05 Aug 2013

When you wonder why everyone else seems to have friends

The thing about women is that we always assume the girl next door, the women across the aisle, the mom in the car pool lane, your husband’s best friend’s wife, your cousin, great aunt or the stranger in the dressing room next to you at the mall has it figured out.

Whether “it’s” how to balance motherhood with, well, anything else really. Or how to manage her temper or style her hair or stock her fridge or connect with her husband or make new friends.

We’re always certain we’re the only one who feels awkward or incompetent or left out or frumpy or you-name-it.

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For nearly two years after we moved to Virginia I assumed that all the other women at church knew each other. I assumed I was the only newbie and I assumed that I was the only one who felt squirmy awkward in her skin during the meet and greet time that fell in between the worship and the sermon every Sunday.

And I sort of thought God might be nudging me to do something about it.

I resisted for a good long time.

And then one day after church I was horrified to find myself walking over to Laura and asking her if she’d be interested in joining a Bible study. I was even more horrified when she said, yes.

It went downhill from there. Even more women wanted to join and Laura insisted on telling other people about what I’d been hoping would be a very, verrrry small group. Instead on the first night about 17 women arrived and even then I was sure they all knew each other and that even though I was leading I’d still manage to be the odd-one-out.

And then we introduced ourselves.

There were women in that circle who’d been coming to church for decades without ever making a close friend.

There were women who taught me the term “banshee mama” and could relate to what I thought was my only struggle with temper, frustration and sheer lunacy some toddler-hard days.

There were women with daughters who were hurting themselves.

There were women who felt useless and lonely.

There were women who felt like they didn’t fit.

Amazing how disarming it is to say it out loud. Every other Tuesday we kept right on meeting and sharing. We showed up in our sweats or our suits or our jeans and we shared.

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It wasn’t always profound. But we just kept showing up. The Tuesday night girls is what we called ourselves. And while that Bible study is long since done, our showing up is not. Sometimes we go a while before we get back together. But we have roots now. We know parts of each others’ stories. The hard parts.

So when I meet new women now I’m over assuming that they’ve got it all figured out. Especially the friend part.

Now I know that maybe all I have to do is ask and there’ll be a new friend waiting on the other side of the question.

 

{I first shared this post over on (in)courage.}

Comments

{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    “We’re always certain we’re the only one who feels awkward or incompetent or left out or frumpy or you-name-it.”

    Yes, that’s me. I’m always certain that I’m the only one who hasn’t outgrown that awkward stage.

    We’ve recently went through something like this at our church- the awkwardness and assumed cliqueness.

    To get through it, I started serving! And now our ministry has it’s own small group. It took a leap of faith to put myself out there and reach out, but now my husband and I are slowly building relationships with other couples and families. (He has always had an easy time meeting people and building relationships.)

    The “clique” that I saw was really the volunteers who served- they serve together and build relationships together. There is no exclusivity, even though that’s what I perceived. All are welcome and I’m happy to be meeting new people =)

  2. 2

    Ah, Lisa-Jo, I love how you always speak right to my heart.

  3. 3

    You are so right! We do assume that everyone else has it all together…especially in this social media age where everyone looks like they do. It is amazing to see how we are all basically the same.

  4. 4

    While the words were good, it was the photos that did it for me. Tears in my eyes, a wish in my heart, I want what’s in those photos.

  5. 7

    Lisa Jo, I can’t believe your timing in posting this! Just this morning, I met with a group of ladies from church and we were talking about this very thing…women comparing themselves, assuming others have it all together, etc! Thank you for stepping out in faith and reaching out to us mommies who desperately need community!

