Books · Friendship · Rooted in Christ

Messy Beautiful Friendship – There You Are!

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It was midnight when we rolled into the driveway of a city hotel under the cover of pitch darkness and a brooding storm that had escorted us into our new state, half way across the country. For months as we were planning to move, I couldn’t envision this new place and so in my mind, the state of Missouri was completely dark. And when we arrived to our hotel where we’d be living for a week as our new apartment was being prepared, I opened the handle of the driver’s side door into blackness which was lightened only by the hotel’s inner brightness and some funky pop music to usher me out of my stressed out, post traumatic state of having driven for about 15 hours straight, the last few hours having been pummeled by a thunder and lightning storm. Darkness. What I had envisioned about this state was still true in my perception. Our family was alone, isolated, with no friends or family, and without a clue as to what we would wake up to in the morning.

The morning did come. We awoke to blue, sunny skies overlooking a city, although all I could see from our hotel room was trees for miles. Trees! Now I knew two things about Missouri… storms and trees! The light was beginning to dawn on the beauty of the new land we had come to and our perception of this amazing state was getting into focus.

As we bravely left our hotel room to visit the campus, we were met by strangers who would become dear friends and neighbors. We were met by introductions, small talk, and “what’s your phone number? I’ll give you a call and we’ll get together!” More light was coming into view and our vision of what our home could be for the next three years started to become clearer. In fact, there was one woman on campus, Liz, who had been silently preparing for my arrival for several months and when we finally met in person, she was like a magnet that drew me in and connected me with other women, giving me much to look forward to in friendships here and what God might do in the life of our family here.

That’s what I call a friendship magnet. Like Christine Hoover says in her latest book, Messy Beautiful Friendship,

The truth of the matter is that we all have the ability to be friend-magnets when we enter a room with the words, intentions, and body language of seeing others–There you are!–rather than saying Here I am! Everyone look at me! Everyone listen to me! or the opposite, false humility response, I hope no one notices me. I will feel too self-conscious. We esteem others as more important than ourselves. We keep an eye out for the one standing on the fringe of the circle. We move toward the outside and pull those we find there into the mix. And let’s face it: Don’t we all feel like we live on the fringes in some capacity? Haven’t we all felt like an outsider at some point? We all know the relief of someone pulling us from the outside to the inside. We’ll be their friends for life.

In fact, I’m pretty sure my dear friend did say those exact words several times, “There you are!” She was so outward-focused and so eager to serve and connect me to the community that she invited me and our four kids out to the zoo with her and her kids while still living at the hotel that first week! We weren’t even in our new place yet. After that, she sent her older sons to collapse all our moving boxes that were strewn about on our patio. She sent food, invited us for dinner, play dates, and since then, many more coffee dates!

Christine writes,

Keep an eye out for the marginalized, the fringe, the new, the lonely, the quiet and unsure ones. Your influence pointed in the direction of an outsider can have great impact. It doesn’t take much—a word of welcome, an invitation to a playdate, a thoughtful encouragement about a job well-done, or remembering her name—and a whole new world opens up for the one who needs a world, any world, to open up.

I’m so thankful for this friend who reached out to me during a time of great need, even before I stepped onto the campus of our new home away from home. It meant the world to me! With the stability of a growing friendship with her, I was then able to, slowly, reach out to other women here and begin to offer the same kind of friendship I had received from her, to them.

Blessings on your journey of friendship,
Jen

**

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I am a part of Christine Hoover’s launch team for her new book, Messy Beautiful Friendship. One of my favorite things to do is to share great Christian resources with other women, as well as promote or share the creative work of other women as they use their divinely designed gifts to serve God and the Church. It is an honor to pair these two loves into helping promote her new book which will be released on April 18th. Below, you will find one of these excerpts. Enjoy, and be blessed in the gift of friendship!

