship of the women God puts around me, no matter their ages. God knows my needs, & I trust Him, draw nearer to Him. He is my BFF, always!

  11. This is a great story and such an encouragement. It is so easy to assume the woman next door has it all together. I meet with a group of ladies every Monday night and we call ourselves “Monday Night Girls.” We do dinner and Bible study every week. Such a great time.

  12. This is so true I’m the newbie in church and I find myself just group watching. Maybe I will find the courage soon to say hi.

  13. The funny thing is, even when we understand we’re not the only ones, occasionally, the thought still pops into our minds. We have to remind ourselves to take even those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Him. His truth about our identity is all that matters, and when we fully get that? We can see the identities He’s placed in others. Good stuff Lisa-Jo!

  14. I so needed to hear this…to be reassured that I am not the only one that feels this way. In fact, I think it is something that I need to hear over and over again.

  15. “I resisted for a good long time.” Yep…that is my right now. I hear Him speaking to me but I feel like I am whistling and looking the other way as if He will move on! The “church thing” can be so challenging to those once hurt by the “church”…or rather church people.

    Thank you SO much for these words. They are another confirmation that He wants ME to get over myself and stop being so self absorbed!

    Hope all you ladies have a fantastic weekend!

  16. I think you might just pooossssssibly have inspired me to start a sort of Tuesday night Bible study of my own.

    Possibly. πŸ˜‰

  17. We recently left a church because we had been there for 18 years and felt out of place, unloved, and almost friendless. Only 3 people have even called us from that church, only one remains a true friend to me. We have been gone for 8 weeks or more and only one older man called my hubby wondering where we were. My husband has no friends from there. We were even in a small group and they, I assume, started the small group back up after the summer and not ONE of them has called us.

    This is the second church we have left. The other was many years ago. And, we hung on at this church long after most of my family wanted to leave because they were waiting for God to make it apparent to each of us that it was time. Oh, and I was in a ladies Bible study also. I was the last hold out. I could go to church and come home and have no conversations with anyone. My husband has been unemployed for 31 months and people just don’t understand. Oh, the pain. The pain of feeling unwanted, unloved, friendless.

    • Debbie,
      I am so sorry for that bad experience that your family had! It truely is heartbreaking, we experienced something like that after leaving our Church home of 10 years & people that we thought were good friends just disassociated with us πŸ™ but there is hope sister! We found a wonderful Church family & there are many strong friendships that we have formed here & as painful as that experience was for us it was worth it b/c our marriage grew stronger when we felt like we only had each other & the friends we have made at our newer Church (3years there now!) are friends for life & most importantly they are godly friends πŸ™‚

  18. This is so me I love God and he is my strength but I want a friend to do things with,I have friends but they are taken by their families or illness in a bible study with
    30 weomen of all ages butstill fell like the odd one out I fell dumb so I don’t say much in bible study so I’m for sure the problem hereI miss been needed so ashamed to feel this way!

  19. We are the Tuesday morning girls :). And our “girls” range in age from 30s to 40s to 80s. Over the years some of our girls have moved away, some have started working jobs that keep them from us on Tuesday mornings, and right now we are waiting with bated breath for The Lord to call one of our girls home–the walk through cancer through which we have accompanied her.

    Oh, I don’t know what I would do without my Bible study girls! Our communities are so important– this is where Jesus takes on skin in our lives. I’m grateful for this community here too–this place where Jesus speaks strong into the lives of so many.

  20. Beautiful, thank you! Such a poignant reminder that when we choose love, spirit is amplified in ways beyond which we can imagine.

  21. Thank you for this reminder. I feel the pain of it, moving, becoming an empty nester, leaving community… all in one day. Yikes!
    Seems, that is how God teaches me, and when I find myself standing back, hesitating… I wonder what happened to me? Then, sometimes… I remember and I speak, step out, keep looking for new community. Slowly, God opens the doors, I get a peak and I smile.
    I love the reminder to be the one who moves…. even in the new place. God is there and when He nudges, how lovely to follow His lead. He will provide the way.
    I am so glad I read this today.
    I need the community of faithful ( not perfect:)) women.

