Have you ever felt alone? I sure have. Let me tell you about it.
I felt alone at times throughout high school, in between friendship groups, trying to figure out where I belonged and whom I belonged to.
I felt alone at church. In the midst of doing, doing, doing, it seemed like community was sadly put on the back burner.
I felt alone in creating an online course – all those 5am starts and 1am bedtimes, building something around my full-time job. I loved it, but it sure got lonely sometimes.
I felt alone while creating, dreaming and planning new ideas for She is Light. While I had a fantastic network of fellow young female entrepreneurs, the people closest to me didn’t necessarily understand what I was doing.
Now don’t get me wrong. By saying I felt ‘alone’, this sure didn’t mean I felt alone all of the time. After all, God was with me… always!
What I mean is that there have been times, moments, where I have felt alone in the midst of what I was doing – whatever area of life that may be.
While God is with us always, and is our source of strength, peace and joy, we are designed for community with one another.
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We are designed for community
Community shouldn't be something that’s separate to the rest of your life. Community isn’t something you do on a Friday night after work or a Sunday evening after church.
Community is people who are down in the dirt with you, and you with them. Community is not just showing up for each other on the weekend, but from Monday through to Thursday.
Community isn’t gossiping about the girl next door, it’s talking about your dreams, challenges, struggles and desires with one another. Community is encouraging each other's hearts, building one another up, calling out the potential in each another, all while having a whole lot of fun!
Sometimes community means having the tough conversations – the ones that challenge you, that challenge your friends, and point you closer to God and toward your purpose.
The thing is, community doesn’t have to be big - it doesn’t have to be 40 besties and a series of Instagram Stories about a good night out to prove it. I’ll be honest - there have been times where I've measured the success of my friendships by the numbers, or by who has or hasn't asked me to hang out on the weekend. Insecurity is ugly - you've probably been there too.
But what I’ve come to appreciate more and more as the years pass by, bringing with them challenges and triumphs, is that community is those who stand the test of the time – the ones who are with you through thick and thin. After all, it’s not about the quantity of individuals who surround you, it’s about the quality. These days, my community looks like a handful of incredible girl friends from different spheres of life – women who are pursuing different career paths, some who live in different cities and others on the other side of the world. Most of them wouldn't even know the others, and we don't all hang out as a big girl gang like you see in the movies.
You see, community doesn’t have to be this big, flashy thing with selfies to prove it. It’s really just about having a safe, trustworthy space where you can let out a sigh of relief, let your guard down and be vulnerable. Community is the place where you don’t need to plaster makeup on and you don’t have to say the right words. Community is the place where you don’t have to try – it’s effortless. This kind of community is refreshing, but it doesn’t happen by accident.
Building community takes intention
If you're the girl who feels lonely right now, I've got good news for you. You can do something to create community - right now. And if you're the girl who feels happy and content with her community, I encourage you to not let it fall by the wayside, but invest in it and make it stronger.
Here are some practical ways to start (or continue) building community:
- Pray! Ask God to give you good friends, and show you how to be a good friend too.
- Reach out. Whether that’s sending an acquaintance a message on Facebook or a DM on Instagram.
- Stay. Show up 15 minutes early to your church service or hang around for 30 minutes after. Sure, it might feel awkward and uncomfortable at first (I’ve been there), but you’re putting yourself in the right place to meet someone new. If someone is sitting alone, why not go and say hello? What have you got to lose?
- Join a connect group or bible study at church. There’s no faster way to build community than by consistently and intentionally spending time with people.
If you feel like your community is on struggle street, here are some practical ways to look after it:
- Pick up the phone! Send your friends a text, check in and see how they’re going.
- Better yet… give them a call.
- One of my best friends recently moved to the other side of the world. But we make the effort to text (all the time), send photos, chat about life, and FaceTime (isn’t technology wonderful?!)
- Grab a coffee, go to the gym, go for a walk along the beach, or indulge in doughnuts – go do whatever you both love to do!
- Look people in the eye. Eye contact shows people that you’re listening to them and ultimately, that you care. (This will require you to stop scrolling and put the phone down!)
- Listen. No one wants to spend time with someone who doesn’t care about what they have to say. And how can you support, comfort and share advice with someone if you have no idea what they're talking about?
- Show up. Consistency builds community. Be there for your friends through the good times and the tough times.
I hope these practical tips help you.
Remember, community takes time
I know what it’s like to feel discouraged after trying to connect with people only to feel like you haven’t built any friendships. Don’t be discouraged by the journey. Community takes time. Be encouraged that you’re not alone in this. We’ve all been there, and we all face awkward and uncomfortable transitions from time to time – be it with work, church, or something else. It’s a normal part of life. If you will let him, God will help you through it – He will strengthen you, teach you things, and grow you.