  6. 8

    I needed to read this today, new town, new church, feeling like the new girl. Time to step out of my comfort zone and reach out. Thank you

  7. 9

    Love your writing! Thanks …

  8. 10

    I always felt like an outsider in church…then one day someone pointed out I was actually part of the in crowd!! Its amazing the difference with how we feel and how others see it. I also loved all the photos. Interesting you should post this today…Katherine Welby posted about inclusion in church on threads today… http://www.threadsuk.com/outside-looking-in/

  9. 11

    I am on the eve of what feels like a huge move. I’ve lived in the same city for a very long time and am moving to another city. One of the things I am concerned about is finding and making new friends. Even though my number of close friends I can count on one hand, but I have what feels like millions of friendly acquaintances that will all be gone in my new home. It’s a little daunting, a little scary and a little uncomfortable being the “new girl” at this juncture in my life. Although I am experienced enough to know that it will all work out according to the effort I put into it, I’m still a little apprehensive. I’m friendly, but private, wanting community, but enjoying my own company and not the most outgoing person so it’s going to be a challenge for me. Thank you for sharing your experience… it give me perspective and encouragement to get out there and start making connections. :)
    :)

  10. 12

    How often we assume, or neglect to ask or plainly think we are the odd one out, when the truth is… women are hurting, alone and we need each other so desperately and none of us have it all together.

    I love reading this post, because it bring joy in my heart and hope that we can learn from each other

    Love
    Renee

  11. 13

    Oh Lisa! I loved every word of this! I love being in a small group, but it’s always scary at first. I love when someone shares a struggle and you can feel the whole group let out a sigh of relief. (Yay! We are not going to be fake–it’s true we all have struggles). Whew! My group has not been meeting over the summer. I miss them. I know we will have some new faces. I can’t wait! Thanks so much for this lovely post.

  12. 14

    I can relate to the newbie feeling so well. I’ve been trending my current hues for nearly 4 years now and have only just started talking and opening up. I fear it was mostly because I was closed off. I am now making. Conscious effort to push myself forward. It’s working. Thank you so much for sharing your story…

  13. 15

    Love this post. Love this post. Love this post.. Speaks to my heart sooooo very deeply.. Your timing is PERFECT.. Thank You for speaking God’s truth to knock satan’s lies back where they belong!!! I am a mama to 5, married to a military man and have had such a hard time finding friends at our new station.. Gonna make it a point to put myself out there more. Thanks for inspiring me along with so many other women!!! Blessings upon blessings to you!!!

  14. 16

    I think any comment I write will merely end in tears, so all I can say right now is “thank you.”
    Thank you, Lisa-Jo, from the bottom of this awkward, lonely, friend-hungry heart.

    • 17

      Rebekah, you hit the nail on the head! The tears are flowing freely due to Lisa-Jo’s words which spoke directly to my “awkward, lonely, friend-hungry heart”. I read a post last night on Stacy Edward’s blog Servant Life which also resonated within me and echoed this message of community amongst women. Community with Godly women, my soul’s cry during this season. God bless you Rebekah, and Lisa-Jo, and all the other women seeking community in this world today!

  15. 18

    Lisa Jo,
    Thank you for this post! I am starting a women’s bible study at our church this fall because of this exact reason…. i think most of the women at our church know each other but don’t KNOW each other. I would be THRILLED if 17 women showed up, but I’m guessing it will be much smaller, and I have to keep remembering that that is okay.

    I am having a hard time pinning down a way to get started…. do you mind my asking what you did to start? Did you do a traditional bible study or a book or just fellowship? I’d gladly take any advice you can offer as I am navigating this with no small amount of intimidation.

    Anyway… thanks for the encouraging post and for reminding me why I’m about to do what I’m about to do. :)

  16. 19

    Im 27 and just now finding out what real friendship means. I’ve just started a class in.church for women and I can’t wait to make some friendships!

  17. 20

    I love this, and it encourages me to take the step of faith I’ve been feeling like God has put on my heart for a while to do. I just need to boldly do it and see how it unfolds. Thanks so much for sharing your story again! It’s always encouraging!

  18. 21

    You nailed it, Lisa-Jo. Our assumptions so often leave us feeling small. Thanks for another reminder that life is often less than Facebook-perfect.

  19. 22

    Beautiful story. Wow. Inspiring me to step out. Thank you.

  20. 23

    I used to be the one who was always greeting others and inviting others to something. Now, I feel at home in a culture not my own, trying to fit back in with people from a culture I knew and was a part of. And it’s awkward. I don’t know how to be anymore as I’m not sure how to behave socially at church with the ones from the culture I knew before. I feel lost and unsure as everyone seems so reserved and remote. But, I will persevere and maybe they’re all feeling awkward too. Thanks for your post. It helps to propel me onward.

