Find your tribe of friends
Friend look around. Get off your iPhone and stop wasting time staring at a screen. If you’re in college, walk to the other side of campus. Hang out at the student center. Sit next to someone new in every class. If you’re at work or at your child’s school, ask people how they’re doing and genuinely listen.
No matter what stage of life you’re in, ask people questions and start a conversation. Just see where it leads. Everyone has a story. By engaging others in life, you’ll find the treasured friends who will make you a better version of yourself.
Next to Jesus, friends are the best gift you can give yourself.
Believe it or not, the friends I made in college over 25 years ago are still part of my life today. When life is hard, they are the ones I call for comfort and encouragement. When life is exciting, they are also the ones I call. When my book, Faithful Finance, was nationally published against all odds at the age of 43, they showed up to help me celebrate. Why? Because that’s what we do for one another. We celebrate victories and we sit with one another during difficulties.
After everyone else left my book launch party, the tribe and I laughed at the absurdity of anyone asking for my autograph. We ate dinner and drank wine and told old stories that may or may not have been exaggerated until late at night. It couldn’t have been a more perfect way to celebrate a major milestone in my life. Over the years, the tribe has walked many miles chatting and wondering what the future would hold.
Would we get married? Would we be successful? Would we find happiness? Where would we live? Would we have children? Would tragedy strike, and if so, when? Would we be able to handle what life would bring?
Marriage and Divorce
We’ve seen each other through breakups and dried each other’s tears. Everyone in the tribe kissed a few frogs before finding happily ever after. Eventually, there were engagement rings and weddings when we celebrated and danced until dawn. We wore bridesmaid’s dresses that we promised each other we could wear again some day. That was a lie and we all knew it. No one wears those dresses again. We laugh about it now.
No one story within the tribe is the same. One member has been divorced. She modeled for us how to come out on the other side of a very difficult situation, both better and stronger. She eventually found her happily ever after as well. She’s now married to her prince charming and an amazing mother of boy-girl twins. She showed us that divorce doesn’t have to define who you are as a person, or limit your future happiness.
Another member of our tribe was the first to become a mother. I remember my twenty-something self being in awe of the awesome responsibility of being a parent. I didn’t even feel equipped to take care of my own self at that time in life. I distinctly remember sitting on the floor of her bathroom while giving her baby boy a bath. I was terrified that I would drop that precious, slippery baby. He is now 6 feet 7 inches tall. She reassured me that babies are much more resilient than we think they are. Most importantly, she taught me that you can have a career and be a mother, but you have to find your own rhythm and pace.
One member of the tribe has battled depression. I feel very protective of her even though she doesn’t need me to do so. She impresses me now with her quiet confidence. I know how far she has come and how hard she worked to get healthy. She has built a life with her husband and children while having a career she loves. She has taught us all to listen to our inner self more, and the noise and expectations of the world less.
There were also struggles with infertility inside the tribe in our thirties. We waited for positive pregnancy test results that took longer than we had hoped. However, the waiting made the births all the more special. Members of the tribe, including myself, experienced unexpected health crises over the years and the stress of watching aging parents grow old before our eyes. We’ve also learned to be wives and mothers through on the job training. We’ve all come to the sobering realization that there is no dress rehearsal for life.
You might be wondering how we have stayed friends for so many years. The key to keeping the tribe together is to be intentional. We make time for one another. There are group texts and inside jokes. It’s not easy and often inconvenient to plan a girls’ weekend once a year. Every time we’re together we pick up where we left off. It’s as though no time has passed at all. The best part is we don’t have to retell our stories. We just know. And we accept one another as we are. Oh sure, we disagree on things, but that makes our conversations more interesting. We have different political views, different careers, and even different parenting styles. None of our differences matter because we have a mutual respect for one another. Our history and our stories bind us together. There really is comfort and peace in knowing that no matter what, our tribe will stand together.
Knowing Who Your People Are
My tribe is entering the second half of life. A lot will hopefully stay the same, but a lot will have to change. For example, children are going to graduate high school and leave the nest. This seems horribly frightening to me. I’m grateful to have friends a couple of steps ahead of me. They will pave the way for doing this well. I know they will encourage me and hold my hand when it’s my turn to launch my kids into the world. I pray that my kids will also find their own tribe of friends one day.
My encouragement to you today, no matter what stage of life you’re in, is to be a friend to others. The best way to have good friends is to be a friend someone else would want. Choose friends who can both celebrate your victories and dry your tears when a dream has been shattered. Taking the time to build lasting friendships is one of the best investments you can make in your life.
Please remember that the journey of building a tribe never has to end. You can build many tribes of friends over a lifetime. I now have other tribes of friends made up of mothers and fathers from my children’s schools. We are in the trenches together raising kids side by side. I also have friends from work, friends from church, and even precious neighbor friends who happen to live and do life with me on a daily basis. My life is so much richer for the friends I have made. I never want to be exclusive and think that my friend circle cannot enlarge. There is an old saying that says: Make New Friends But Keep the Old, One is Silver and the Other is Gold. I think there is a lot of truth in that old rhyme. Friends truly are a precious commodity. #FaithfulFinance