  22. Oh I am so good at believing other women are not lonely and have friends. I AM SO LONELY. I am such a “Banshee Mama” at times and I always feel sad and cry about it I am still working on cultivating friendships in my new home town. I’ve been here a year and a half already and I am puzzled. I am leading MOPS group and I still feel like I don’t belong entirely. Sad I know, but Lisa Jo-you always know what to say to make me feel better. Thank you for your gift of realness.

  23. This is SO true. When I started the MOPS group at my church, I can’t count how many women said that they were DESPERATE for community, and I was shocked. I guess we all look like we’ve got it together?!

  24. I can relate to much of this—as a military wife, moving every 1-4 years, we just don’t have time to wait around to see if someone will include us. Sometimes we have to jump in right away. It’s hard. It’s really hard! For introverts it’s near-impossible. But then we who are extroverted in some way keep our eyes open for the one who’s new at PWOC, or chapel, or in a civilian church, and we go over and say hi…….

  25. I love this: “a new friend waiting on the other side of the question”. And I love that you took initiative, Lisa-Jo. The way we tell ourselves that “we are the only one who feels such and such” is so isolating and untrue! My experience in reaching out to other women is, more often than not, I find understanding and kindness waiting for me, and as you said, a new friend.

  26. It is so hard to build new relationships. It feels like dating all over again (I never did like dating.) Will she like me? Will our kids/husbands like each other? Will she call me back? What if she doesn’t, does that mean that I offended her, she doesn’t like me or she’s too busy? I’m part of a MOPS group which should theoretically produce friendships but we are all so busy that other than at MOPS itself, I haven’t formed many friendships that survive outside of twice monthly Tuesday mornings. Seems like every play date or organize or girls night I plan ends up being a one-off and no one seems to want to get together again. I get tired of always being the initiator and the organizer, and otherwise no one seems to invite me. It’s tough for sure. Isolation kills confidence.

  27. Thank you, Lisa-Jo. Wow, look at these comments. . we–I– just need to keep hearing it . . .that we’re not alone, that not everyone else has it all together. I lead a small group called My Girls and it continues to be a place I am desperate for–to be reminded that I am not alone–although, honestly, there are so many days when I want to pull back, not be vulnerable, not let my girlfriends in to show them the real me. And that is when I know I absolutely, have to go–to trust Him, to be reminded that it is this very place of vulnerability that community begins. Thank you, friend.

  28. Dear Lisa-Jo, you hit me where I live once again. It has been about 14 years since I chased a tot, but now that he is 16 and his sisters are 18-22…I still feel like a newbee. We have a great group of daytime Bible Study goers, but the evening group is small. I had one Bible study with two woman and the next time it was two different woman that signed up and this go around no one signed-up. Makes you wonder if you have an extra ear or something.
    I am going to try an online Bible Study for the “night ladies” in my Church and anyone else who wants to join us through my blog after the New Year. Meanwhile, I need to get ready for a job interview today and see about covering up that 3rd ear. B)

  29. What? You mean there are others like me out there? Whew, I so thankful!

    Thank you Lisa-Jo for keeping it real, and helping us all to take off the masks and make new friends. Love You, Girl.

  30. I can so relate to this. In fact, reading these words made me wonder if you peeked into a corner of my thoughts. Sometimes the weight of it makes me want to just crawl into a hole … or my PJs … and stick close to home. But even while there, I see so many women connect so easily on in the internet, and I wonder where I’m going wrong, which in turn makes me pull into my shell even more. Friendly, easy going, engaging on the outside, insecure and lonely on the inside.

    I’ve really been seeking the Lord about this and was encouraged to read your words here today. Thank you, Lisa-Jo!

  31. ah-may-zing
    I cried all through reading this. I’ve always been on the outside.
    I so feel this way. Being a military wife, it seems by the time we have to move again we’ve just started feeling comfortable, just gotten around to making some friends and then we leave. I need to be more proactive and jump in. I’m doing better. We’re only halfway through this tour and we’re getting involved. Utah is a hard rock to crumble though! Thank you for this eye opening post. I will share with everyone I know.

