There were once these two girls who invited another girl to go to an event with them in hopes of getting closer to her. They took her shopping, introduced her to people, and tried their best to engage her.
The girl was on her phone the entire time, even when people at the event tried to talk to her.
When they came back, someone asked them how they had enjoyed their time and the girl they had invited chimed up and spoke of how it was horrible and how no one had included her.
The other two girls were hurt to hear that because they had tried their best to include her.
Sadly, this is something that actually happened, and something that happens a lot:
People distancing themselves and then blaming others for their feelings of disconnection.
I know I have been guilty of it as well in the past.
On the flip side of that story, here’s another true one that I was a part of:
Our congregation hosted a ladies’ day, and since it was our church building, my friends and I showed up a bit earlier to help set up and place food out.
My friends and I were all together when the other women came in, and we stayed together through the first two lessons.
However, I noticed that while there were other girls our ages there, we weren’t really doing anything to include them.
“We should ask them if they want to sit with us,” I said to one of my friends.
“I know,” she answered, “but I don’t think there’s room on our pew, and I think they’re happy where they are.”
I remember standing there and feeling like I was doing something wrong, and I didn’t know how I should go about fixing it.
Lunchtime came around, and still, I realized I was standing in a group of the same friends, the ones I saw twice a week.
“Do y’all want to go be social?” I said half-jokingly, half hoping they would notice the cliquishness. “Come on, let’s go talk to people.”
They shrugged me off, and I knew I had a choice to make.
“If you guys don’t come with me, I’ll go alone.”
“You can do that if you want to.” one girl answered me.
As an introvert, it was scary walking away from a group of people I knew well and walking up to a group of girls I didn’t know at all, but I did it, and I sat with them during lunch and had a good time getting to know them.
When it came time for us to go to the next lesson, one of the girls I had sat with asked me where I was sitting. I told her that the pew I had been sitting on was full, but that we could just move to an empty one near the front so we all could sit together.
I walked up to my group of friends and told them that I was moving pews so I could sit with the other girls and I asked them if they wanted to come. I thought they would say yes, but they said they wanted to stay where they were.
Once again, I was alone. I went up to the other girls who I hadn’t had a chance to talk to at lunch and asked them if they wanted to sit with me and the new group of girls I had met. They said yes and even thanked me for inviting them, and I felt even worse for not taking action sooner that morning.
As you can see, these are two stories where there were shortcomings when it came to including and reaching out to people.
One where (while I wasn’t there) there was a problem with someone blaming others for not being included while they distanced themselves.
The other where I should have been more friendly since the start and I failed because of the lack of support from my peers.
Sometimes, it goes both ways at the same time. In the past, I have apologized to someone who expressed their feelings of loneliness to me, and she apologized to me as well because she also pulled away when she started feeling left out instead of telling me sooner.
Sometimes, both parties are in the wrong, and sometimes it’s your fault, or it’s the other person’s fault and you’re not accountable for their actions or inactions.
I’ve been forced to leave friends behind to go meet people because those friends wouldn’t come with me, only to have the same friends who simply said “no” when I asked them to meet people with me later say that I left them behind. To that, I usually answer, “No, you chose to stay behind.”
I share these things not to point fingers, but to show that we are all guilty of these things.
I have probably been each of the people in these stories in the past and sadly will be in the future.
In Philippians 2:4 the Bible reads:
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
This is so important because if we are truly looking out for and loving others more than ourselves, we won’t be leaving them out or accidentally excluding them.
And Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 speaks about how important friendships are:
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”
Don’t exclude others, but also don’t exclude yourself.
So many times, I have seen friendships fail because of bad communication, and that’s so terribly sad.
The Bible makes it clear how important friendships are (Proverbs 17:9, 27:6, Luke 15:8-9, John 15:15, etc.), but in order to have friends, we must be good friends (Psalm 18:24).
Right now, for many of us it is harder to be good friends since we are no longer going to school, events, work, etc.
But there are still so many ways to reach out and be there for others.
These are scary and lonely times for a lot of us but have you…
- Texted, called, or emailed a friend today who might need encouragement or just a sense of normalcy right now?
- Written thoughtful letters to the sick?
- Prayed for your friends and loved ones?
These are all things that we can still do, and I’m sure, with creativity, you and I could think of so much more!
It’s so easy to feel disconnected right now, I am currently feeling that way and it isn’t fun, but this is a good reminder of how precious our friends are and right now we just need to work harder to keep them close even though we are separated by six feet, quarantine, and shelters in place.
How are you?
How are your friendships?
What are some ways you could start being a better friend today?