Over the past few months, I’ve made a new group of friends. Making friends at any age can be hard, let alone when you’re a bit older. These friends came at a time when I was feeling as though a shift were coming in regards to my intimate community. For me, the body of Christ is everything, and not having close family ties over the course of my life has left me independent beyond words and extremely alone and at times unbearably lonely.
I don’t know where you fall in personality, but I tend to be the initiator. My top love language is quality time, so more often than not I am the one initiating connection with my friends. I love it because that is how God wired me, and yet it can become quite exhausting. I think everyone wants to be seen and known, but not everyone knows how to build those types of relationships.
Friendships take work. They take effort. They take time and care and pushing past differences. They can be awkward, hard, and messy. For any friendship to stand the test of time and display the Kingdom, there are some foundations that must be laid.
1. Consistency is the key to authentic connection.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
I know you’re thinking that you are too busy and can’t possibly be consistent at being consistent. I have found that I don’t need to do anything fancy or out of the ordinary to connect with my friends. I really do just want to do life with them. Recently, I went to several sports games of my friends’ kids, and I had the best time! And their kids thought they were super special because I came, so it was a win-win. I was able to be supportive and have quality time with my friends. I love breaking bread with my married friends and both encouraging and learning from them, and I’ve also been walking a lot more with my dear friend. We talk about all things Jesus, church, the Word, family, dreams, disappointments — all the things!
These are some ways I have been gathering with my new people. It ends up not being so hard to be consistent when we are just living life and inviting others in. These have been some of the sweetest times I’ve had in community in a long time.
2. Our gifts are not just for us; they are also for others.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)
Navigating new friendships is a journey, but it is a journey worth taking. I feel as though the Lord has accelerated these new friendships, and I have been blessed beyond any expectation. I have experienced an abundance of generosity. I have been able to speak some well-timed encouraging words into their lives. I have been able to serve and meet some needs. I have been encouraged in my gifting and calling and purpose. I have even had a hard conversation where truth, love, and connection were the goal. Journeys are not only about the destination, but about who we are becoming along the way.
3. The body of Christ is the heartbeat of God.
Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (HCSB)
My new friends Kristy and Kayla recently told me how amazed they were that I came into their body of believers only a short time ago and seemed to fit right in. Kayla repeatedly tells me that she forgets that she hasn’t know me longer than she has. Kristy said that it felt like the Lord just placed me there and grafted me in. I honestly held back a few tears when she told me. She knew I needed family — the way God designed family. I never seem to get over this need, but that is actually how He likes it.
He created us for fellowship with Himself and with others. His heartbeat is the body of Christ, with all of its varied parts, working together as a whole to honor God, encourage each other, and share the love of Christ with those around us.
Friendship at its best is reciprocal. It is give and take. It is shared. This new community has been a breath of fresh air to my weary soul. I have been intentionally thought of and included. I have felt incredibly seen and known and valued. The Lord knew my heart needed them before I did, and these friendships have been life-giving because their very breath has been given by the Giver of life.
How have you struggled or succeeded in building authentic community?
Consistency is the key to authentic connection. -@karina268: Click To Tweet