Finding Your Friends In The Dark

(This blog was written a two weeks before the official diagnosis came. This ER visit was the very first step in being diagnosed.)

As I got into bed last night, I noticed my sheets were oddly warm. Warm from a human. A human who wasn’t my husband or one of my children.

I didn’t crawl into bed until 5:30 AM this morning. And my bed had been warmed by an irreplaceable friend who came over at the drop of a hat at 12:30 AM this morning when I called her in tears because of the pain and fear I was experiencing.

Last night I had to go to the ER. After two CAT scans and one million tests & pokes & prods they’re still not quite sure what’s going on, but that’s not the point of this blog. Read: Don’t worry, we are on it & will hopefully have answers soon.

This friend woke up to my phone call in the middle of the night, left her husband & own two small babies to come and sleep in my bed alone, with the possibility of little minions, who aren’t her own, waking her up again just a few hours later. And as I write this I tear up thinking about the indescribable blessing this sweet friend is. She’s truly irreplaceable- a Godsend.

I’m not going to share her name because I don’t want to embarrass her & I don’t want to make my other sweet friends feel less than because I’m sure they would’ve come last night too.

But I want to encourage you if you’re lonely, to read on. I haven’t always had this friend & life before her was dark. The point of this blog isn’t to brag on this friend. It’s not to boast about the amazing friends that I have in my life. It’s not to make you feel jealous or more lonely than you already may feel.

Instead, it’s to encourage you. To encourage you to find a friend that will come over at the drop of a hat. That will sleep in your bed and even leave her own children & husband to come watch yours in an emergency. A friend who leaves you feeling warm & thankful & cozy even when she’s not around. A friend that comes when you call & will sleep in your bed with sheets that haven’t been washed in three weeks.

So if you’re reading this and feeling jealous, feeling lonely, wondering where your friends are, or even believing the lie that you’re not capable of making quality friends, can I encourage you with the truth? The first year of motherhood was so very lonely for me. In fact, it was so lonely that we decided to pack up the life we were building in another state and move back to my home state near family. But guess what? Even after the big promising move, it was still lonely.

But, I reached a point after settling into our new place and realizing life was still lonely, that I needed to take action if I wanted something to change. We had moved just to “America’s hometown” in upstate New York, hoping for more friendly folk in “one of the friendliest cities in America.” But, among many beautiful, friendly people I still found no friends. ,

Actually, what I should really say is no friends found me. Because as I look back, that’s what I was hoping would happen. I was hoping friends would find me & that I wouldn’t have to do any of the hard, uncomfortable, awkward, messy work of finding new friends. I wasn’t truly looking for friends, I was hoping they would come to me. I was clammed up hoping someone would scoop me up & ask to be my friend. But, unfortunately that’s not where true friendship is found. It’s found in taking risks and doing the hard work and being authentic and putting yourself out there.

My life in 2015 felt exactly as it sounds… we were just outside of being where we wanted to be. So close to real friendships & friends, but yet so far away. It was discouraging and depressing and hard.

But, one day I made a decision. A life-changing decision. I decided I was no longer going to crawl through motherhood moping about how there were so many people around us, but I still felt so lonely. I knew I was created for community and I wasn’t meant to go at this life alone. I knew new mom friends weren’t going to come out of the woodwork, because to be honest us moms are just trying to survive in (and keep the “woodwork” in our homes clean). So I took action and magic happened (no exaggeration, actual magic took place…)

Here’s the action I took:
First, I prayed. I first prayed that God would bring me a friend. I asked him for just one friend. One really good friend. And He answered. But, the mission wasn’t accomplished once I found my one really good friend.

I had to get vulnerable with her, and be willing to ask questions about herself and be willing to say “me too” when she shared a struggle that I also dealt with.

It wasn’t easy. It was scary and it took effort from both sides. And there were times I worried about being overbearing or about how she may not be enjoying my company as much as I enjoyed hers or that my loud and sometimes unruly children would scare her and her sweet babies away.

But, those worries were lies straight from the enemy. The enemy who wants us to live in isolation. Who wants us to struggle through life, thinking we’re the only ones who have insecurities and loneliness and more-than-occasionally unruly children.

So can I encourage you with the results of that scary effort? Can I share with you how building this friendship has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life? This friendship, a true friendship of intimacy and transparency, with someone else who is in the exact same stage of life as I am has been hard work, but it’s been life changing? This sweet friend, the friend I prayed for has been a literal God send.

If you’re lonely momma, can I encourage you to pray and ask the loving Creator who made you and knows you better than anyone else in the universe to bring you the exact friend that you need in this season of your life?

You may have to wait. You may have to open your eyes and look around at who he’s already brought into your life. You may have to endure this lonely season a little bit longer. But he hears you and he knows you and in the waiting he’s truly the best friend that we could ask for.

And when she comes, ask her questions about her. Be willing to share your struggles instead of only offering advice about hers. Don’t talk about how amazing your kids are or how perfect your husband is (because they’re not), instead complement her babies and encourage her in her marriage (marriage and motherhood or not for the faint of heart.)

Stop believing the lie that you’re not worthy of friends. Stop accepting your natural tendency to shy away from people when people are exactly what you need in this season. Stop complaining about how lonely you are & not doing anything about it.

You, momma are worthy of friends. You are brave & strong & lovable. You have the power to find your tribe who will change the game for you this season.

P.S. As I edit this blog almost two months after I originally wrote it, I’m smack dab in the middle of the most challenging season of my life. Spoiler alert: We found out all that pain was cancer. This season could’ve been very dark & lonely. It had the potential to wreck me & my family. But, as I battle stage four cancer as a young wife and mom of two, I’m still advocating for the power of community.

The steps I shared above, the steps I took four years ago to find ‘just one good friend’ (the exact request I asked God for over and over again way back when) I took again in this season of fighting for my life, moving across the country to multiple new cities & homes and many potentially scary & lonely situations. In the midst of the chaos I almost forgot about the power of community, but God reminded me to ask him for just one good friend during a cancer treatment that felt unbearable. And friends, He answered again. He’s brought me another friend who is a literal answer to prayer. I pray you experience the sheer joy of finding a friend who is a physical reminder of God’s love and faithfulness. Your one (or many) good friends are out there, no matter what season of life you’re in. Go find your ‘one good friend’ and love on her (and don’t forget to thank our perfect Creator who brought you together & heard the cries of your heart).

Ali ChristianComment