The question is a real one, and I think one that we women, we sisters, should ask as well as act on.
Proverbs brings a bounty of verses on friendship and its importance, but perhaps Proverbs 24:18 illuminates one of the most significant points:
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
The value in friendship is in keeping us on the correct path, not only in keeping us from ruin, but in making us better together than we are alone.
But we are super lonely
Today, however, where being friends with someone has been reduced to a simple friend request, I think a lot of us are super lonely. A lot of us women, even those of us in church and Bible studies, and who have great families simply feel disconnected.
At least I do.
Who am I anymore?
The challenge to maintain authenticity where it’s so easy to select what others know and see about you is real. It’s easy for these superficial (not always wrong) images and posts and words to define who we are to others and even to ourselves. Sometimes it gets me asking the question,
Who am I anymore?
Our sisters help us remember
Those closer-than-a-brother friends tell us! They remind us. They ask us questions that reorient us back to the truth. But this presupposes we do more than superficially interface with them.
And this is a big deal. It requires EFFORT.
I’m the first one to admit that I get an F or maybe a D when it comes to calling or reaching out to friends in meaningful ways.
It’s sooo easy to let the connection that likes and clicks and hearts and emojis deliver be the ONLY connection I have with friends.
Two of my closest friends (who happen to be my actual sister and cousin) deactivated social media accounts this week, both explaining that now is the time for investing in real relationships, friendships, real things that matter.
I know many others are doing the same. We are tired of superficial connection and the ache of loneliness that it leaves behind.
O sister, where art thou?
We ask the question. The next step is to act. What I’ve learned on the matter is:
Be the friend you’re looking for. I have so many dear, beautiful, soulful women in my life. Instead of asking why I feel lonely, it’s better for me to listen to the Holy Spirit and ask, who needs a call? Who am I missing? Flip all the affronts you’re feeling on their heads and undo them through conversation and building friendship with those in your life now.
Connect via voice or video if distance separates you. I’ve now lived a few different lives as an adult. 6 years in Chicago. 5 in Indianapolis. 3 in Nashville. Going on my first now in southern Indiana. This means I have mini communities of friends all over. What’s more, I have international friends made over all of these years from school and my English language-teaching jobs. I’m not alone in this dynamic I know. What my online life has tricked me into believing however is that somehow a chat is as meaningful as a phone call. Not true. Pick up a phone or set a Skype call. Voice and face-to-face communication will always be infinitely more personal and meaningful.
Check your ratio of online to offline interaction. If you’re spending more time on the online connections (not counting Internet-based video convos), than offline, you’re in danger likely of feeling isolated and lonely. Personally, I’ve felt this way over the last year and have slowly weaned myself away from my social media accounts as a result.
Being a reliable friend and finding reliable friends may feel like the single most challenging thing in your life right now. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Friendships take time and effort to cultivate and evolve through seasons of our lives.
Built for Community
One thing we know regardless of whether or not we have that best friend or that tight sister circle right now, is that we as women, as humans, as sisters–we require community and connection. We were built for it.
So we can ask the question, o sister,where art thou? But what’s next is up to us. It’s up to us to act on the answer and be that reliable woman, friend, and sister to the people around us right now.
Who else is ready to make the effort?!