06 Apr 2015

7 Ways for Women to Find Soul Friends

The older I get the more I think about friendship.

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I’m sitting across a cup of tea in Christie’s 100 year old farm house when I tell her, “I didn’t realize how lonely I was last year.”  She’s known me since the days I swore I’d never be interested in being anyone’s mother. And this afternoon our daughters are curled up in the last of the sunlight on the sofa together.

We’ve been coming to visit them a weekend here and there over the last four years since they moved to Pennsylvania and back into driving distance from us.

In the last five years I’ve become painfully aware of how desperate women are for meaningful female friendships. But because the minivan-driving years are so exhausting and so full of our kids’ schedules it’s hard to make time to invest in friendships, let alone find new ones.

But I think that another part of the problem might be that we judge the state of our friendships by how many friends we have. We think that it’s the number of women we know or connect with that will fill up our loneliness.

But, truthfully, I think  “the more friends the better” is the Facebook definition of friendship.

In my real life it’s the depth and regularity of the relationships that fills me up and tells me, “this is my friend.”

Christie and I walk out to the beds of compost that will become her flower garden and pull up two chairs in her gardening shed with the wind blustering outside and our kids hanging off a zip line and sit and talk. I used to make lists before we got together to make sure we didn’t miss catching up on anything.

I’m so hungry for conversation with someone who knows me and is interested in me beyond a witty tweet or Facebook update.

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We talk for hours.

I didn’t realize how much I had been needing to say, to process out loud, until someone was willing to listen without rush or deadlines.

There are hurts I hadn’t stop to pay attention to. There are holes in my faith that I need someone to stand in alongside me. There are doubts I need someone to acknowledge.

One of the ways our world of the fast and furious Internet hurts us is that so often our schedules and attention spans don’t have enough time to give each other uninterrupted hours of conversation.

We will starve on a diet of conversations limited to 140 character tweets, text messages or Facebook quips.

We need soul food conversations. The kind that don’t cut you off because they have another meeting to run to. The kind that lingers.

This past weekend Christie gave me what Dr. Leslie Parrott calls, the, “extravagant gift of time and undivided attention.” It’s a love language that runs deep for me. I’m guessing, if you’re a woman, then it runs deep for you too.

We need to talk and talk and talk till we are all filled up from the gift of having someone else listen.

Soul friends pay attention to what you’re saying, not to what time the clock says it is.

Soul friends listen as long as it takes to make you feel heard.

Soul friends aren’t in a hurry to get to the point or to check you off the list.

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While I was at Christie’s I had this book tucked into my computer bag, between the Hello Kitty Legos and the nerf gun bullets – because books are like friends to me I wanted to share this one with you: Soul Friends: What Every Woman Needs To Grow in Her Faith.

There I was speaking my loneliness out loud and reading what Dr. Parrott says about women and our need for friendships: “As women, we are so oriented toward attachment that we fear a rupture in relationship more than a loss of independence.”

Anywhere I find wisdom for ways to encourage women to connect beyond our typical “I’m fine, thanks” I have to share it. Because I know I’m not the only one hungry for connection.

So I pulled some of my favorite “soul souvenirs” out of the book – because they’re such practical ways to answer the inevitable question: But how do I find soul friends?

7 Ways for Women to Find Soul Friends

If you’re hungry for meaningful friendship, try this exercise – sit down with a pen and paper or the “Notes” app on your phone and answer these questions:

  1. Create Space: What would it look like for you to slow down and create space for kindness and compassion in the fray of your busyness?
  2. Pray/Serve Someone Else: How does praying for someone, or serving them, create a meaningful bond? Who could you pray for or serve this week?
  3. Recognize Ordinary Heroes: Who is being your “hero” right now through their presence, prayers and kindness? Who are you being a “hero” to these days?
  4. Give the Gift of Imperfection: When has someone’s honesty about the imperfection of her own life been a gift of encouragement to you? How have the imperfections of your life allowed you to connect with and encourage others?
  5. Offer Unexpected Hospitality: How can you create space in your life for the grace of hospitality? Who can you welcome that wouldn’t be expecting it but would be blessed?
  6. Carry Each Others’ Pain: When has the kindness and care of someone reached out to you in the midst of a dark time? How did they reach you, and what effect did it have? What would you like to emulate from that experience for your soul friends?
  7. Experience God Together: Recall a time when you experienced God’s presence in a powerful way in the midst of a group or gathering of friends. How did it create oneness among you?

Now you have the makings of a practical plan for deepening a friendship. Now you have notes for how to initiate a soul friendship. Now all you need is the courage and the willingness to make the time.

It is so worth it friends – I’d forgotten what a gift time is when it comes to friendship. I’m so grateful for my own recent reminder.

Go ahead, make room in your schedule for just one of these suggestions this week – and then let me know how it goes.

And in the meantime time, if you want to learn more, click over here to pick up your own copy of Soul Friends.

 

With thanks to Zondervan for sponsoring today’s post; all opinions on women and our hunger for connection and friendship resources are my own deeply held beliefs.

