2000-09-19 - Friendship
Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is called today, lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
"Hi, I read your devotional because I have been having a real problem with unity in my church. I don't feel unified with but one person out of the 70 or 80 in my youth group. I'm 15 years old. I am not the only person that feels this way, but my circumstances are different from the other people … who normally live too far away to be included in a lot of things.
But my life has been somewhat different from other people. I have been alone for 10 years, without anyone extending a hand to help me, and most extending one to hurt me. I came to a church about 3 months ago and had a fun summer with them, and things seemed pretty good, but … I have been feeling really ignored lately. No one says anything to me beyond hi except for one person … she's my buddy but I hardly ever see her. I have been going through a difficult time the last month in this regard, and thought I'd made it clear to people that I was struggling, but still nothing. Most people just say hi and go off to their own best friend or circle of friends … What do you think I should do? I am OK with the current situation because I have the unity between me and my church VS. me and Christ in proper perspective, but to use an analogy, not being unified with your church is like scraping your knee; it doesn't really matter in the end, but it still hurts. Any advice?"
Your struggle and your perspective on your struggle shows a lot of wisdom and depth. Unity is worth striving for, and yet as you say, what is really important is your relationship and walk with Christ. However, fellowship and godly friendships can be a great aid to our walk with Christ. So I commend you to keep on striving in this area.
You are not alone in your struggle. I would venture to say that most, yes most, people feel alone and alienated from others in some way. It is common to wonder why so and so called this person to go out for ice cream and not me. It hurts to not be included when we are not sure why we were overlooked. But I tell you, every one feels this way at some time. There are some practical things you might be able to do which might help.
One is to pray and ask the Lord for a close friend. Ask the Lord to bring someone into your life that will become a real kindred spirit. We have a great promise in Psalm 4:3, "The Lord hears when I call to Him." This should motivate us, in all things, to be people that speak often to the Lord in prayer.
If you are praying for a close friend, begin to seek one out. Look for someone who encourages you in your walk with Christ, and someone you can encourage also. One of the quickest and deepest ways to get to know someone is to pray with them. In prayer we pour out our souls to God, and in prayer we share our deepest thoughts, fears, joys, hopes, and longings. To have a prayer partner is to have an instantly close relationship.
But not everything needs to be exclusively spiritual. Look around you and see who God has placed in your sphere of life who has like interests. There may be someone who has a hobby that you wish to take up or are already engaged in. Part of building relationships is simply getting involved in peoples lives. It means stepping out and taking risks. You will not always have the desired response when you take risks, but that is why they call it risk taking. Not everyone will respond as you hope, but maybe some will, and then the possibility of a close friendship can develop.
Lastly, you may have to take an interest in others lives before they take an interest in your life. It may be that you have to become a good listener and speak little about yourself for a while. It may be that for a while you have to ask all the questions and patiently sit through the responses when little is reciprocated your way. This must, of course, but done carefully. Your interest must be genuine, and not interrogating toward the other person. But this is also a way for people to begin to open up to you and feel closer to you than a mere "hi."
I hope this helps. I again emphasize that you are not alone in your feelings. There are many who feel like you. Some are afraid to reach out and try to build relationships because they have been hurt time and time again. But it is still worth the effort and by God's grace He may provide you with that close friend or the circle of friends that you long for.
Soli Deo Gloria,