  32. Wow – such true words about how we see others and ourselves! I’ve been going to my church’s ladies’ events for a few years now, and I still have that “squirmy awkward feeling” every time I arrive – wondering who to talk to, who I’ll sit with, what group do I dare try to join. But it’s getting better, and next time I go I’ll try even harder to be the one who speaks up – thanks for reminding me that there can be friends on the other side of that. As an almost-empty nester, I have more time now to spend with girlfriends, but the old ones have gone (they’ve changed and I’ve changed), and I sure could use some open, honest girl-time, hot flashes and all!

  33. Thank you. I really needed this. I can relate to several of the storied I’ve read hear. Being in a church for 18 years and having no one call or even check on me when I walked away. Working nights with 5 kids, one of which has autism, makes it just that much harder. I have always felt like I didn’t fit in and sure feel like I don’t have it all together. Maybe, just maybe there are others in my shoes. I am going to try harder to ini

  34. WOW! I have not heard banshee mama since I lived in VA some 20+ years ago! I was a lonely soul then, who also assumed that everyone had someone but me. Like you, I was wrong, and some of my dearest kindred spirits still live there even though we moved away. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  35. I am literally in tears over this one. Im tored of feeling “odd man out” and so I am finally stepping out and trying to “do something” about it. Tonight is our very first meeting and I’m so encouraged that by this post…thank you!!

  36. I’ve learned that making friends is a lot like baseball for me. I have to go up to bat, keep my eye on the ball and swing – a lot of the time I miss or strike out. Sometimes, I get that hit and have to run with it. It takes work and persistence. I have to make a conscious effort to seek out others and make time to develop them. If I’m willing to be bold, I can compensate for someone who isn’t. It’s really scary at times, but the reward can be sooo worth the risk.

    I also want to know more about this “banshee mama” thing. I’m pretty sure I am one and I’m glad there are enough others that there is a name for it!! πŸ™‚ Love you, Lisa-Jo!

  37. Oh how good it is to hear this. I thought, well to be honest, still think, that I just must not be good enough to be friends with. It seems EVERYONE around me has awesome friends and I’m the one that never fits in. Such a sad and lonely feeling. I just know that God makes ALL things work together for my good. And that if I let Him lead me, I will never really be alone. πŸ™‚ May God bless you for sharing this and may He also bless every woman that reads it and can relate.

  38. I’m so glad that God inspired you to take that first step. I guess I need to learn to reach outside myself. I have those same thoughts, everyone else is a friend…I assume they go shopping or out to lunch together and I’m the only one not included. Time to reach out…

  39. Love this Lisa! It is so real and so “us”. I have felt as you stated my whole life, and struggle with the confidence to step out. I too, have shakeningly began an at home Bible study for a group of ladies, and even 7 years later, get shakey when I hear of someone ‘new’ coming to the study. But I will survive!
    I like you have said, the roots have been planted and are growing. We have years of life happening between us. We have been there for and with each other. Eight years ago I would have not thought I would have been hosting Ladies Bible studies at my home, (“I just couldn’t, I can’t speak in front of others!”) You help me realize, it is more than getting together, it is letting guards down, taking masks off, and being real. It is building relationships and realizing we are not the only one who may feel inadequate at times. I just love how God weaves people into our lives!!!

  40. Love this.
    I ALWAYS feel like the odd one out in my church where I’ve worshipped, known my sisters-in-Christ, and developed relationships/acquaintances for nearly 25 years. πŸ™ What a beautiful, lasting and nurturing experience the Tuesday Night Girls must enjoy. God bless!

  41. As someone who has been searching and praying for friends this came at a perfect time. Thank you for encouraging me with your words!

  42. Amazing how much I can relate to this story. I, too, feel like the one that doesn’t fit. I did start a bible study group for folks who I thought were like me, but it didn’t have a happy ending like your story. The others that joined the group found that they had age, ailments and grandchildren in common. It happened again! They are happy now in THEIR group. I felt like I didn’t belong in my own group in my own living room! Back to square 1 for me…

  43. It bothers me that I still struggle with this. Even among the people I do know. I’m thankful I have a few really amazing women in my life that I can be comfortable with, but I wish I could find that key to being over my assumptions.

