When I was in elementary school, three friends and I formed a club. I can’t remember what we called it, but I do remember that we bought matching jackets. They were green with rainbow stripes down the sleeves! (And a belated thank you to Dad and Mom for paying for that special jacket!)
For many of us, wanting a group of friends to belong to starts at an early age. I can vouch for the importance of teen friendships as I watch my daughters learn how to navigate peer relationships. And even in my forties, I recognize the value of having friends to confide in as we walk through the seasons of life.
Because we have different personalities, you and I likely have unique struggles when it comes to friendships. But perhaps many of us can relate to this Instagram post from Lisa-Jo Baker that I scrolled past recently.
Sometimes — even when we’re minivan driving moms — I think our brains play tricks on us and make us think there is an elusive “cool kids” table. This is totally bogus. Instead I’m trying to retrain my brain to focus on the seat and the woman (or next door neighbor kid or family member) siting right in front of me or right next to me. It just takes practice.
I love this on so many levels. First of all, it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who thinks I’m not invited to the “cool kids” table!
And she mentions that this table is elusive. Yes, we’ve thankfully moved past the middle school days where there may have been an actual table in the cafeteria for what were considered the “cool kids.” But when we see that group of besties posting a picture on Facebook or Instagram of all the fun they’re having, we can feel like we’re missing out. If we’re not road tripping with our girlfriends or getting together for coffee with them once a week, we can feel lonely or left out. Insecurities about ourselves and our relationships can pop up at a moment’s notice.
So what’s the point of Lisa’s post? The question that came to my mind was, “Where’s my focus when I’m having those kind of thoughts?” On myself. It’s all “Woe is me.”
Lisa’s challenge is to focus on another person. Who needs a friend? Who do I come into contact with on a daily or weekly basis that would love for someone to connect with them? Whether it’s my husband, my daughter, or my next door neighbor, I’ll likely have the chance to be a friend to someone today.
We could probably all quote Proverbs 18:24, “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly…” But sometimes I’m so wrapped up in myself that I don’t think about how to meet the need of another woman who may be lonely. Instead of wishing I had been invited to hang out with a particular group of women, I can ask to spend time with someone I’d like to know better.
As Lisa says, it takes practice. Putting others first, in any area of life, usually does. And every gesture of friendship I make may not lead to a long-term relationship with a “kindred spirit.” But reaching out to encourage another woman is always a good thing.
So instead of thinking about what I might be missing by sitting at a different table, let me focus on who is right beside me that I can befriend today.