Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Friendship Matters

You may have seen my previous post about the book Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships. I was a part of the launch team and was given an advanced copy to review.

The book couldn't have come at a better time. It seemed like everything around me and everything I read was screaming "Friendships matter-- focus on other people!" I wanted to share more about what I learned through this book.

Lisa-Jo Baker, author of Never Unfriended shares there are three things that hinder us in committing to friendships.

  • We have a fear of being hurt -- because we've been hurt by people before (we all have!). She talks a lot about the importance of forgiveness, whether we move forward with that specific relationship or not. Past hurts have away of hindering future friendships."Forgiveness is making peace with the past so that there is opportunity for relationship in the future."
  • We fear missing out. No one wants to be lonely; we want connection, deep friendships and a feeling of belonging. This was a big one for me. I have very distinct memories of being left out or at least feeling left out in elementary school; if people were whispering it was about me (it wasn't), when girls got together and laughed, they laughed at me (they didn't), when they played a game they didn't ask me to join, and on and on. Lisa-Jo talks about the lie we believe: that we aren't important, we don't matter and we were left out on purpose. And this is big. I think it's the same lie that Eve believed in the garden. That God was leaving her out of something. Lisa-Jo describes the kind of heart healing we need that can only come from focusing our eyes on God -- the one who always invites us into his arms, the one of loves us no matter what.
  • The third, is the fear of being (or including) the new girl. I have been the new girl numerous times and I bet you have too! One of my favorite quotes from the whole book is: "I'm so done assuming that all women know all the other women in my social circles. The thing is, there's always room for one more friend and room to know each other more." Haven't you thought the same thing? Sue knows Beth better so I shouldn't include myself . . . or I can't invite her into our group, we just won't fit as well. I am so done! 
So what can we do? How can we have lasting friendships?
Well, for starters, we can be that type of friend first! Go first! Share your story first, get awkward first, give someone your number, invite someone over, be vulnerable. Be "un-fine" as Lisa-Jo says. Next time you respond to "How are you?" with "I'm fine," ask yourself if you are purposefully trying to end the conversation?!

"I am convinced that the shortest distance between strangers and friends is a shared story about our broken places"

Lisa-Jo Baker gives six more ways to build lasting friendship but that first one - Go first and be un-fine - got me. I wait for the invitation to feel safe to be myself instead of being myself so others feel safe to be themselves. I'm always fine -- except honestly, I'm not.

After reading this book, I felt so encouraged full of courage that I wanted to go out and be a better friend to all my friends. I wanted to stop chickening out when it came time to meet new friends. I wanted to be the type of woman she described in her book -- a woman that others count on to be present, honest and real with each other.

I'm so glad I got to read this book and was able to be a part of her launch team. While reading it, I often felt that the church -- and the world -- would be a different place if we all walked this talk.

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Lisa-Jo Baker has been the community manager for www. incourage.me, an online home for women all over the world for nearly a decade. She is also the author of Surprised by Motherhood, and her writings have been syndicated from New Zealand to New York. She lives just outside of Washington D.C., with her husband and three very loud kids where she connects, encourages, and champions women in person and through her popular blog, lisajobaker.com 
I first heard about Lisa through MOPS International, but have actually been following the incourage.me website for nearly five years!

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