  44. Thanks for this….we meet in the midst of the mess, friends who need to be known. I’m still in the middle of reaching out, some days discouraged that I feel on the outside, and other days surprised by the triumph of finding hope. πŸ˜‰ What an encouragement!

  45. So encouraging! It is always SO important to push through the moment of fear and reach out with a hi & a smile. Thanks for reminding us that most women love to be asked, included, invited…no matter our age! God loves to put us in community to “do life” together.

  46. My eyes literally welled up with tears when I read this post. I so feel this way. Am so lonely so often and can’t seem to connect with anyone, though I want to. Even the women in my church are not really “safe”. So what does a woman do when she can’t find safe people to connect with outside of her spouse and kids? I know I need more connections, though it can be just a few women to pray with, talk with, laugh and cry with. I’m praying that the Lord will send some my way or point me in the right direction.

  47. Lisa, I haven’t been to church in years because of this very thing. Oh, I’ve tried…gone to different churches, but always came home with that same fear and outsider feeling. That’s when I figured out it was me. My expectations were too high, and now that I read your post, it makes so much sense. When I read (or tried reading through the tears) your post, I was so convicted, I know just like other commentors, I needed this today. I fight depression, anxiety, loneliness and care for an aging parent. I know God is watching over me, but I also know I don’t rely on Him enough, counting only on myself. My shoulders are just not that big. We all need God first, but friends really count a lot. Thank you, dear Sister in Christ for this blessing today!

  48. Love this! I was new to my church as well (8 years ago) and hid by the library for a long time because I wasn’t sure who to talk to after church. I got involved in our weekly Bible study (called Coffee Break) by teaching the preschoolers while the moms did their thing. It was my safety. I got to know people as time went on – and now I lead one of the mom groups. God is amazing when we just let go!

  49. WOW!! This sure struck a cord didn’t it??? i call it FOMO. fear of missing out. cause EVERYONES having more fun than me right?? im 51 and God is pruning my friendship tree. i am patiently waiting for Him to bring me good Godly friends that will be a good influence on me and visa versa! Thank you for bringing voice to this. so many of us apparently relate!! hang in there ladies! i wish i could be a friend to all of you!

  50. Thank you so much for this read!
    I have been feeling so out of place recently everywhere, work, church, even at times within my own family. And I have been feeling the nudge and need to start some kind of bible sturdy at my home here in Guatemala for some time now but have been resisting it. Your message has encouraged me to move on beyond my fears and act! Thank you!

  51. I love hearing more and more of these stories…but I guess it means that more and more of us are feeling alone! We all just get so inside our heads. I feel the same way in so MANY ways — I would put everyone but maybe one person I know on the list of They Have More Friends Than Me, For Sure.

    It is all about just showing up, and then staying present to make meaningful connections. Which can be hard with toddlers wrangling for our attention, tired babies and sweaty husbands, but the more you show up the more of you seeps through. I know some day I’ll have a “2am friend” β€” but until I do I feel the absence of that friend. It’s sad. I just have to have faith in God’s plan!

  52. I used to think all people “had it together”. Everyone seemed so happy & content. That was until a few years ago when I started attending a Women’s Bible study at our church, The women, even pastor’s wife, would open up and tell stories of the husbands & families. It is soo refreshing to be open & real with these women & to really really know them from the inside out.

    I truly do love all my Bible study women friends@!

  53. I have a group of friends who started that way and funny thing it was also on Tuesdays…14 years later we are still getting together once a month at least for a while it was on the second Monday of the month. These women have been my rock, my salvation and my best friends….We have been through soooooo many things together. a few years ago we did a photo shoot and it was the best. I have pictures through out the years, special memories and the best friends I could have because we started a bible study.

  54. Loved this. This is exactly how I think. Recently someone told me (about herself) that what she’d been hiding behind as shyness was actually selfishness, waiting for others to come talk to her. I’m trying to initiate more and remember that all of us are broken, with hurt and fear somewhere deep inside. Thank you for writing about this so beautifully. (and I love the phrase “toddler-hard days”!)

  55. Ahhh, so me! I’m so happy to hear that I’m not alone. I desperately need more spirit sisters in my life. It feels like friendships are more difficult to start the older I get.