I have sat more times than I can count in a coffee shop parking lot racking my brain for one single person I could ask to join me for a quick coffee date. And most of the time, I end up going in solo. Or simply going through the drive-through.
I’ll run through my list of friends and come up with excuses why they probably couldn’t make it. Because goodness knows, they’re busy mamas too. And I hate to inconvenience. And quite frankly, I don’t like to bother people. Or add one more thing to their bulging schedules. Plus I’m often so busy myself, I fail to carve out time on my own crazy calendar for important things like, well, fellowship.
So what’s holding me back from extending a simple invitation? Is it time? Apprehension? Guilt?
I think I’ve mentioned before that I am by nature a people pleaser. And with the positives of this trait (like doing well in school and work settings), there are also negatives. Like fear.
Fear of rejection.
Fear of failure.
And fear of drama. (Especially if you’ve experienced drama before.)
You see, once a people pleaser has been crushed, it gets harder and harder for them to put themselves out there. They don’t want to disappoint others, and when they do, they’re majorly disappointed in themselves. Guess you could say we’re harder on ourselves than anyone else would ever be.
And as a people pleaser with a child who tends to have these same propensities, I find myself preaching things that I myself am not doing. Like being willing to be totally honest with how you feel – rather than just smoothing over things. Or stepping out of your comfort zone in terms of relationships.
Here I am encouraging my kids to make healthy choices, like weighing decisions, being okay with saying “no” and not spreading yourself too thin – because I want them to have room to be bold in their faith and in who God has created them to be. And yet, as I challenge them in these matters, I find myself convicted in these very same areas.
Maybe it’s because it’s so easy in our social media circles to surround ourselves with lots of online friends but find ourselves devoid of actual in-person friendships. Yes, it might seem simpler that way. No accountability. Minimal hurt feelings or misunderstandings. And folks have limited real say in our lives. They can comment and “like” things that we post all they want, but never have to say those things to us face to face. Again, there are pluses and minuses to this kind of relationship.
Now please don’t misunderstand… I LOVE our online community! I do! It’s opened up so many amazing avenues to encourage one another and build community. But I don’t think it should ever be a substitute for those living breathing relationships God has wired us to want and need.
Because we need each other. We do! We are relational people who serve a relational God. He has designed us to be IN relationship and IN community with one another.Just like if we were to only listen to sermons online but never become part of a healthy church body. It’d be a one-way street. There’d be no give and take. Only take.
We were created for connection, to love and serve each other. Across the miles and across our streets. Across various demographics and social divides. To love our neighbor in whatever way that looks. No excuses.
What would happen if we leaned in closer to the heart of Jesus and listened to what He has to say on this subject? My guess is He would ask us to broaden our circles of love and influence. To welcome others in. And to not just sit by ourselves at that coffee shop, but invite a friend to join us for some caffeinated goodness, conversation and the sharing of hearts. Because He’s wonderful like that.
Other encouraging reads around this topic:
Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker
Heart Sisters by Natalie Snapp