Connecting with Communities, New & Old

About a month and a half ago, my wife and I packed up all of our possessions and moved from Northern California to Hurst, Texas. We left behind everything that we knew for a city that we had only been to once. We knew that moving so far away after recently getting married would be difficult, but we ultimately did it because we were so excited about the opportunities that moving to Texas offered us. So far I have really enjoyed Texas and I am excited about what my future here holds, but that’s not to say that my time here hasn’t been without its difficulties.

Before moving, I would have thought that the most difficult things about relocating to Texas would be starting a new job and acclimating to the weather.  While those things haven’t necessarily been easy, they have not been the toughest part. The most challenging part about moving has been leaving my family, friends and community behind and having to develop new relationships here. As an introvert, starting new friendships does not come naturally to me. I need to be intentional about seeking people out and that is not always easy to do. Along with that came a feeling of isolation from my friends in California as I am no longer able to hang out with them. I felt like I was missing out on all the things that they were doing. Early on, the seclusion from my previous friends, together with my lack of new friends here, was making me lonely as I felt like I had no one to talk to or hang out with. It was at this point that God reminded me about the importance of friendship and finding a community. During my devotion time one morning, I read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 which says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” These verses make clear the importance for having people alongside us, helping us through difficult circumstances in life. After reading those verses I realized I was missing community in my life and became determined to connect with others quickly.

First, I decided that I would start trying to make more of an effort to stay connected with my California friends. I realized that just because I moved halfway across the country it didn’t mean that I could not stay connected to them. In fact, it is easier to do so in today’s day and age than it has ever been before. Since then, I have been deliberate about setting aside time in my day to text, call or Facetime one of them and see how they are doing. This has allowed me to feel like I am still connected to them and has allowed them to remain an active part of my life.

Next, I became committed to growing relationships with the people around me. I realized that no matter how close I remained with my California friends it couldn’t be a substitute for making new friends in Texas. If I was going to thrive here I would have to develop a new community of people to live life alongside. I set four goals for myself that I can use to develop new friendships. I think these goals are important for anyone looking to develop new relationships with others.

  1. Be vulnerable. If I never attempted to talk to new people or ask them to meet up to hang out, then it is unlikely that I will ever develop lasting friendships. Without some level of vulnerability, new relationships cannot be built.
  2. Be authentic. It is easy to try to pretend to be someone that I am not in order to try to please others. Ultimately though this would leave me feeling just as lonely as before because they would not like me for who I really am. Instead, I try to be as genuine as possible when getting to know others. I am comfortable in the person that God has made me to be.
  3. Seek out people that will encourage you to grow. Proverbs 27:17 says “As Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” I do not know about you but I want to surround myself with people that challenge me to grow, whether that’s relationally, emotionally, or spiritually.
  4. Set aside specific time to meet new people. For instance, I try to meet a new person sitting around me during church service every week. If humans are not intentional about spending time with others, then they will fill in the time with something else.

These rules do not guarantee that I will be successful in making friends but I believe that they are helpful guidelines that open the door for healthy relationships to be able to start.

 

 

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