My name is Lexi Hernandez and I am the Pastor here at Growth Co. We prioritize building meaningful and lasting relationships with one another, because we know how important community is for ALL people, but in this case, especially for those of us in our 20s/30s. This is a world designed to praise the individual…but WE weren’t designed that way, so you can see where conflict may arise. I just turned 26 last week, and I wanted to share some thoughts on what it’s like trying to build friendships in a world that encourages us to be the King/Queen of our own life, with little regard for others.
I read a book called “Find Your People: Building Deep Community in a Lonely World.” by Jennie Allen. It has completely changed my outlook on life and friendship.
Learn more about her and her books here: https://www.jennieallen.com
In the first few pages, there is the paragraph below that just blew me away. It says:
IT HASN’T ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY.
In nearly every generation since creation began, people have lived in small communities, hunting together, cooking together, taking care of their kids together. No locks, no doors. They shared communal fires outdoors and long walks to get water, doing their best to survive day by day. People were rarely alone. They lived communally, in shared spaces, with a variety of generations present – leveraging each other’s talents, sharing each other’s resources, knowing each other’s business, caring for each other’s family members, holding each other accountable, and having each other’s backs 0 not just to stay alive, but also in an effort to live more fulfilled…together.
Prior to COVID, in 2019, a study was published showing that 3 out of 5 people considered themselves lonely. Emphasis on the word “prior”. Could you imagine what that statistic might be now? The thoughts are absolutely devastating. There should be zero shock to anyone on this planet that collectively, all living humans right now are experiencing some of the worst and highest cases of anxiety, depression and suicide. Like I mentioned, this world has become one designed to encourage loneliness.
So let’s share some hope…
Feeling seen, heard, accepted, and encouraged are some of the greatest feelings in this life. Knowing this, when I think about how many people in my life truly help me feel those ways, I’m saddened by the reality of the number. I love a lot of people. I easily extend grace to them and love them through their struggles. Except, there are only a few people in this world who I allow to FULLY know me. What if we started actively letting people know us better. Sharing more parts of ourselves, regardless of rejection. The reward of being fully known is always greater than the risk of being hurt. How can we do this?
Allen gives practical and applicable advice on how to help us build friendships. The first step is to notice. This requires close to nothing from us! It’s an observation of the people around you in the places that you already are. For example, as I type this I’m in the same room as my husband, Tony. He’s on his phone, I’m on my computer. We’re not speaking, and are essentially living 2 individual lives in the same physical space. This happens EVERYWHERE you go. Think of class, the coffee shop, work, grocery store, gas station, etc. There are always other people sharing spaces with you. Just look around!
In order to form true friendships/relationships, you may have to experience some awareness. GREAT! Yes, that’s great! No growth happens in your comfort zone, and feeling awkward means you are out of your comfort zone, and we love to see that! Invite someone to go places with you that you are already going to. This step isn’t asking you to add more social events to your calendar, rather, making what’s already on your calendar, more social. If you’re going to get gas, groceries, coffee, etc. invite someone to go with you! Car rides can be one of the best places to bond with people. If from step 1 you begin to notice the same people at the locations you frequent, start a conversation with them. Ask if they’d like to sit with you.
I know this will be a complete turn off for some people who consider themselves more introverted, but I promise your life will be FULL from it.
This is totally my personal opinion, but I believe that the cancel culture is so incredibly harmful for our mental health. We’ve unintentionally learned to serve only ourselves and to shew away any inconvenience that comes our way. This is also teaching us that healthy conflict is NOT possible. We’re losing our ability to practice saying things such as “I’m sorry” / “Will you forgive me” / “I forgive you” / “Let’s talk this through” / “I value our friendship, I want to fix this”.
We should practice learning how to stay when things get difficult in a friendship. This does NOT mean to excuse mental or physical abuse. Rather, learn to react to inconveniences in healthy ways, because we ARE human.
It’s possible to build deep and meaningful friendships in today’s world. Community is necessary for our well being. Let’s be intentional about creating it for ourselves and for those around us.
In what ways can you practice noticing, initiating, and staying in your life?
Thank you for reading this week’s “On Draft” Blog Post!
We’d love to have you write a featured blog for “On Draft”! It can be about any and everything you’d like. This is a space for fellow 20s/30s to share ideas, ask questions and explore with one another. If you’d be interested in writing for “On Draft” – please email Lexi Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org or text us at (704)-476-1050.
We look forward to hearing from you!