Comments

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  1. 1

    Sister, THIS is a powerful and timely post! I’ve been thinking about this so much lately and it resonates so deep in me. I’m thanking God for the one friend that I have like your Christie. Her friendship is life giving and so necessary in my life. We can only get together a few times a year, but it is a salve to my weary and wounded soul. Thank you for writing about this topic in such a deep and thoughtful way. LOVE this post!

    • 2
      Lisa-Jo says:

      Right? Amazing how we can be sustained by very few friendships when those few are deep and true.

  2. 3

    Amen!
    The need for kindred spirit friendships doesn’t end with empty nests either…

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. 5
    Christine says:

    Ordering the book right now! I teach a parents bible study at our school on Wed mornings and last week we just finished a few weeks on how we need to make more room for Sabbath rest in our lives. I have a week to contemplate what comes next in the 7 weeks (!) before school ends and this is it! Thank you! Seven weeks to teach, 7 outstanding points I can teach with Biblical support (and point #1 follows up making time for Sabbath rest so perfectly only the Holy Spirit could’ve led me to it!) Easter break just went from mildly stressful to delightfully purposeful lesson planning! Thank you!

    • 6
      Lisa-Jo says:

      I hope it encourages you guys, Christine. And I’ll just clarify that these are 7 points that spoke to me particularly that I pulled from her Soul Souvenir bullet points she has at the end of each chapter. Just in case you were expecting a single bulleted list somewhere in the book :) I totally shopped around and loved these ones particularly.

  4. 7

    I have been thinking and praying over this very topic for weeks (re: months). Your words are encouraging and helpful. My dear soul friend who lives across the country (I moved away — what was I thinking?!) and I discussed it after reading your post — truly, we don’t remember *how* we became soul friends. I like the questions you ask. I feel like “it just happened” soul friends are as rare as love at first sight. I’ve been struggling with how intentional I must be to cultivate deep friendships, frustrated that they don’t just *happen* at this point in my life, but encouraged because I know that good work reaps good rewards. I will be mulling over these questions for a while — and probably picking up that book soon!

  5. 9

    Totally spot on! Must admit, though, I tweeted “We will starve on a diet of conversations limited to 140 character tweets, text messages or Facebook quips.” It’s so very true.

  6. 11

    Lisa-Jo, I’m thinking this is quite possibly my favorite post of yours that I’ve ever read. The handful of friendships I have that would be considered “soul friendships” are just *life* to my heart. Absolute, Jesus-sent, sustaining, upholding, LIFE. Interestingly, those friendships are mostly with women who’re also writers/creatives. I feel like when we take the time to know ourselves deeply and to journey intentionally with Jesus as we explore and invest in our creativity, we are carved out inside — like, space is made in our hearts so that we can be gracious, *safe* recipients of our soul friends’… well, souls.

    Anyway… just thank you so much for this. The need for depth of relationship (and practical how-to’s) like you’re describing needs to be more widely discussed, I think. You’re a blessing… always.

    • 12
      Lisa-Jo says:

      Yes the older I get the more hungry I am for deep, slow friendship. Thanks Dana.

  7. 13

    yrs, yes! Wonderful truth for the longings that live deep! Thank you, Lisa Jo.

  8. 14

    Since our time together last week, I have felt full – full to overflowing. Friendship may just be God’s greatest gift. I’m so grateful for you, Lisa-Jo.

    • 15

      Me too – you have no idea. I could move into that garden greenhouse quite happily with you and two big mugs of tea :)

  9. 16

    what you said is so true! Those deep meaningful friendships are so important. I have a few from childhood. Those friends that are always there and we we talk it’s for hours at a time. My friends that I have made since becoming an adult are few and far between. But I cherish them. And I’m related to them too! I only have a limited amount of time so lots of friends doesn’t serve me well, so if I count you among my friends, I mean it!

  10. 17

    Lisa-Jo, thank you so much for sharing about the book. And thank you for helping me to feel more normal about craving deeper connection in female friendships. I have told myself that I should just be satisfied with Jesus and not be dependent on needing any other deep connections. I still find myself needing that “soul friend” connection now more than ever before. My mom went to be with Jesus almost 3 years ago, when I was 36. My dad had gone to be with Jesus when I was 13 so my mom’s passing has left me feeling like an adult orphan in some ways. I have 3 sisters 10 – 15 years older than me, but we have never had deep connections because of our age difference and some unhealthy feelings of jealousy they have always held against me because they left home early and I was raised as an only child. During my childhood, my parents were able to go on more vacations and buy me more things. If only they knew how much I would rather have had good relationships with them instead of those “things.” My family (my husband, myself and our 2 boys) just moved across the country for my husband’s job about a year ago so I had to leave behind all of my soul friends. We still connect over the phone, but it’s just not the same living so far apart that we can’t see each other in person. I have been so discouraged lately about the lack of deep conversations I have been able to have with women here. I live in a subdivision with women all around me, yet it is so hard to connect in a meaningful way to form a bond. I admit that I am guilty of making it harder to connect. I know I have some trust issues due to broken relationships from my past. I will keep this book in mind. Thank you for the encouragement to not give up. :)

  11. 18

    I think behind our internet communication are many, many women craving one on one, face to face time with each other. I know the internet, family, work take up much of my time, I’ve neglected friends and in a way gave up on new friendship. I don’t like it. I want closer friendship again. Thanks so much for this.

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