Myth: “I’ll always have close friends around me.”
Maybe if I didn’t know what I was missing, it wouldn’t be so difficult.
When my husband followed God’s call to move to Ohio after serving at a church in California for eight years, I was devastated. I’d assumed that we were going to be at our church and part of that community forever. We were settled in an established neighborhood with excellent schools, and we lived close to the beach in a house I simply adored. I was part of a circle of Christian women who had become my dearest friends. We met once a week for coffee and often talked to each other throughout the day. I thought I’d always have them in my life. However, God opened a unique door of ministry for my husband in Ohio, so I did my best to trust him as we packed our things and moved cross-country.
Even though my husband has been on staff at this church for three years now, I wouldn’t say that I have any real friends here. Of course, I’ve met many women through Bible study groups and parties we host in our home. The people here are warm and hospitable. My husband and I love our new church, and my kids are crazy about their youth group. But I miss having a girlfriend I can confide in or call on a moment’s notice to go shopping or out to lunch. I don’t have any of those “just stop by” kind of friends. Some days I feel so lonely.
It’s not as if I don’t have any friends. My “California friends,” as I call them, get together once a year for a girls’ weekend. It’s as if no time has passed at all, and we catch up on each other’s lives. Then it’s a long flight back home and back to life as usual. I keep a busy social calendar, as you’d imagine a minister’s wife does, but is it too much to ask to have one close friend here?
Women need close, meaningful friendships with other women. It’s the way God uniquely designed us! While men may be content to have one or two close friends in a lifetime, women are more likely to keep up with a range of friends—friends from grade school, college roommates, co-workers and neighbors from three neighborhoods ago. However, at times we may end up in places with no one on our side (like Moses in Numbers 12).
Relationships change. Life moves us on to different places—both physically and emotionally. A job change, a move, a time-consuming project at work, the birth of a child or the dissolution of a friend’s marriage—all of these can drastically affect our friendships. Remember, friendships are not a given. We can’t take them for granted and assume that we’ll always have them.
If you feel relationally dry right now, consider the following:
- Start by examining your friendship with God. God is the only ever-present friend through all of life’s circumstances (see Deuteronomy 31:8). Are you cultivating that friendship as you would a relationship with a best girlfriend?
- It’s possible that you’re in a place in life where God has not given you close girlfriends. What is God trying to teach you by forcing some alone-time?
- Consider changing your expectations for friendships. It’s helpful to realize that some friendships never become very close, and they last for only a season. Don’t close yourself off to these short-term opportunities just because someone may not become your best friend. You may be surprised how and where a friendship may develop if you give it a chance.
- Take the initiative to cultivate relationships that may have gone by the wayside.
“A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are.”
—Gale Berkowitz, UCLA Study on Friendship Among Women, 2006
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”