Coping with life's ups and downs

Cropped image of beautiful business team holding hands and praying while sitting in office

A recent study found that the average American hasn’t made a new friend in five years. The research, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Evite, delved into the social dynamics of 2,000 Americans.

Forty-five percent of the adults polled said they find it difficult to make new friends. The majority of respondents cited friendship-making barriers that include aversion to the bar scene, where they claim most people choose to socialize, being shy and moving to a new city.

Reading these results made my heart heavy. I am in a season of life where I do not know how I would have made it without the love and support of my friends here in Fredericksburg.

When I received word that my husband had been rushed to the hospital after suffering a heart attack while at work, one of the first calls that I made was to a friend who runs the prayer line at church. Within minutes, my phone started to “blow up” with texts of encouragement.

The next few days revealed how many connections I have made since moving here 10 years ago. While my husband was having a blockage removed and a stent put in place, hundreds of people all over this town were praying for him—the families in our homeschool co-op who were meeting for chapel, the ladies at my church’s women’s Bible study, church friends who had gotten the word and who went to their knees to petition for my husband’s life.

That night, friends came to the hospital to bring me food and to give me much-needed hugs. Two ladies went to my house and packed bags of clothes for me and my children (who were staying with their grandmother). Another two friends went shopping for Easter baskets and dresses. The night before Easter, a wonderful family came to our house to hide eggs, so my daughters would be able to hunt them the next morning. We have had people bring us meals, clean our house and mow our lawn.

More importantly, they have stood in the gap for us. They have prayed for us when we didn’t have the words. They have pointed us back to God and His promises when we began to doubt. They have reminded me that I needed to let myself cry, but to not let fear take root in my heart.

These past few weeks have been a beautiful illustration of what the early church was like. We read in Acts 2 that the first Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings and to fellowship. They ate together and prayed together. They spent time with each other and had everything in common. They gave their possessions to anyone who had need.

Theirs was a community based on a mutual love of Christ and a commitment to live out His teachings. Our modern churches look much different than that first one, but when functioning properly they provide the same loving, supportive, life-giving community.

I found it interesting that 45 percent of people polled indicated that they wanted to make new friends, but they didn’t know where to look outside of the bar scene. If that is you, might I suggest checking out your local church? Or if you are a mom, a Mothers of Preschoolers group is a great option.

Many churches offer weekly small groups that allow you to build deeper connections than can happen on a Sunday morning. In fact, it is becoming increasingly common for churches to have more people attending these groups during the week than they have sitting in their pews on Sunday mornings.

We were created in the image of a relational God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and were designed to live in deep connection with other people, not alone. Our greatest fulfillment is found in the relationships we build, not in achievements, careers or possessions. When all is said and done, our impact on the lives of other people and their influence on ours will be all that really matters.

Making new friends is not always easy and it can be scary to take that first step. But, according to this study, there is a large group of people out there just waiting for someone to initiate friendship. So just do it. Send an email, make a phone call, visit a new church, small group or Bible study. Ask someone out for coffee. Take a chance. That one step could be the beginning of a beautiful network of friends who will be there for each other through all the ups and downs of this thing called life.

Heather Ablondi is a women’s ministry speaker and author who lives in Fredericksburg. You can contact her through her website, heatherablondi.com.

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