Expand Your Territory, Extend Your Hand
I don’t like to look needy. It just isn’t “my thing.” I am used to having a large circle of friends and enjoy life that way. But, it happened again. Just when I thought I had made a friend, she abruptly stopped contacting me. Play-date plans were delayed by “I’ll call you” tactics. Answers to questions were short and vague.
I tried not to take it too personally. There are all kinds of reasons people don’t look for and develop friendships, I told myself. But it still hurt. A lot. If it had been the first time it had happened, it might have been easy to blow off. However, “disappearing friends” seem to be all too common for me right now — almost enough to make me want to stop trying. Just give up on making new friends and be happy with the ones I have.
As you may have seen from my bio below, I am a rather new full-time missionary with two small children. This is the second place we’ve lived in Mexico in the last three years. Not only am I battling embarrassment over potential second-language mistakes when I am seeking to make a new friend, I am struggling to understand what might just be cultural differences. So, I usually give myself a big pat on the back when I do make the effort of extending the hand of friendship to new people.
I often feel as though I present a very “needy” face to these people I would like to be friends with. I ask them for advice, question them on the best stores in the area, look for common ground. I call them frequently. As I said, I do not like to look needy. But far worse I feel it would be to be interpreted as aloof or haughty (as Americans often are).
So, yes. I take it personally when I feel these efforts are met with a stone wall of indifference.
Why am I writing this? Because I don’t think I am the only woman that feels this way, and I don’t think it only happens in Mexico.
You see, I don’t think these wonderful ladies who have seemed to shut me out of their lives do it from malice or ill-will. I honestly think often it is just because of busyness.
I also truly believe that these women do what many of us do: Stick to their familiar and comfortable circle of friends.
How many of you know of a woman who just recently moved to your area? It may have been because of a job transfer or a marriage. Have you been able to reach out to her? I know our “regular” circle of friends and family members can keep us running from morning to night … but I can almost bet that woman would so appreciate you making a little space for her in your circle.
Why don’t you invite that woman out for coffee? Or ask her if she has been able to locate everything she needs in your community. Introduce her to some of your friends, some of your favorite hangouts. Invite her to be a part of a class or a group that you are a part of. Give her a note with an encouraging word or Scripture.
Have you ever prayed the prayer of Jabez?? “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border” (1 Chronicles 4:10). Perhaps this is a way God would like to bless you and enlarge your territory this year!
Oh, and ahead of time: I thank you for the blessing you are going to be in that needy woman’s life.