In April, (in)courage gave us the (in)RL conference. One of their speakers talked about a bench she put in her cul-de-sac that became a common ground for all the neighbors. They sat on that bench and talked and shared and laughed. We too can build benches in our lives, and even have ‘bench girls’. But it’s not easy to do. This has been heavy on my heart lately, and I’d love to start processing this idea of building benches with you all. So I’m starting with one letter. Hopefully there will be more, but I make no promises =)

I offer you this particular letter in solidarity. That you may find yourself in the words, and know you aren’t the only one. So if you have been the one reaching out, or the one quietly parched for friendship, or the one totally oblivious to her neighbor
(I myself have been all three this week alone), this is for you.

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Dear lady who is trying to make a friend,

I see you.

I know the pit you have in your stomach won’t go away by sipping your coffee, but that holding the cup gives you something to do. I saw you when you walked into the room, when for a moment, you just stood there, not knowing where to sit or what to do.

You are so brave to have walked in at all.

I know the pep talk you just gave yourself, seconds before approaching the group. How you said, ‘Take a risk. They’re here to meet with Jesus and so they’ll be nice. You can do this.‘ I heard you tell her how cute her purse is, how she thanked you, then walked away. I saw you falter for a minute, then steel yourself and boldly sit at a table full of ladies. I watched you pull out your phone, then tuck it back in your purse (which is super cute, btw. Where did you get it?), resolving to make offline connections .

You are so brave to be sitting where you are.

I see you breathe a sigh of relief when the speaker started, grateful to not have to sit in alone silence anymore. When the women start making playdate plans around you, I see you crumble a little bit. And this is when it gets really hard. Because why don’t people want to hang out with you and your kids? They’re awesome and adorable! And you’re smart and funny and nice, and you make really good coffee.

You are worth being friends with.

I think you know that, which makes this all the more painful and confusing. It’s reminiscent of fourth grade, right? We’ve talked about that before. It’s not supposed to be like that anymore, since we’re grownups now. But grownups (kind of like fourth graders) aren’t always kind or selfless.

You think about your friend from college, and how you haven’t phoned in ages and she hasn’t texted you just to say hi, and what business do you have trying to make new friends when you obviously can’t nurture the ones you already have? And didn’t you turn down that coffee date last week because your kid was feeling less than stellar and you just couldn’t do one.more.thing? Maybe you’re not really all about community and friendship. And the doubt creeps in, in all its untruthfulness.

You care deeply about friendship. 

I know this. Making friends is hard. Keeping friends is even harder. No matter how many invitations you have to turn down, or wish you received, or hand out to others, you care about being a good friend. On this day, this beautiful sunny day, you dropped off your crying toddler with the {blessed} childcare workers, poured yourself a cup of coffee, and chose hope because you care. And when that woman invited you to sit at their table, you could have cried with gratitude. But you didn’t. You just smiled, thanked her, and introduced yourself.

You are not alone. 

anna <><
{girl with blog}

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