Friendships – Awkwardly Awesome

When I think of friendships, I think of a word we’ve thrown around more and more in recent years in the church – community. And when I think of community, the book of Acts comes to mind. The early formation of the Church is such a great demonstration of the love, the care, the self sacrifice found in relationship between brothers and sisters in Christ. I mean the fact that the early believers shared everything in common, that they cared for each other, shared meals together, sold possessions and land for the common good – those things inspire me!

Now fast forward about 2000 years. Our culture teaches privacy, not sharing. We build fences around our backyards as high as possible so people can’t see in. We tend to sit as far away from others as possible so that we won’t have to engage people. We’ve introduced technologies that rid us of the need to even talk to one another. We’ve moved farther and farther from relationship towards isolation.

And please believe me when I say that I’m not throwing rocks at anyone here. I see these traits in myself, leading me to isolate myself rather than embrace the messiness of relationships. It seems safe and feels comfortable. It reduces the risk of rejection and lets me be selfish and lazy with my time. I’m an introvert. Now when I say that, I don’t mean that I’m shy. In fact, I’m not shy at all, but it does take work and energy for me to engage people. I gain energy and strength from solitude, not groups of people. I would not be the life of your party (but please invite me anyway)!

So does my personality, or fear of rejection, or any other reason validate my avoidance of relationship? I would say absolutely not! I would say that God created us to participate in relationship, and in friendship, with Himself and others. So here’s one tip for establishing new friendships, and I’ll ask for some of yours as well.

Embrace the awkwardness.

What do I mean by that? Well it’s a simple fact that many of us stammer and stutter and feel uncomfortable when we first encounter a new person. As I said earlier, I’m not shy so this isn’t a big deal for me. But sometimes when I meet a new person who’s shy to engage in conversation I ask questions to find out more about them. If they’re unwilling to really talk, then the questions begin to seem like an interrogation really quickly! Cue the awkwardness! 

I work with singles ministry at my church here in Chattanooga, TN. I tell them often to just embrace the awkwardness! If we are open to new friendships, genuine friendships that get below the surface level conversations that we engage in all the time, we have to. Pretty soon, we’ll begin to feel more comfortable, to understand who this person really is and what he/she is about. And in the context of relationship, the awkwardness will begin to fade. 

So there’s a tip for developing new friendships. Would you share a tip of yours to help your brothers and sisters as they seek to develop new friendships?


Ritchie Johnson
Director, Transform Student Ministries

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4 Responses

09.07.11

Awesome post! Those negative traits you described pretty much nailed me…I am an avoider of people! :)

Like you, I’m an introvert. I get socially overstimulated very quickly, and it really is “work” for me to strike up a conversation with someone I do not know well. But I agree with you in that it is still necessary and should not be something that I shy away from. How else are we to share the gospel if we never talk to people!

The only tip that comes to mind, is for those of you who are like me and become very anxious when meeting new people. Just pray. Realize that this is something you must do. Ask the Lord to give you a heart for others, and put another person before your own insecurities. Then take that awkward step of starting a conversation. :)

09.07.11

I agree Courtney. It brings to mind the Nike slogan, “Just do it!.”

09.07.11

Along with getting over the “awkward” and praying, I would have to say that might tip would for all of us to be intentional! So many of us are very busy, and unless our lives naturally flow with someone else’s, we don’t connect.

It feels like more and more today, I have to be very intentional about reaching out every week, scheduling phone calls and invites, to make sure that I don’t drop the ball in my frenzy of “to dos”.

Make the choice to reach out, commit to loving others, and be intentional about connecting!

09.07.11

Good point Kelly. In this “me” society, we’re all going to have to be very intentional to get back to an Acts mindframe in regards to how we treat others.

So another question for anyone reading, how are you being intentional about investing in relationship this week?

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