1/13/15

I dare you to make friends



I was sitting in a comfy brown chair with a computer on my lap at a cozy Starbucks in town. Sipping a non-fat latte while working on church stuff. Texting a volunteer who is having a rough week. Replying to an email from someone who needs the packing list for winter camp. Trying to find the perfect illustration for a youth talk that weekend. Multi-tasking. It’s youth ministry. A hundred things needing to be done all at once. I had retreated to Starbucks for some caffeine and time away from the distractions of a church office. I was getting a lot done until I got distracted by some serious friend envy.

Near me was a group of women. They were laughing. Talking. Drinking coffee. Having girl time. I didn't know if they were stay at home moms meeting for coffee after they made it through the tyranny that is school morning drop off. Getting kids to school in the morning is not for wimps by the way. Or maybe they were a women’s bible study group? I didn’t see any Beth Moore workbooks, so probably not. Maybe a book club? I was not sure who they are or why they've gathered. All I know is that they were at Starbucks with people. And I was at Starbucks alone. I wanted to be them. To be at a table laughing, talking, and sharing real life with other women. I envied them.

My days were packed and my friend list was short. I barely had time in my life to shower and be present for my husband and three kids.  Most of my time outside of family life was spent with youth staff, interns, youth volunteers, and students.  I had little time to find and nurture adult friendships with other women. I am a sucky long distance friend, so any real friendship needed to be within a ten mile radius. I prayed. I longed to be at a Starbucks with actual friends and not just for work stuff. Not just to meet with a student or to interview a volunteer. I asked God for “Starbucks” friends.

My life and my soul needed friends with no strings attached. Friends who understand the joys of figuring out a sweet game for Wednesday night youth group. Friends I can text when I am driving to a hospital to visit a teen who is probably not going to make it through the night or facing a difficult conversation with a volunteer. Friends who know what I am facing, because it’s what they face in youth ministry too. Friends who bring Starbucks to my doorstep when youth ministry gets tough or when there is a Sunday that seems to never end. Friends who won't and can't fire me and are not impressed or bothered by how many speaking gigs I do or don't have lined up.

God gave me the youth ministry friends I was longing for. Because I was involved in a local area network of youth pastors, I met other women who do what I do. Other women in youth ministry do in fact exist. Through the beauty of proximity...we became friends. Real Friends.

Friends I can text this to...

"I am driving to your house right now with tears streaming down my face because sh*t just happened and it was terrible.”

You can use bad language, because they are REAL friends. They don’t judge. They won’t tell on you.


They reply...
      
    
                                                     




They are women in youth ministry. They like Starbucks. They are my friends. Oh...and they so get me! But here is the secret.... if I didn’t make an effort to go to an event, or a network meeting, or to seek them out at a conference...we wouldn’t have become friends. Not friends in real life. It takes some kicking your butt and DARING to get out of your introverted comfort zone. No hiding behind an overly packed youth calendar with lame “I don’t have time” excuses. It takes prayer. It takes guts. It takes initiative for REAL life ministry friendships to happen. It takes a dare.

That’s why I need the Youth Cartel’s Women in Youth Ministry Campference.

I need to carve out time. I need to find space. I need a room full of potential real life friends. And guess what? My friends will be there. The ones I prayed to find on that lonely Starbucks day where “friend envy” struck. We now have space and time to circle up together and just BE. And time to find and meet other women who get us too.



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