We all have a comfort zone where we feel the safest. When you are in the zone, you feel like nothing and nobody can hurt you. That is a very powerful feeling. It’s like a warm, cozy blanket wrapped around you, keeping out everyone that might cause you pain. But sometimes being in the zone can be more harmful than getting yourself out and about. You become angry and suspicious, and fear takes over your life. In the past, this fear has been my excuse not to reach out to other people. I was afraid that if I open up and try to make a new friend, something bad will happen. I have been hurt in the past by those I thought were my friends, and I just wasn’t going to go through that again. But God sometimes has other plans for you and your family.
There has been something I have learned over the past few years. If you put yourself out there, if you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you might just be surprised at the joy you can feel when you toss off that blanket and step away. I am so used to my own routines and my own expectations, that I wasn’t fully ready to embrace what God was trying to tell me about friendship: God helps those who help themselves. By that, I mean, I needed to take the first step. Instead of saying “no” to something new, I actually took a few minutes to think about it. Several years ago, our kids won 2 baseball games that on paper, they never should have won. Normally after a game, I am ready to take off and head to the safety of my own home. My husband, on the other hand, has to hang around and
talk with the guys go over each and every ball, strike, and out. Normally I just wait in the car until he is finished. Well, after those past few games, I actually stood around and interacted with the coaches, and a few Moms. Lo and behold, things started changing.
Normally, when I am at a game, I have my head buried in a book until the game starts, and then I just focus on cheering on my son. Lately, things were different because I have been making the effort to talk to more of the parents, and even the siblings of the team. Now, games are spent talking, laughing, cheering, instead of being in a corner by myself. Why? Because I stopped expecting people to know what I wanted, and made the first move. Your body language says a lot more than you think. If you close yourself off, people will just leave you alone because that is what you are projecting.
After those two unlikely wins, one of the parents invited DH, myself, and the boys back to their house for a celebration. Normally we’d just say no and go home. However, God must have been working in both our hearts that night, because we said yes. Let me tell you, it was the most fun we have had in a long time! The kids all played together for 4 straight hours after just playing a 3 hour baseball game. They got along. They worked together. They looked out for each other. They said they couldn’t wait to do it again. We learned a lot from our kids that night. Imagine looking at your watch and seeing that it was past 11pm, and not once did you think about going home.
Fast forward to this year. These people, whom I never would have thought I had anything in common with, have turned out to be great friends. It’s no longer just a baseball family, as gatherings have been expanded to include birthday parties, pool parties, and holiday parties as well. And it all happened because the kids wanted to get together and play baseball after the game. It’s amazing what children can teach you about life, friends, and living.
So some things to remember when you want to start friendships with others:
*Just say “YES”~instead of immediately saying no, stop and take a moment to think things over. Talk it over with your spouse, their answer may just surprise you!
*Watch your body language~You may think you are open to new people and experiences, but your body is telling people otherwise. If you are closed off, no one will approach you.
*Make the first move~go over and talk to people, don’t wait for them to come to you. If they don’t want to reciprocate, then move on. And try not take their response personally. There may be something else going on in their lives that make attempts at communication unwelcome, at that moment.
*If you need something, ask!!~people are not mind readers. It’s not fair to others or yourself to expect them to know what you need, or what you like or dislike. By being upfront, you can save yourself a world of hurt.
*Above all, enjoy yourself~by just sitting back and observing, you can often find a zone of comfort that allows you to interact on your own terms.
It’s never easy making changes, especially when it comes to making friends. In this life, it’s often easier to go with the flow than try something new. But that often leaves us empty and wanting more. Be friends to all that cross your path. You never know if one of those people will just become that lifelong friends you have been asking for!