  21. 24

    I feel like, as a guy I a m sort of somewhere I shouldn’t be but I’d like to add that guys, I think, would like to have friends they could kick difficult issues around with. I know that what you have is a girls exclusive thing. My concept of how it would work with guys is different. Maybe we’d do better and learn more if our groups were mixed, guys and gals. Just a thought but we don’t do as well unless we have input from our beloved female side. Doesn’t that sound like stupid crap? It isn’t though, we really need the input. Most of us treasure the women in our lives even if we don’t do a great job expressing it. I get the concept that sometimes girls for girls is good and proper. I’ve hung around with guys doing guy discussions and they’re just not that useful. We learn more all together, including interest, focus, love and understanding.

    • 25

      Richard,

      “Most of us treasure the women in our lives even if we don’t do a great job expressing it. ”

      What a wonderful sentence that is. Not only because you verbalized it, but because you really can’t know, from a woman’s perspective, just how much we WANT to be treasured by our man. After 15 years of marriage, I’m finally relaxing enough around my husband to enjoy him and let him treasure me without being afraid it’s temporary or superficial.

      Similar to what Like Lisa-Jo said about friendships with other women, we women often don’t allow ourselves to embrace being treasured because we are afraid of being rejected (or abandoned). And I think men are afraid to express that they treasure their women because we often present ourselves as being so in control of our lives that we don’t really “need” our men. When most of us are just scared they will leave if we are too clingy, so we act all self-sufficient. And that’s why we need friendships with girls so much, so we can get all that fearful stuff out and process it, and be better at loving our men and appreciating them, without being chokingly needy.

      Thanks for putting in your thoughts on this. I agree–guys and girls look at things differently and the different points of view are important. That’s why God put men and women together! :)

  22. 26

    Oh how I long for the same thing. Friends. Even just A FRIEND. Someone to confide in. Another understanding mother. Someone I won’t feel embarrassed around when my house isn’t spotless or my children are having a meltdown. I have my family, but I envy the women who have good Mommy friends.

  23. 28

    Thanks for being real, yet again. You did hit the nail on the head–we are ALL hungry for friends. I think the biggest problem is we are afraid of reaching out, as you also said, because we don’t want to be rejected. And rejection is definitely a possibility. Just because you are in church doesn’t mean others will want to fellowship with you. Some may be there just because it is Sunday and it’s the “thing” you do on Sunday (go to church). But, as the saying goes, you can’t love without risking being hurt. And if our hearts are desperate enough for friendship and connection, we have to push past the fear to reach out to others–do it afraid–and take the chance that it will grow something beautiful for everyone involved.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  24. 29

    Oh my, what true words! Thank you so much for sharing. I am going with a group of ladies to a Beth Moore conference soon. I was tempted to not go just because of feelings much like the ones you have described here, but I took the leap and bought my ticket. God is showing me daily glimpses of what a special time He has planned for me. I’m excited!

  25. 30

    What a remarkable reminder to us all that friendships and connections are right at our fingertips if we will just take that itsy-bitsy step off the ledge where our comfort zone ends and into the unknown depths of adventure. We need connections. We do. For our health, for our sanity, for our happiness, for our support. And, as moms, I think we often but ourselves on the backburner and think we can make friends when we’re not so immersed in A-Z list of to-dos. I know that’s where I’m at. I don’t even give a second thought to my own social life when I’m so busy making sure dinner is made and homework is done and bums are wiped! But, it is essential. And, being brave and reaching out and making time creates an opportunity for everyone else around you to find something special in themselves as well. You truly have a gift of helping people connect, Lisa-Jo! Thank you!!!

  26. 31

    Sometimes it’s just nice to know that you’re not alone. Right now I’m stuck in the awkward stage of not knowing what to do are who to talk to during the meet and greet. I know I’ll get there, but some days it’s hard. Thanks Lisa-Jo, you always seem to say exactly what I need to hear. ♥

  27. 32

    Tears. That’s all I’ve got right now. Just tears.

  28. 33

    seriously – the thing I liked best about this post is the chipped nail polish on your toes. Somehow I just feel so much better now!

