My Journey to Friendship

  • 24 August 2020

Intermittently over the last few months, I have been asking questions on Facebook about relationships: How important are they? How do you maintain a good friendship? and other similar inquiries. So I found it interesting that our pastor’s wife chose The Friendships of Women by Dee Brestin for our book discussion in July.

This book took me down memory lane in a way that no other has, as I began to reflect on a childhood with very few friends to a life full of people who care about me. Maybe you will identify with the first half of my life. Maybe you’re there now. I’d like to help you to step outside of your fears and insecurities and find the person or people who will encourage you to be all that you can be for your Father.

When I was a child, I don’t remember a lot of other children in our church. If they were there, I decided early on that I preferred the company of women in their late teens and 20s. Fortunately for me, there were several young ladies who were willing to let me hang around instead of treating me like a burden. I would sit with them and talk with them any chance I got, and never thought about the fact that they might not want to be pestered by a 6-year-old girl. We also had neighbor boys that we played whiffle ball with, and I still treasure those memories. Those were days when life seemed perfect. I just knew that everyone liked me. After all, how could anyone not like a cute blond-haired, blue-eyed little girl?

Although I was homeschooled for most of my growing up years, I did attend public school Kindergarten as well as 4th and 7th grade private school. My brother was popular in school, but I was not. He tells people that I was teacher’s pet, and he was teacher’s nightmare. This is not far from the truth. I was shy and could not figure out how to fit in with the other girls so I either stayed to myself or close to the teacher. When I was nine years old, we attended a conservative Christian school where the students wore uniforms, and the teachers still disciplined unruly behavior. I spent most of every recess walking back and forth along the gym wall running my fingers on the heater until my brother had pity on me and asked the boys if they minded if I played basketball with them. They were always gracious, and I did learn to hit a basket (which I can no longer do unfortunately). One day, my brother told me that I just needed to jump into whatever game the girls were playing. I cautiously approached some girls who were jumping rope and asked, “Can I play?” “No. You can’t play with us” had me running to the bathroom crying and, unfortunately, I hadn’t stopped before the teacher walked in. She asked what happened so I told her, and that probably sealed my fate with the girls the rest of the year. I believe it was then that I discovered there are other girls that are not popular and could use a friend, so I began to seek out those who were also sitting on the sidelines and not surrounded by many friends.

One thing I learned in fourth grade that I don’t think I had encountered before is how two-faced girls could be. One girl, in particular, would act like she liked me, and even tell me so, until the popular girls came around. Then she was quick to distance and make it clear that she did not want me hanging around. I determined at that point that I did not want to be like that.

When I was a teenager, we attended a couple of churches that had girls around my age. At one church, the only friend I had was the pastor’s daughter who, by the way, is the only friend from my childhood that I’ve stayed in touch with, and we continue to be good friends today. At another church, there were a couple of teenage girls who were nice to me, but I didn’t see them much outside of church, and it was obvious that my life was different from theirs. They came from in-tact homes for one thing, and they didn’t have little sisters to take to the restroom. (In time, my sisters became some of my closest friends but, back then, I did not always embrace these responsibilities.)

When I was 17, we moved to Texas and joined a church that had a lot of girls my age. I did make some friends there but lost touch with most of them after we moved away. Then began a long road of adjusting to friendlessness. During that time, I began to answer phones for my mom’s publishing company. At first, it was a job, but, eventually, it became a calling. People would tell me that they could hear me smile when I said “Hello,” and that just hearing my voice brightened their day. I realized then that no matter how my day was going, God had given me a way to bless others. I also found that I was really able to connect with people and, in some cases, I began to feel a friendship with some of our repeat customers even though we had never met. I was wary at times, wondering why people would want to be friends with me, but I thanked God for those opportunities.

When I was in my 20s, we ended up leaving a church that we had been attending for a couple of years, and rumors were spreading about my family. For the first time in a long time, I had gone out of my way to befriend some of the women and now they were gone. No one wrote or called to see how I was doing or what really happened to cause us to leave, and I was hurt. Sure, I could have reached out too, but I was young and, at the time, I felt like they were too willing to listen to gossip than to check on me and find out the facts. This propelled me back into thinking that it is best to stay guarded and not open myself up to others.

What a journey it has been to take me from that frame of mind to the present. As the years progressed, I began traveling more, running book tables at churches and conferences and, in time, I found people who seemed to enjoy getting to know me for me, not just because they thought I was “somebody.” This took some getting used to, but God is so good, and He has blessed me with many friends across the country. Plus, thanks to being home this year, I have begun to once again actively seek local friendships as well, and God is blessing in that department too.

The older I get, the more I realize that relationships are important. They are the only things we will take to Heaven with us. It sounds nice to say, “If I don’t see you here, I’ll see you up there,” but the reality is that we won’t need each other in Heaven the way we do here. On earth, we benefit from the encouragement that our Brothers and Sisters have to give, and God has enabled us to give back to others. It was hard to overcome the insecurity of thinking that people wouldn’t like me, but I used to remind myself that, if I am reaching out to others in the name of the Lord, it’s not my fault if they don’t respond or if they take it the wrong way. I often quoted the King James rendering of Proverbs 18:24, “He that has friends must show himself friendly,” and I strove to do just that.

A few years ago when I was going through a “down” time, someone told me that I am the most loved person she knows. When I thought about it, I knew that she was right. I really am loved! Not just by God but also by people all over the country! When a child is growing, you’re not noticing every heightened inch but, at some point, you wake up and realize, You are getting tall! So it is with spiritual growth. I don’t know how or when I went from suspecting everyone to opening up and choosing to be real, but I do know that God produced that change, and He has blessed me abundantly with people that I know love and care for me. This is not to say that one shouldn’t use wisdom in relationships. There are people that I sense would bite me if they had the chance, and with them I am guarded. But I also have friends that I trust, and this is important.

I am now into my 40s, and it’s still not uncommon for insecurity to try to rear its ugly head, but with God’s help, I plan to keep reaching out, to remember that He is able to complete the work He’s begun in me, and in all of those that He brings into my life.

Although the focus of this post has been about myself, I don’t want it to just be an information piece. Instead, I hope someone will benefit from reading about my journey. Never forget that some of the most confident-looking people are really shy, insecure children at heart. Maturity won’t stay there, however, but will instead blossom into a child of God who shines His light to those around them. My prayer is that, if you have withdrawn into a cocoon, afraid of being hurt, you will ask God to show you how to reach out and to whom. It’s not easy. There are still a lot of self-protective people who will hurt others. But there are also genuine followers of Christ who desire to be a blessing. I pray that you will find those people and, when you do, do not let them go.


If you care to share, I would love to hear about your dearest friend: what you like about him or her and how God brought you together. Do not include your spouse in your story unless you were good friends before you began dating.


Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

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