I'm Lonely, Too
- That means, for example, that a women without many friends might live to seventy-five.
- Another woman with many female friends would live into her nineties.
FACT: A study of late-stage breast cancer patients found that those with a close circle of friends had a much better chance of survival than those who did not.
- Same disease
- Same prognosis
- Same medical treatment
- Those who had close, female friends were the ones who survived.
We need each other, girls! Female friendships are life-giving. So why is it that so many of us lack deep, intimate friendships?
Oh sure. We have friends. But our definition of what that means has gotten gobbled-gooked. We think a friend is someone who clicks a button on our social networking profile or follows us on Twitter. We judge our number of friends on the amount of virtual thumbs up we get. Without meaning to, we've made the switch to defining friendship as someone knowing of us instead of someone truly knowing us and giving us the opportunity to truly know them in return.
Don't worry, this isn't a post written to harp on all that is wrong with the media. (I'm writing it on my MacBook with my iPhone and iPad close by for goodness sake!) But can I just be brutally honest? Lately, I can't shake the feeling that I've traded in deep human connection for the illusion of friendship. I know that some of you feel it, too.
Last week I spoke at a large event for teen girls on the subject of friendship. I shared my unmet desire for deep, intimate friendships despite having lots of wonderful people in my life. I counseled girls for a long time afterward who shared their own feelings of disconnectedness. They all had same desire: to be known deeply and to have friendships with other girls that went below the surface.
One girl handed me a note that said, "I'm lonely, too." My heart breaks for her and for all of the other girls out there who want deep, meaningful friendships but feel alone in their world. As I've given voice to my own desire for deep friendships, I've uncovered an unexpected epidemic. Girls everywhere, many of whom are surrounded by friends, feel largely alone and disconnected.
So what's a lonely girl to do?
I've been praying a lot about my desire for deep friendships. I expected God to respond by bringing me a huge circle of friends with fabulous collections of chunky jewelry I can borrow anytime. That's not exactly what happened. Instead, He convicted me that I haven't done a good job at being a good friend. I've kept friends at arms length because it was safer and required less of my time and attention, but it hasn't been better for me in the long run.
Lies Young Women Believe authors Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh put it this way:
You are called to be a true friend. If your focus is on who likes you, you're not pursuing true friendship. If your focus is on who is asking you to hang out with them, it's all wrong. That's not a spiritual mindset. Ask the Lord to help you be more concerned about who needs you than who likes you.
As I've taken my feelings of loneliness to the Lord, He has done two things. First, He has shown me that He alone is able to meet my desire to be known. Second, He has given me a deep love to reach out to the lonely around me and to spend my time and energy working toward being a better friend rather than having better friends. I just wanted girls to have sushi with and He has given me supernatural assurance and purpose. That's just like Him.
What about you? Do you sometimes feel alone, even if your world is jam-packed with conversations, commitments, and time with other people? Do you wish you could move away from people knowing about you and toward people really knowing you? If so, can I ask you to do two things?
- Talk to God about your feelings. I know from experience that you will find He has something to say about this area of hurt.
- Get busy being a friend who seeks to deeply know others and to do what you can to ease the loneliness epidemic that plagues so many girls' lives.
We will be talking more about friendship on the blog in the days to come. In the meantime, as God works in your heart in the area of friendship, consider this blog a safe place to share. I want to know what He's teaching you and I want to know you, friend. May this site become a place where lonely girls can come and find the kind of connection that gives life.