by Chrissy Peterson
"One with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24 CSB
I am an only child except for an older cousin that came to live with us for some time. I was a painfully shy child. I couldn’t even look a store cashier in the eyes. This extreme shyness lasted into my early adulthood. As a result, I had one best friend during each stage of my growing up. That was it. Of course, I had many acquaintances at school. I got along with all types of kids but none of them I trusted enough to let in. At the end of my senior year, I married my high school sweetheart and left for Germany to be with him, leaving all those acquaintances in the past.
Fast forward into adulthood. I had my first child at the age of 29 and then my second less than two years later (I purposely had them close together so they would have a built-in friend). Socialization of them became my top priority. I never wanted them to deal with the pain caused by shyness as I had. This meant daily MOPs meetings, library story times, playgroups, and/or Gymboree classes. Our schedule was full. I felt guilty if one day went by and my children hadn’t played with other kids.
When you have kids, especially if you’re a stay-at-home mom, your kid’s friend’s parents become your social network. I considered these moms my friends, but I knew deep down that if our kids were not in the picture those friendships would soon dissolve. When my kids became of pre-school age, I registered them at a great Christian school with the goal building better social skills. However, I couldn’t bear to be far away from them, so I got a job as a pre-school teacher. Can you say, “Helicopter Mom”. That helicopter is still flying now even at the ages of 17 and 18.
While chaperoning early elementary school field trips with my son, I met the dad of one of my son’s friends, Tommy. He seemed like a nice guy, and we would talk and hang out while our kids went from ride to ride. On one of these trips Tommy told me that he would be coaching a basketball team soon and asked if my son wanted to join the team. It was at these games that I met his wife Mo. She had a sunny outgoing personality. I liked her the minute I met her. It seemed like most people did. Tommy invited my son over to their house for extra practices because my husband worked out of town a lot and couldn’t practice with him. Of course, I said yes because in my mind the boys could spend precious social time together. Instead of just letting me drop him off, Mo insisted I come in to chat. It was at their home that I learned about all the ministry work that she did, and a bible study called Unforsaken Women that she held once a month. So, I went to the bible study and was amazed at how powerful it was. The announcer was hilarious, the worship music was great, and Mo was a powerful speaker. I soon started volunteering for projects that she led to help single moms. During these times our friendship grew despite the fact that we were complete opposites. She loved people, I loved avoiding people. She was positive, I was negative. One time someone said to me in not so many words- “So how did you and Mo become friends?”. I could tell she really wanted to say- “So what does Mo see in you?”. Regardless of our differences, it was a perfect fit. She had a vision and I liked to serve. I had found fulfillment and purpose.
Now almost ten years later, after serving side by side with her on countless projects, events, retreats bible studies and even weddings I can say that she is not my friend. She is my sister and Tommy is my brother. During these times my husband also became close with them too. We are not just friends; we do life together. Even more than that, through serving with Unforsaken Women I now have made many close friends. Sisters in Christ is not just a phrase to me, it’s a real thing.
If you are lacking friendship or fulfillment, find a ministry or church that allows you to serve others. Find a bible study where you can find women who are seeking to do the will of God and not just seeking after worldly things. Serving and being connected to the body of Christ is the way to meaningful and lasting friendships. On top of that serving God has caused me to push my boundaries. Now I like people (mostly), I’m more positive, and I even have moved into leadership roles. This is coming from a hardcore introvert who is no longer an only child.