My mom kissed me goodbye and began her seven-hour drive back to Kansas as I stood in my new front door in Denver wondering what to do next. A month after college graduation, I was starting a new chapter in the Mile High City with new roommates, new singleness, new community, and a new internship. I knew no one but I did know that God had called me to this next chapter so, despite the loneliness, I felt peace. But, what was the next step after my mom left? Make some new friends!
At first, I frequented the park with a book just to feel like I had some companionship with runners passing by. I watched TV during meal times so it wouldn’t feel so quiet at the six-person table for one. I joined online community meet-ups for running clubs and dance lessons to meet new friends but as you can imagine not a lot of conversation was happening while I was sweating and swaying from one activity to the next.
My church search was slow but found one that seemed a good fit—lots of young vibrant people. I attended the info meeting but was still unsure where to get plugged in. I remained faithful attending by myself every week, hoping that I would find a friend. But ya know what? Hoping to make friends isn’t a very effective way to make friends. Avoiding conversation with strangers also wasn’t going to aid me in finding new besties. So, it was time to try a different strategy for making new friends—putting myself out there and dating potential friends.
Now, I wasn’t an amateur to making friends but I also wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it. I had gone to a university halfway across the country without my closest friends by my side and I survived. My community certainly didn't thrive but I graduated with a few good friends that I keep in touch with today. But something about that college experience tore off the rose-colored glasses of friendship.
I was often lonely, hurting for a real friend to connect with during those four years. I pushed aside women who were genuinely seeking a relationship with me because they didn’t seem as “good” as my friends from back home. I was constantly flitting from one bible study to the next, letting people down when I moved on to the next promise of “perfect friends.” By my senior year, my inner-circle of friends was non-existent and I knew I needed to change the way I viewed the role of community in my life.
A community of believers is a gift from God. Not every Christian is given a solid group of friends that are all pursuing Jesus and chasing after holiness. Surrounding yourself with this type of a friend is an encouragement in itself. So, how could I approach my community with thanksgiving for what God had given me?
I gave a second glance at those women who were reciprocating a friendship with me and began to pursue them right back. That year I focused on loving five girls and getting to know them on a deeper level. The more time we spent together, the richer our relationships became.
So when it came to dating new friends in Denver, I wanted to have a posture of gratitude for the little conversations here and there that blessed me and kept me going until I found my core group of friends. But here is how I began my search for new friends:
1. Asking A Potential Friend Out
I found a forum on our church’s site and asked if anyone was looking for some friends. I boldly asked for what I wanted. A few coffee dates followed and some of those women became fast friends for a season; some I never saw again. It was worth the uncomfortable coffee dates to get to the friends that I could see potential in.
2. DTF (Determine the Friendship)
After six months of “doing” friendship, there were about three women that really stood out. So, when we were hanging out one-on-one I told them I wanted to go deeper. I enjoyed having lots of fun and creating memories but, I wanted to find women who could grow in their faith together. It said “I was all in” on the friendship. Declaring my commitment instantly brought us to another level of vulnerability.
3. Committing to a Larger Community
Finally, by my first year in Denver, I had committed myself to a community of believers. These were a group of people in a variety of life-stages, careers and backgrounds. We met weekly to pray, read God’s Word and encourage one another. These folks may not have been my best friends, but being a part of a larger group was healthy for my own faith as well as, the health of the larger church.
Now that I have lived in Denver for five years, I can honestly say that God has provided friends for certain seasons and friends for a lifetime. Finding friends wasn’t always easy nor is it perfect now. Yet, “how wonderful and pleasant is it when brothers dwell in unity” (Ps. 133:1). How glorified is our God when we have one mind and one voice to glorify Him (see Rom. 15:6)? God has consistently shown me that when we are grateful for the gift of community, coupled with actively reaching out to others, we will find fruit in our friendships.
God has demonstrated what it looks like to reach down and invite us into relationship so now we can confidently invite others into relationship with us. May you be encouraged to find a new friend, reach out to your current community, or write a letter of thanks for the way a friend invited you into her life.
Bio: Bailey T. Hurley is a community-builder who encourages women to root themselves in their faith so they can grow fruitful friendships. If you want to learn more about Bailey visit her at baileythurley.com and shop her community-building products. And continue the conversation over on her Instagram at @bailey.t.hurley (https://www.instagram.com/bailey.t.hurley/)