When I was in elementary school, I distinctly remember having no friends in 1st grade. I vividly remember waiting outside my classroom door during recess because I had no friends to play with. In 2nd grade, I met my childhood best friend and we did everything together. It was like a dream come true and we hung out all the time. Then in 3rd grade, our friend group widened and I had a solid group of girlfriends. Until Beth* showed up. She stole my friends away and they would actually, physically, run away from me at recess. She would set up situations where she would invite everyone except me to her house while I was standing there. At such a young age, this was crushing. I learned not to trust women that I perceived as “flighty” or “fake” or in any way unsafe. In high school, I surrounded myself with extremely reliable friends who never sought to hurt me.
Yet in college I had to leave this safety net of friends and try to make new female friends. This has always been a difficult process for me. I ended up making only a handful of close female friends in college. I didn’t have a huge bridal party full of a dozen friends from college. I struggled with comparing myself to other women on Facebook and Instagram who appeared to have more female friends than me. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I be like them? Was I not likable enough? Did God make me weird?
Post-college adult life has been even harder in the friend-making department. When I first got married and moved to a new city, I knew nobody. I joined a church and everyone seemed to already have all the friends they needed. I joined missional communities and served on Sunday mornings, but friendships came very slowly. I prayed a lot. I cried a lot. I gave in to self-loathing a lot.
I often thought that I must be the only other person who struggles with making female friends. Nobody else talks about it!
Here’s the thing: it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I’m an introvert. Not only that, but my husband recently informed me that I’m intense. I was like “what?!? why have you never told me this before?!” As I thought these words in passionate indignation, I realized he was right. My response incriminated me. Sometimes God uses people to speak into our lives in ways that smack us in the face with reality. So He made me as this intense introvert. And due to past hurt, I hate fake, surface-level friendships. So what I’ve been searching for are people who will commit to an intense, deep, real friendship.
Friends, I can now see why I only have a handful of close female friendships. It’s how I’m made. It’s how I connect. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m pretty sure I got the “intense” character trait from God. (See pretty much all of Scripture for evidence. He’s pretty intense.) And I don’t need a million friends like the people on Facebook and Instagram have. That’s how God made them-to be able to connect with a lot of people at once. That’s beautiful too.
So can’t I appreciate that without putting myself and others down? Can’t I instead turn to the Lord who has always known these things about me and delights in my unique qualities? Qualities He gave me in the first place? Can’t I instead look to Him and ask how He wants to use these qualities to reach His kingdom? Can’t I appreciate the beautiful, intense, real women He has brought into my life and ask how I can serve them better?
I have a quote on my classroom wall. It is, I think, from Eleanor Roosevelt and it says “comparison is the thief of joy.” So true. So instead of comparing, join me today in thanking God for the way we’re each individually made. Praise His wisdom in making you. Ask Him to reveal the qualities you have that are unique, wonderful, and lovely, even if you sometimes hate those same qualities. Ask Him how you can be used to serve Him with those qualities. Friends, we’ve got to stop hating ourselves-we’re the beautiful creation of God.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” -Ephesians 2:10