A few weeks ago, my friend reminded me of an upcoming bible study at our church focusing on female friendships. I kind of rolled my eyes at it, but the fact that they went out to eat as a group afterward and there was a whoppin' 3 hours of free childcare with people that James was already familiar with had me agreeing to go. Turns out, it was fantastic and I ended up looking at my phone a ton, not to text or pass time, but to take notes.
I should take a moment to note why this study worked out so well for me, personally. The first reason is that it was light on the actual bible study part. I feel like that sounds terrible to actually say but I'm standing by it. As an off-the-chart extrovert, it feels like a huge tease to put me in the middle of a room full of people, study something together and tell me to not talk to anyone. I just can't do it. Instead of diving into specific verses, over the course of 3 meetings, we heard from a variety of women and how they are intentional with their friendships. Within their testimonies we heard the verses along with practical applications. It spoke to me so much stronger than reading the verse would plus I got to know the speakers a little better. They allowed for some great discussion time within our tables and a small list of open ended questions were placed on each table as a sort of conversation guide. It worked fabulously. As I spoke with friends who sat at other tables, it became obvious that there was a desire among almost all of the women present to build and maintain those deep, intentional relationships with other women. A lot of the "ah ha" moments that happened for me really weren't mind blowing revelations or anything I hadn't heard before, but were incredibly powerful to have reiterated. So, I wanted to quickly pass along some of my favorite takeaways from the group.
1. Reach Out
It can feel really uncomfortable to shoot a text out to an acquaintance, inviting someone over for a meal, playdate or to just suggest hanging out, but it's such an important step in developing that friendship. Putting yourself out there feels weird and leaves you a little vulnerable, but it's step one in diving deeper into developing a friendship.
2. Say Yes
Just as important as reaching out, is saying "yes" when someone reaches out to you. Sometimes, it can be inconvenient or outside of your comfort zone, but being willing to say "yes" is small, seemingly simple, but a pretty huge step.
3. Don't be Jealous
This one feels silly to say, but it happens to all of us at some point. Especially with social media, it's easy to see who is hanging out with each other and kind of revert back to those middle school feelings of jealousy or allowing some insecurities to bubble up to the surface. You can't expect to be the focal point of someone else's friend circle and as hard as it is to push that FOMO feeling out of your mind, you should do your best to be supportive and delight in other friendships being cultivated.
4. The Importance of Modeling
This one felt like a lightbulb going off as well as a "duh" moment for me, if you're able to somehow reconcile both of those feelings. Allowing your children to see you develop meaningful, intentional friendships is kind of huge and honestly, never entered my head. I mean, sure, I want James to be raised in a community that supports, encourages and regularly prays for him, but I really didn't think about how it will impact him to physically see me involved in a community of women who lift each other up.
6. Be Intentional
Sure, this one is a little easier said than done, but it's essentially my biggest takeaway. Don't be afraid to make conversations intentional, asking "how can I pray for you," "how are you, really," "how are you and your significant other" or by simply diving a little deeper than what they thought of the latest Game of Thrones episode (my go-to right now). Be intentional with communication, getting together and following up.