The question was innocent. It was in a moment of stirring pasta and calling kids to get ready for dinner. My youngest had been coloring at the table, telling me about playing with her friend at recess when she asked, “Who was your best friend when you were eight?”
My hand paused above the steaming water. I was grateful we were both busy while we talked so I didn’t have to make eye contact. The truth felt like a rock being heaved into a lake.
“I didn’t have a best friend.”
She stopped coloring and asked, “Why?”
Wasn’t that a question I’d been asking all my life?
Am I doing it wrong?
I told her that I didn’t really have any close friends. I had played with kids at daycare, but I couldn’t even name them today.
I’ve never been good in the friend department. Not that I don’t want friends or that I’m not likable. Friendship has just never been a strength of mine. An only child of a single mom, I preferred adults to kids. I didn’t invest my time in peers, so they didn’t invest in me.
Fast-forward thirty years and not much has changed. I’ve learned to relate to the people around me, but the ones I count as friends are held tight in one hand. It’s always made me think I was doing it wrong.
It’s so easy to believe ‘different’ is wrong, and so hard to believe God could love ‘different’.
The pull of comparison
As women we can be so drawn to comparison. Comparing what we look like, where we live, and even our friendships. I looked around at women who had dozens of friends and thought they had it right. And if they had it right, that must have meant I was so very wrong.
Friendship is not meant to be a comparison game. It is not a measure of our worth or how likable we are. Friendship is designed to bless us, encourage us, and strengthen us. Comparing myself to others based on friendships took all those good things out of the equation and reduced friendship to numbers.
Watching people that seem to have a lot of friends can be hard. I’ve fallen into the trap of social media jealousy seeing people with hordes of close friends going out, traveling, living life together. It was like walking down the halls of middle school and hearing about everyone’s weekend as I went to my locker. The experience left me feeling lonely and less than. It still does.
A God who fills our longings
We are designed for connection. God created us to long for interaction with another. Often we begin seeking that around us; looking for it in friends or groups. We long for someone to notice us and we want to connect. When we keep seeking and filling that need for connection with the people around us we can easily lose sight of the one connection that matters most.
I wish I could show you pictures of the weekly dinner with my besties, but that’s not my reality. I can tell you that when we place our longing first in Jesus, He meets us and fills those empty places more than we ever could ourselves.
As we grow closer to Him, may we bring our longing for connection with one another before His throne, and trust that we are never alone.