It's back-to-school time. New schedules. New opportunities. New friends.
photo credit: usag.yongsan
It's not just the kids seeking out new friendships. Mommies may search the sea of unfamiliar faces for a inviting smile. Someone to include her in the inner circle.
But what happens if every mom she meets already has a "full table" of friends? If each mom already has established church friends, playgroup friends, old college friends, then we feel we don't need anyone else to meet our friendship needs.
If my table is full and your table is full, who is going to make a space and pull up an extra chair for this mom? To continue the analogy...she may have the best chocolately brownies in her lunch box and wants to share. But we'll never know all she has to offer because she's forced to eat alone.
Having been homeschooled from 3rd grade to 8th grade, I know the feeling of being left out of the circle. Literally. At junior high youth group all the girls with mile-high bangs & permed hair wearing neon chatted in a circle. With their backs to me, I tried to "work" my way in. But they were content to enjoy laughter & chatter. They weren't looking around to invite me in. Each girl was looking out for herself & her comfort.
Is it any different now that I've exchanged neon Umbros a neon tank (the 80s are back!)? Now when I arrive at a back-to-school event I'm in the circle. It may not be the "coolest" circle, but I find my friends and catch up. There is nothing wrong with maintaining good friendships, right? But "she" is over at the snack table trying to look busy. Because the new girl doesn't have a friend to walk straight up to. She may need me to make the first move.
I challenged you last August to meet 3 new people. How did that go?
If you struggle with making room at your table or your table is legitimately full, here are three tips:
- Invite her to an event you are already attending. It feels good to be invited and to know one person. Perhaps at the event/Bible study/play group God will bring the perfect friend who doesn't have a full table.
- Introduce her to another new girl. Just because you do the "reaching out" doesn't mean you have to be best friends with everyone you meet. Become a people connector. Introduce two new people you have met to one another. Have both new moms meet you at a park. Then step back and allow their friendship to grow.
- Be honest. Maybe you have overcommitted yourself and you know you can't be the kind of friend you'd like to be. Say that. Tell her your life is full but you would love to get to know her. I shared this with a new mom to Dallas and she invited us over for dinner. There was no work for me. She wasn't asking me to add anything to our schedule that we don't already do (like eating dinner). It was a great time to share the ins & outs of Dallas and help a new family feel "plugged in".
This is an exercise in humility. Serving others before yourself. You (and I) will be tempted to seek out comfort. Looking for a familiar face. But let's resist the comfort and embrace "the new girl".
We may discover a rich, new friendship. We may learn something new. We may give her a reason to smile that day.
I've been the new girl. I am the new girl. Thank you to all those who have welcomed me in the past and will in the future!
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”-C.S. Lewis
Today I'm writing over at The MOB Society about my experience with a new friend. An email led to an entire new table of friends (literally every other Monday we sit at a round table). Click here to read more.