That's how I felt twelve years ago when we moved back to my husband's family farm.
I wanted friends, so I joined a Bible study, an exercise class, and a stay-at-home moms' group that met twice a month.
Yeah, everyone was nice. But guess how many of them wanted to be my actual friend? Approximately zero.
It was like every potential friend slot was already "taken."
I'm not telling you this so you'll feel sorry for me. I'm telling you this because someone out there feels exactly like that today. And someone else out there is trying hard to fit in, because that's what women do when things don't work out: We try harder like it's our job. Embarrassing fact: This is why I own every Pampered Chef gadget and every Tastefully Simple spice known to man. I wanted to make friends, so I was a home-party ninja. (Yes, I realize how desperate this sounds). I wanted someone to like me, so I killed myself trying to make it happen.
I felt invisible to people, and in some ways, I felt invisible to God.
And then I gave up trying at all.
Then, Michelle found me, at the end of a long table at her church. (Maybe you met Michelle in chapter nine of Love Idol). Michelle saw someone whom no else else saw. She saw underneath the fiction I had tried to manufacture at the bathroom mirror. That made me super panicky, but also, a little bit likable. She liked me for me.
And soon we became friends.
I had a place at her table. And in her living room small-group study. And on her deck, with our feet propped up on the railing. And in the pedicure chair next to hers. And in the car on our way to a Women of Faith weekend. That was ten years ago. We're still "dating," as we like to say. We're still watching sunsets, and getting our toenails done, and laughing at inappropriate times, and making fools of ourselves in public. We have loved each other through awesome days, crappy days, and meh days. We understand each other's insides. And while we value our special bond, we are always looking to make space at the table. Because we both know how awful it is to feel alone.
Here are two of our "album cover" shots. (We have a whole series of these in case we get famous.)
Here are three things I've learned about friendship:
1 - You are not the only one.
You might think that you're the only one who feels alone or invisible. You might also think you're the only person going through a hard thing, struggling with shame, feeling nutty as a fruitcake on Christmas. Guess what? If you feel a wacky thought, there's about a 99.8 percent chance someone else has that same wacky thought. I need to know this: my inner crazy is universal. Remember what C.S. Lewis once said? Friendship is born in that moment when one person says to another, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one."
2 - You are not in competition.
When something great happens to your friends (or acquaintances), how do you respond? What do you do when they get the approval, promotion, attention, jean size, or dream vacation that you've been hoping for? Of course, we want to say we're delighted for our friends. But somewhere on the inside, we might be a little envious. I saw a quote the other day on Pinterest: "Girls compete with each other. Women empower one another." Comparing makes friendship a contest, instead of a community. We can all put down the measuring sticks and pick up the pompons. There's more than enough goodness to go around, and before you know it, your friends will be cheering for you. Your soul will thank you, and so will your friends.
3 - You are seen.
We will all go through seasons where we can't find a place at the table. There will be times where it seems like all the potential friends are "taken," and we're sidelined. On those days, repeat this over and over: "I am seen. I am known. I am loved." You are not invisible to God.
God desires for us to be in community. After all, it was His idea. He loves community so much that He is actually Three -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He gets what you're going through. He understands what it is to feel alone and abandoned. We don't have to kill ourselves trying to make people like us. God may send you a Michelle. Or He may ask you to be the friend you want to have -- to be the Michelle who has her eyes open for the lonely ones.
Scary, I know. But watch how you expand into your truest self when you take the first step.
An Insanely Awesome Giveaway to Celebrate Friendship
You need a weekend away with your Jesus-sisters, don't you? You need a chance to hang out with your Michelles. I have an awesome giveaway for you. I have partnered with Women of Faith to give away FOUR TICKETS TO WOMEN OF FAITH! Isn't that the best? Let me put this in big letters in case you missed it:
One lucky winner will get to take herself and four of her friends to any Women of Faith event in any city! ENTER for a chance to win BELOW.
(Email subscribers click here to enter.)
I'm so excited about this giveaway. This is the Farewell Tour of the Women of Faith (I have so loved Women of Faith. Those ladies have been such a part of my own faith journey. A Women of Faith weekend is truly a weekend that lasts a lifetime. I don't want to miss this farewell tour! How about you?)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The lucky winner will be contacted Saturday by email.
$20 off coupon for Women of Faith
There's more! The sweet Women of Faith people are giving any and all of my readers $20 off the price of any Standard or Premium ticket in any city with the code: JDLEE20. My preapproved self is crazy about this year's theme: "You are seen. You are known. You are free."
What a fun opportunity to hit the road with friends and make a memory. Take a look at the tour schedule here and click "more info" to see which speakers will be part of each particular event. Then register for a ticket (Don't forget the discount code - JDLEE20.)
Regular Price of Standard Ticket - $99
Regular Price of a Premium Ticket - $109
Price includes all event sessions (lunch not included)
Website offers info on local hotels
Women Of Faith - Loved - The Farewell Tour 2015 from Women of Faith on Vimeo.
That's all, friends. Register to win. And if you don't win, round up some friends and buy some tickets with the coupon code, JDLEE20. You won't want to miss the farewell tour of Women of Faith!
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