 

 

How to Be a Friend Magnet

Perhaps you’re one of those people with friends coming out the wazoo. I am friends with people like you. You are likable, fun, considerate, helpful, and all-around good human beings. You are awesome. I flock to you.

These friends of mine, upon hearing that I was writing a book on friendship, asked me to tackle these questions: How does one foster intimate, true friendships and remain hospitable without becoming cliquish? Is it even healthy to cut off the number of friendships you have?

The friends that I mention are women using their influence to serve others, honor others, seek out the best interest of others, and love others in a way that brings glory to the Lord. For those who are jealous of the friend-magnets in your midst, to be fair, I don’t think it’s as cut and dried as it seems. I believe these women are a real-life chicken/egg scenario: do people come toward friend-magnets simply because of who they are, or do these friend-magnets consistently go toward others ready to bless and honor? I see my friend-magnet friends working hard at friendship and being extremely others-centered. They are genuinely interested in others, honor others, and listen to others. My friend-magnet friends all have wildly different personalities, so it’s not that they have a charisma necessarily, although I think they are delightful people. They are simply people who consistently go toward others, no matter who they are, and seek to make other women feel comfortable.

If you are a person who attracts friends easily, please know that you’ve been given a gift from the Lord. You’ve been granted a magnetism and a way of making people feel loved. Thank Him for this gift, but please also recognize that this gift is not about you. The gift you’ve been given is the gift of influence, and it’s important to consider how you will use it.

If you are a woman who attracts friends easily, my encouragement to you is to use your influence to serve the outsiders. Keep an eye out for the marginalized, the fringe, the new, the lonely, the quiet and unsure ones. Your influence pointed in the direction of an outsider can have great impact. It doesn’t take much—a word of welcome, an invitation to a playdate, a thoughtful encouragement about a job well-done, or remembering her name—and a whole new world opens up for the one who needs a world, any world, to open up.

The truth of the matter is that we all have the ability to be friend-magnets when we enter a room with the words, intentions, and body language of seeing others–There you are!–rather than saying Here I am! Everyone look at me! Everyone listen to me! or the opposite, false humility response, I hope no one notices me. I will feel too self-conscious. We esteem others as more important than ourselves. We keep an eye out for the one standing on the fringe of the circle. We move toward the outside and pull those we find there into the mix. And let’s face it: Don’t we all feel like we live on the fringes in some capacity? Haven’t we all felt like an outsider at some point? We all know the relief of someone pulling us from the outside to the inside. We’ll be their friends for life.

An honoring person who looks for the outsider soon becomes a safe person for many, many women. In other words, her opportunities for friendship are abundant and overflowing. This is why my people-magnet friends are asking, “How does one foster intimate, true friendships and remain hospitable without becoming cliquish?” and “Is it even healthy to cut off the number of friendships you have?” Because a person who honors others will eventually have to navigate these things.

And I say, in response, that part of honoring others is connecting others. There is a special kind of joy in connecting two women we think will hit off or who share a story, interest, or life circumstance in common. We don’t have to be everyone’s bestie, and just because we’ve included someone doesn’t mean we have to become their intimate friend. We can help foster community among women by being a bridge between them.

So, for my darling friends who are worried about having too many BFFs to handle, this is what I would say: honor all and be deep friends with some. Be friendly and hospitable to all and give intimate attention to a few. Welcome all. Keep an eye out for all. Love all. You don’t have to be close friends with everyone, but you can certainly use your God-given influence to bless others and connect women with one another. Be a friend magnet and you’ll attract joy too.

This post is an excerpt from Christine Hoover’s new book, Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships, which explores the joys and complexities of friendship among Christian women. Find out more about Christine at www.gracecoversme.com.

To preorder Christine’s new book, click here! As well, watch this wonderful interview with Ruth Chou Simons of Gracelaced.com. In it, Christine and Ruth talk about overcoming hurts in friendship. This 30 minute video is packed full of godly, Biblical wisdom and truth.

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