I don’t consider myself a lonely person, nor would you think so if you saw me in person. I’m a bubbly extrovert with a decent-sized network of friends. I’m close to my parents and happily married with amazing kids. However, I still feel lonely at times, and I know I’m NOT alone in this.
I’m an only child (having lost my sibling when I was a teenager), and I struggle a bit more than people who have siblings because they get built-in besties for life (or so I think).
In the past decade since becoming a mom, I have found wonderful friends, but I’ve also struggled with hurt and rejection from a few women that cut deeply, to the point I started Christian counseling to help heal, learn to forgive, and move on.
We see pictures like this on social media all the time, and you might think my life is perfect, except, it’s not. I’ve cried a lot this year, loved, lost, worked, and learned. We are all sinners in need of God.
Find Your People is a short, 7-week study with 15-minute videos accompanying each session. You could read this book on your own, but I highly recommend going through it in a group.
There were many tears shed at the table, and even though we finished a few months ago, the study still continues to inspire me to be intentional with friendships, reiterating the importance of having our village, and the wisdom on how to build one.
Session 1 – Introduction
For all of eternity, God has existed in relationship–as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. With that foundation, we were created to be relational beings.
To build a healthy, balanced community, Jennie outlines 5 pillars–
- Proximity – Adam and Eve were with each other continuously and walked with God closely.
- Transparency – They were fully known and fully loved – naked and unashamed.
- Accountability – God set boundaries for them around one Tree; they were accountable for keeping them.
- Purpose: They shared a job, caring for God’s beautiful creation.
- Consistency – They showed up every day, with all the time in the world to pour into each other.
Session 2 – The Disruption of Community
I’ve hurt people. They’ve hurt me. I have failed relationships. Some have forgiven me; some have walked away. Nothing hurts more—stealing thoughts and disrupting happiness—than difficult or broken relationships with people. I resonated with this deeply!
The biggest takeaway from this session: You will disappoint me. I will disappoint you. God will NEVER disappoint us.
Session 3 – Proximity – with God and with each other.
Do I have friends I’ve made through Instagram? Shockingly, yes. I never expected to make genuine mommy friends. But this platform connected me with some like-minded mamas; I’ve even met with quite a few of them and their sweet families in person.
While those friendships are wonderful and precious, I’ve learned the importance of having a nearby village, within a 5-mile radius according to Jennie’s research.
Some ideas for finding your village—church, work, neighborhood, kid’s school, gym, kid’s extracurricular teams, etc.
Tip – Initiating is AWKWARD for everyone because we all fear rejection. We tend to wait to be asked, and there is zero risk of rejection if you don’t initiate, right? But if you want to find a friend, you need to be a friend.
Session 4 – Transparency
In an affluent country like the United States, we have white picket fences, tall walls, and wooden, locked and alarmed doors. But having these physical boundaries also keeps out the good things—the bear-your-soul intimacy: being encouraged, held accountable, seen, loved, and known.
I can’t remember going to any neighbor’s to borrow an egg or some sugar, ever! Because if I need it, I drive to HEB to get it myself, but by not troubling each other and being so independent, we’ve lost some of the precious sense of community we all long for. I love my neighbors, but the most I ever ask of them is to take in my packages when we’re out of town.
Transparency is the idea of living without walls. Where we can see what’s really going on with each other. Knowing and being known, needing and being needed is God’s plan for us.
Wall of Protection vs. Armor of God
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…
Stand firm, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, the breastplate of righteousness in place, and your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:1
Wall of Unmet Expectations vs. Our Hope
We often have unrealistic expectations of friends and family, including “my friend will initiate, encourage, remember my birthday, be there for me whenever I need them, never annoy or misunderstand me.”
Wall of Shame vs. the Truth
Isolation is one of shame’s greatest goals; don’t let shame win.
Jennie went so far as to say she shared her finances with her people, the last 5% we normally hold back from talking to anyone about.
This friend knows my finances—yup, that last 5%. Have we had conflicts? Absolutely! Are we going to give up on each other? Never.
Session 5 – Accountability
Accountability is one of the lost tastes of heaven that made God’s plan for community work for the people in it. It is building relationships and taking risks with people and allowing them to sharpen us.
The last thing you and I need is a friend that co-signs our stupidity. If I’m about to careen off a cliff and you stand there cheering for me, we’ve got a problem. I don’t need acceptance when I’m being a fool; I need help, and so do you.
It takes discernment and effort to return to the kind of relationships that really build us–the kind God had in mind for us to enjoy.
Session 6 – Shared Mission
“You don’t know someone until you’ve gone on a trip with them…” This inspired me to take a Disney trip with my friend and our 4-year-old boys, as well as fly to Paris with family friends. These trips took courage, but I’m so glad we did it.
Discipleship is inconvenient, uncomfortable, and very messy. But it’s beautiful.
Session 7 – Consistency
Community. Togetherness. People in your business. Living life like this, there will be a moment when you want to bolt.
But instead of leaving, fight for each other: fight to understand, and fight to stay. When we stay, we grow; we learn the art of reconciliation. We cry it out and show up again the next day.
There are no intimate friendships free of conflict. But hopefully, we disagree and come back to the table, back to each other.
Jesus makes the best friend. He will never ignore you, shame you, or roll His eyes at you. He always listens, always cares, always tells the truth. He is always there, safe and encouraging, lovingly challenging you to be better.
You have Jesus and He has you.
BUT He wants more for you. More for us. A team of people to love Him together and love each other through the hard.
Find your people, and never let them go.
Final Note –
As I reflected and prayed about my friendships, I also learned to discern who are NOT my people. The good thing is I’ve attracted friends because of who God made me to be, but the bad, mathematically speaking, is I also annoy and drive many away. The big lesson—I’m not for everyone, and that is OK! But being OK took a lot of counseling to make peace with it, which I continue to work on.
Written by blogger, Rachel Xi, @rachelxeverafter