  29. 34

    I just subscribed….where have you been hiding??? :) Good good words – thank you.

    http:/tryingnot2blink.com

    love Heidi

  30. 35
    julienne says:

    Growing up in the military where I was usually the only female made it difficult to have female friendships. I always thought I never needed them. I’m 36 and only now learning how valuable they are and how much I actually do need them. For the first time in my life I am surrounded by fabulous women who get together to be just us, open, vulnerable, honest, and not alone. Wonderful post!

  31. 36

    I can totally relate! It’s so hard for me to make friends, and I always assume that everyone has already filled their friendship bank and there’s not enough room for me. It’s terrible thinking, and I want to be more intentional about reaching out to people instead of waiting for them to reach out to me! Thanks for sharing your story!

    • 37

      Hi yes very well put and said. In this day and age we live in a Social Media Friendship world, instead of the face to face encounter alot of us are use to and grew up. It wasn’t nothing for us to hang out face to face make new friends, feel comfortable to talk to oneanother, and build a bond, a True Realtionship. Here’s how it relates to Christ. We have this same relationship with Christ, its tangable in our spirirt, we feel comfortable talking to him and praying with Him and To Him. Why can’t we have this again with people he has placed in or on our paths. I was inspired by God To start a ministry on Facebook being that is the major focal point in todays world. My desire and my Prayer is men and women, wives and husbands, communites, and non believers be Raised To Life Through Christ! And That is the name of the ministry on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Raised-To-Life-Through-Christ. I love this Blog cause I know God is using everyone here for a purpose, and I have started a series called Friendships. How great is God. I would love everyone’s inputs and thoughts, encouragements, and wisdom to help reach the body and the lost through social media.

  32. 38

    This was funny and beautiful. I’m so glad I was I introduced to your blog through a post someone else made a couple of months ago. I follow several blogs, but yours is the one that most echoes my thoughts and feelings. Thank you for sharing,

  33. 39

    I’ve just recently found your little space on the ‘Net here and reading this…brought me to tears. I’m 38, believe in God but haven’t really ever attended church on a regular basis and have been contemplating it a lot lately, don’t have close friends to speak of but lots of acquaintances. ” We’re always certain we’re the only one who feels awkward or incompetent or left out or frumpy or you-name-it.”–this is how I feel every day and it’s amazing how lonely that feels. I don’t know how I’m going to go about making friends or finding a church at my age but this post makes me hope that it won’t be as difficult as I fear it might be. Thank you for that.

  34. 40

    Hi yes very well put and said. In this day and age we live in a Social Media Friendship world, instead of the face to face encounter alot of us are use to and grew up. It wasn’t nothing for us to hang out face to face make new friends, feel comfortable to talk to oneanother, and build a bond, a True Realtionship. Here’s how it relates to Christ. We have this same relationship with Christ, its tangable in our spirirt, we feel comfortable talking to him and praying with Him and To Him. Why can’t we have this again with people he has placed in or on our paths. I was inspired by God To start a ministry on Facebook being that is the major focal point in todays world. My desire and my Prayer is men and women, wives and husbands, communites, and non believers be Raised To Life Through Christ! And That is the name of the ministry on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Raised-To-Life-Through-Christ. I love this Blog cause I know God is using everyone here for a purpose, and I have started a series called Friendships. How great is God. I would love everyone’s inputs and thoughts, encouragements, and wisdom to help reach the body and the lost through social media. – See more at: http://lisajobaker.com/2013/08/when-you-wonder-why-everyone-else-seems-to-have-frinds/#comment-121174

Trackbacks

  1. [...] ps i thought this post was fabulous by lisa jo : when you wonder why everyone else seems to have friends  [...]

  2. [...] On Monday, Lisa-Jo posted, When you wonder why everyone else seems to have friends, some great thoughts on how so many of us are lonely and just need someone to reach out. The key is [...]

  3. [...] When You Wonder Why Everyone Else Seems to Have Friends [...]

  4. […] Year Without Phone or Cable…Amy J. BennettWhen you wonder why everyone else seems to have friends…Lisa-Jo Baker5 Reasons it’s helpful to know your personality type…Modern Mrs. […]

  5. Suresh Babu Gaddam

    When you wonder why everyone else seems to have friends

  6. scott tucker says:

    scott tucker

    When you wonder why everyone else seems to have friends

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