I admit, I'm lonely
Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Last summer, I gathered at a friend’s house for a small celebration. On her back porch, I watched as her group of girlfriends chatted away, catching up with each other.
As I observed the intimate nature of their conversations, I thought to myself enviously, “They’ve clearly been friends for a long time.” I assumed they had all grown up together because it was obvious they knew each other – and each other’s families – very well.
Curious, I asked the question, “Did you all go to high school together or something?” The casual reply was quick, “Oh no, we actually met in the neighborhood. Our kids played at the playground together.”
A pang reverberated in my chest. I thought to myself, I’ve lived in this neighborhood for ten years, and I’ve not made a single friend at the playground.
In that moment, a longing ripped open in me. A tender place was exposed. I didn’t have what they had, and it hurt.
I continued on as normal, but I felt sorry for myself as I walked to my car that night. In the days that followed, my sadness slowly gave way to anger. I was mad that making friends was so hard, especially (I thought) for working moms. I was resentful that my close friends were scattered across the country, and we couldn’t gather together to celebrate...anything. I was mad that I was hurting.
You see, I’ve prayed for community for years. But over the last year and half or so, it feels like everywhere I turn, women already have their people.
The truth is, it IS hard for working women to make friends. Between our demanding jobs, kids’ activities and managing a household, it’s challenging to find time to nurture relationships with women that cross your path.
Looking back, though, I never prioritized building friendships. In the big scheme of life, it just didn’t rise to the top of the “Most Important Things” list. I pushed aside any ache that popped up and thought a friend group would eventually just materialize.
Eighteen months after that conversation on my friend’s back porch, my prayers for community grew more fervent. Maybe it was COVID making the longing more acute, but I felt a level of loneliness I hadn't experienced before. As I kept praying, I began sensing God calling me to create the community I craved.
Now, when I get a sense from God that I need to do something, my first response is oftentimes incredulous. ME?? How can I create community? I wasn't sure what He was asking.
So I kept praying.
And as I kept seeking Him first in this, an old sermon from one of my favorite authors and speakers, Annie F. Downs, continued to play in my mind. In it she talked about how her grandmother always met her in the driveway as she got off her school bus. Over the years, her grandmother taught her that friendship starts with just meeting in the driveway. It's not complicated, she taught Annie, “A woman just wants you to meet her where she is.”
It's that simple.
I felt God calling me to a small act of obedience: Invite women over for coffee in your driveway.
Two weeks ago, I did that one brave thing: I posted an invitation on my neighborhood Facebook page inviting any woman who sought community to join me for driveway coffee the following Saturday morning. Talk about exposed. I felt completely naked putting that out there, hoping the women in my neighborhood wouldn’t pity me for wanting to make new friends.
But you know what? My post got dozens of “I love this!” comments. And six brave women showed up that Saturday morning with their coffee, a chair and an open heart. After some small talk, I shared what prompted me to make the post, and I confessed I was lonely. At that moment, I looked around the circle at six pairs of eyes staring back at me, all welling up with tears. Heads nodding in solidarity. “I’m lonely, too,” echoed around the circle, and you could literally see relief wash over the women sitting there on that driveway as years of loneliness were penetrated by my confession.
You see, when we’re vulnerable and honest about our pain and longing, we offer hope to someone. Hope is a lifeline out of solitary confinement and into healing and wholeness. What a gift to give someone.
If, while reading this, you felt a familiar pang in your chest or tears stinging your eyes...YOU ARE NOT ALONE. The benefits of social connection are well-documented, but how can we practically find our people?
Here's my advice on how to do it:
Pray: Pray for God’s guidance. Ask Him to bring you into community with a supportive group of women. Be expectant rather than passive. Ask for His wisdom and discernment as you meet people in your various walks of life - personal and professional.
Listen and reflect: Listen for God’s response and keep notes about what you hear – whether a song, Scripture passage, devotional, etc. – everything points to where God is leading you. Write it all down and build in time to reflect at the end of each week on what He’s saying to you.
Do the brave thing: If you get the sense that He wants you to reach out to your neighbors, do it! If you believe He wants you to join a small group at church, do it! Maybe He wants you to invite your new colleague to lunch and offer to introduce her around the office. Maybe He wants you to sit down beside the other little league mom sitting alone at the game. Remember, God doesn’t ask big things, He just wants your small acts of obedience.
The great thing about following this sequence is that you can eliminate doubt and second guessing because you’ve sought God and listened for His prompting. If you're a perfectionist like me, doubt can really hamstring you...don't try anything unless you're 1000% prepared.
By following this order, you can trust that what God has put on your heart is good and know that He will equip you with everything you need to carry out the task. Additionally, you’ll have the confidence to tell the nagging voice in your head worried about rejection, “Thanks, but I’ve got this.”
Some questions for you to consider:
What is it you really long for?
What's been on your heart to do but fear has held you back?
What does it look like in your life to meet the women around you right where they are?
What is one brave step you can take this week?
Be courageous, friend. Someone out there is waiting for you and what you’re going to create.
If you need more support conquering your fears, let's talk. This is what I do – I help women navigate by faith rather than fear so that they can live the life God created them for. You can grab some time here. Can't wait to connect. And be sure to follow me on Instagram @_flourish_coaching_ for faith-filled inspo!
Here's my driveway coffee: