How do you get to the place of having solid real life friends?
I once read that loneliness can have the same health effects on your body as 15 cigarettes a day! I also saw that it increases your likelihood of dementia by 50%…or was it 45% … I can’t remember (just kidding!). And just so you know I’m serious, loneliness and social isolation are responsible for the climbing numbers of those affected by anxiety, depression and suicide. So, listen up, when it’s time to build a community…we need to get serious.
When it comes to social isolation the stats are off the charts. Not only are we smack in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s also being paired with an epidemic. What some are calling the “Loneliness Epidemic”. Experts (and moms) are already aware that this generation is going to go through some serious issues when it comes to community and socialization.
You know there is a need for community among your children but what about for you? Learning how to build community takes effort and you may be feeding yourself the lie that:
“I need to focus on my children and their socialization before mine”
“I don’t have time to take a night off and go out with the girls, I’m too busy or my kids need me or….”
I have something to tell you, you are not immune from either the pandemic OR the epidemic. They are both going to affect you. It’s time to be proactive and start putting up protection where and how you can. And that starts with building community. That’s what this week’s podcast episode is all about. On The Unhurried Life Podcast my good (#IRL) friend, Wynne Elder, and I sit down to go through a series of issues and shine truth and solution on what we’re going through.
The 6 week series is called Becoming Bold and our dream is for you to go through this with a friend. We’re giving you the tools to make the change, to take control of your life and start living in a way that honors yourself and your family. All you have to do is tune in, print the weekly workbooks and find a friend, sister, old high school buddy, whoever, to go through it with.
Free Resource: Becoming Bold Weekly Worksheet
What Does it Mean to Create Community?
Let’s talk about it. What does it mean to create community?
You have to have people in your life for when real life happens. Sometimes we all want to cling to those besties from 4th grade and I say do it. However…you need a group of women in your town.
If you’re like Wynne, she’s lived all over and we’ve all gone through lots of different stages. But it’s also so helpful to have friends close to you.
When you have community you’re taking each other meals and having someone to call at 2 AM if something happens (also you are that person someone else can call at 2 AM).
When you think about creating community ask yourself: Who would you call at 2 AM?
How do you get to the place of having solid real life friends?
If you want one of those friends you have to be one of those friends.
Where Do I Belong?
Acting like we have it all together will not produce real true friends. Neglecting to show your friends the messy process will neglect to connect you. Wynne talks about their process of adoption and failed IVF, and when you see the whole process you can connect much better than if you just saw the miracles she has right now.
It’s too easy to skip the process and go straight to the end but that only produces a false reality and makes it difficult to relate to…ain’t nobody want a perfect friend.
Remember when you’re figuring out where you belong, somebody has to be the one to do it – go first. It’s a risk, and you won’t always click on the first try. Keep at it and remember that everyone you meet and talk to is on a walk of their own.
One of my favorite things Wynne says is, “When we want to get a good friendship we have to give a good friendship.” I could not have said it better!
It takes intentionality, you can’t have a million BFF’s and it’s when we start to be ok with letting some people go (ouch I said it, but it’s needed) we can pour out our time on those that deserve it.
Who do you want to pour into?
Wynne and I talk a lot about community in this episode but I also want to point you back to the Word. The Bible has a lot to say on community but one of my favorite verses is this:
As one piece of iron sharpens another, so friend keep each other sharp
Proverbs 27:17 (ERV)
When you’re asking, “Where do I Belong”? Look for those that will sharpen, not dull you.
Find Relationships Here: The Unhurried Life Facebook Community
5 Community Building Activities
If you’re ready to go, ready to take action, great! I’ve got some community building activities for you. Keep in mind that depending on your stage, getting creative is key. It’s tough to build true community and relationships with little people around. Think about possibilities of doing things after the kids are in bed or over Zoom. I know Zoom seems weird but it’s been introduced in the last 12 months as more than just a work tool.
Here are 5 Community Building Activities:
- Be the one that goes first
- Go through the Becoming Bold Series with a friend
- Pray for community
- Write down your roadblocks or fears
- Plan a Group hangout to share stories
My close group of friends used number 5 and called it a “late over” we planned for a time to get together with the intention of sharing stories and knew it was going to go deep into the night!
The key is to plan for this and be bold in asking for community!
Why is Community Building Important?
Community building is so important and I want you to first, be aware of a lie that may sneak up on you. That lie is: I don’t have anything to give to this. Maybe you’re struggling with worth or value in your life. These times of seclusion have been hard on everyone’s self esteem.
