In conversation the other day with a fairly new member of our church and community, she admitted how friendly everyone is, yet no one seems to have room in their life for more friends. This CRUSHES me, but then I realize I'm guilty too. People smile, nod in agreement, and are helpful for a moment, but when it comes time to spending time to really get to know her and the family, she's feeling lonely. She is outgoing with a pleasant personality, and volunteers in several ways, so she has plenty of opportunities to make friends.
I wonder, for those of us who have lived in the same place for a long time, who have our circle of friends, who have found our niche, if we don't realize we are shutting people out sometimes? Are we so busy that we don't have time to make a new friend? Do we feel that we have enough friends to keep up with that we don't have room for any more? It hurts me to think that my beloved church family might not be that to someone else. Truth is, FRIENDSHIP TAKES TIME.
It's an issue bigger than myself and there's no solving it, except for me to do what I can. My way may not be like your way. I have never really gotten into "doing lunch" - just my habit from years of trying to cram my "to-do" list into the time my kids were in school, and also eating a simple lunch of few calories. I like my schedule! But, I do ask people to join us for a meal after worship services, participate in women's activities at church and encourage others to join in, etc. I hope in the future as I become an empty nester that I will find more opportunities for friendship.
Recently I heard about a service that two older Christian ladies do together. They are fairly new friends, and one is a widow. Once a week, they pick someone from church to go encourage. They make a goody bag to take. They phone them and ask if they can visit, and also ask if they can get something from the store or buy a Sonic drink for them. Sometimes they even bring lunch and eat with them. I know because my mother was the recipient of this special visit from them. Only later did I find out it was a weekly ritual! What better way to get to know other people and be an encouragement as well!
Everyone needs friends. People in transition especially so - and newcomers are at the top of the list. Even though I haven't moved to a new town since I was 5 years old, I know it's important. We all feel lonely from time to time. How can we help out newcomers? Things I thought of:
1. Slow down - take a few more minutes to really talk to them.
2. Offer to take them to your favorite local coffee shop or restaurant.
3. Get their phone number and call or text when you think of them.
4. Find a common interest and ask them to join you in that.
5. Find out about opportunities that might help them - our church has several welcome classes available.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!