When you take time see the gifts in others and share your own gifts you’re opening up to the possibility of deeper relationships.
Downplaying our gifts is not ok. Accept a compliment and don’t let your mind downplay it, that downplays your gifts in your own head.
Building confidence into our kids (even if it wasn’t built in you as a child) can be something that’s important for them and you. When it comes to confidence in kids sometimes it means stepping back and seeing your kids as an individual, where do they thrive and where will they flourish then go from there!
Confidence is a skill – start with going for a walk and giving a smile to a stranger, showing your kids and your family how to engage with new people.
If going for a walk and actually seeing other people, maybe it’s COVID, maybe it’s too dark or maybe you don’t live in a walker friendly neighborhood, try engaging with your waiter instead. Rather you’re on a date night or out with the family take time to talk to your waiter and introduce yourself as well as ask them some questions.
Cultivating confidence while building people skills and learning how to talk to people, forcing yourself to step out will stretch you into new realms. Wynne talks about being a part of beauty pageants when she was young and explains how she was forced into a place of leadership!
How can you speak life into what your kids, friends, and self are already gifted in, the unique gifts we posses? And how can you give them and yourself the opportunity to absorb those gifts and expand on them?
Why is community building important? It teaches your kids where to place time and value. You’re putting your money where your mouth is (or your minutes where your heart is!)
Free Resource: Becoming Bold Worksheet
How Do You Build a Community?
So, let’s get deep here. How do you build a community. Let’s say you’ve hopped into The Unhurried Life Facebook Community and you’ve found a friend or 2. Or maybe you’ve reached out to the girl down the street that has a few kids close to your kids ages. Where do you go from there?
You want to be instilling confidence in yourself and seeing the accomplishments you’ve made. Looking at how far you’ve come, instead of how far you have to go.
Now it’s time to make a real life group of women come together. It would be awesome to do this face to face, sitting right next to someone but…Zoom may be a good solution (at least for the time being!)
First step in building a community is going through this series and life together. I’m giving you the perfect tool to be bold and go deep with intention.
Second step is going to be to pray – who else is looking for this – ask to be lead to them.
Next, look for any roadblocks – the fear of rejection, ‘what if they don’t like me’, it’s a risk to possibly be rejected, it may not happen the first time. And remember some things we talked about in The Unhurried life Podcast episode this week!
“Everyone comes into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Not everyone is here for a lifetime. Letting go of that expectation of “forever”.
“If you don’t risk it you don’t know what’s on the other side.”
Where to Find Community
I hear ya. Jen, my whole city (aka – life) is shut down. Where can I find community when we’re all afraid to even get out of the car. We don’t want you to feel like you have to make a new community. Although new is nice it’s not always what you need (or have access to). When it comes to finding community look back and see where you already have relationships.
Surly you had a pack of kids you ran around with in high school. Yea, it’s been (gosh, nearly 20 years) but one of the benefits of social media is you could probably find them. Chances are they aren’t in your town so sending them a DM or asking to do a mega life catch up one evening on Facetime is where you can start.
Remember all we’ve talked about. Getting over the fear of rejection and stepping out. On the podcast in this week’s episode Wynne gives some amazing examples of what happened when she stepped out and went first.
Does finding community always happen in one DM? Nope, if only. Be prepared for it to take a while. Hop in a Facebook community (hint hint, nudge nudge – check mine out) and ask a few ladies there to form a small group. Once you start to think about all the ways we can find community virtually it’s up to you to take in that one step further. The #IRL (in real life) step is scary but well well worth it.
Sharing Your Story
Next week we continue the Becoming Bold Series on The Unhurried Life Podcast and right here. So that you can stay in the loop and get updated make sure you’re subscribed (and left a review) for the podcast but really really, make sure you click here and grab the weekly Becoming Bold Worksheets, delivered straight to your inbox.
Once you’ve established community and learned that building relationships or rebuilding relationships is something you can do it’s time to go deeper. Imagine if we had never taken a breath and dove down under the surface of the ocean. What would we have missed? You’ve established a friend or a few now, how are you going to go deeper with them and truly connect?
That’s what next week’s episode is all about. The 6 week series is called Becoming Bold and our dream is for you to go through this with a friend. We’re giving you the tools to make the change, to take control of your life, and start living in a way that honors yourself and your family. All you have to do is tune in, print the weekly workbooks and find a friend, sister, old high school buddy, whoever, to go through it with.
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