My Journey to Building New Friendships

Friends are such an important aspect of a person’s life. They shape who you are, hold you accountable, and make memories with you. But, have you ever felt that your friends have moved on without you? I found myself feeling like this a few years ago. After getting married and moving to a different city, nearly all of my friendships grew apart, ended, or we just got less connected. Early in 2018 I found myself craving deep, real friendships with a group of girls. With my introverted personality, making new friends seemed impossible. I did not know how to start talking to new friends, how to build deep relationships, or how to find time in my busy schedule to grow those friendships.

picture by Alyssa Fisher Photography on my wedding day.

In June 2019, I began listening to ‘Girls Night’ podcast by Stephanie May Wilson. In the opening of the episodes, she introduced a new book she had written called The Real Girls Guide to Taking it All Off. It was a friendship guide. Similar to a bible study but created to build deeper friendships with other girls! Everything she was saying about this book was what I longed for in my life, but how was I going to do it? I really thought and prayed about how to get this started. In July, I finally got up the courage to text a group of girls that I knew and wanted to get closer with. Some were classmates, some went to church with me, and some were Cody’s friend’s girlfriends. Some I knew as acquaintances and others I really didn’t know at all. (like I didn’t even have their phone number.) I told them about the book and asked if they would be interested in starting it with me and most of them said yes.

I started a group with 8 girls in it and discussed a date for our first meeting. I used the Group Me app so it would be easier to welcome new friends into the group. Our first meeting was on a Friday night in August. I held it at my house with pizza and cookies for dinner. It was awkward at first. I hadn’t really held long conversations with any of these girls, much less been comfortable enough to invite them into my house. After dinner, we all fixed a cup of coffee and dove right into the book.

My sister, Kaylee, and I strolling through the Antique Village. Don’t be afraid to laugh and be goofy with your friends.

The first week was about friendships. We touched on past friendships, what we wanted in a friend, our best and worst friendships, and more. Hearing everyone’s stories, I realized that I was not alone in this friendship journey. Nearly everyone had a similar story. Every one of us had friendship baggage and, for most of us, our closest friends had gone their own way. We were all longing for something deeper. We agreed to meet every other Monday.

The book had 6 chapters, each one diving deeper into ourselves. We discussed our relationships, religious backgrounds, insecurities, families, and dreams. Each week was a more sensitive, secretive topic, which is strategically done to slowly bring down your walls and bring you all closer. Each time we met, we found ourselves talking and laughing more often (To the point that some chapters had to be split into 2 weeks). We took 4 months to complete a 6-week book and in the process, I made 5 sweet friendships.

Each week the book would start with an excerpt. We chose to take turns reading it out loud at the meeting. These excerpts were usually about 2 or 3 pages long. They would touch on the week’s topic, the author’s experience with that topic, and the mindset you should go into before fully diving in.

My work friends from back when I was a barista for PJs coffee.

After the excerpt, there would be a few questions asking you about your personal experiences with the topic. You can choose how you want to go about answering the questions, but we would have one person read the first question and answer it and then the girl next to her would answer. We continued this around the whole circle until everyone had given their answer. We would hold back any input or commenting until after everyone had given their answers. This way we actually got to everyone and the person speaking really felt like you were listening more than just trying to find a solution for their problem.

The reason this study brings you so close is because at the beginning you all vow to not share other peoples stories. What is talked about in the circle, stays in the circle. It creates an atmosphere of trust, which is necesary if you all don’t know eachother well. Another rule is that you don’t comment on someones answer until they are done speaking. Don’t interrupt them. Let them finish their thought, because you really don’t know how hard it is for them to answer that specific question and it lets them know that you are really listening to what they are saying.

Each one of these girls is completely different. Not all of the things we talked about were relatable either. Some of us are married, some in serious relationships, and others are single. Some of us come from split families, families with drug/alcohol issues, and some of us come from happy marriages. One thing that we all had in common was that we all have a love for Jesus. All of our religious backgrounds look different. All of us have a different relationship with Jesus, but because of Him we came together in a greater way. We talked about the times in our lives when our faith was strongest and cried together when we discussed the times that we were most angry with God.

After finishing the study, we began a new bible study which ended up welcoming 2 more girls into our group. While we began the study at the beginning of 2020, we had to carry alot of the meetings out via video call through the pandemic. Honestly, those little meetings brought so much peace and stability to my life in that time. If it weren’t for those tuesday night bible studies, my life would have been consumed by school work and house chores.

2 of my friends that I made through the Friendship study with my at my 23rd birthday party.

Now that it has been 2 years since the start of the friendship bible study, some things have changed. We don’t meet every week (or even every other week) like we used to. Life moves on, like it always has. Some girls got married, some had babies, and others got more demanding jobs or had to move for school. Just because the weekly bible studies ended doesn’t mean that the friendships did. The books helped you build the friendships, but to maintain them, you need to be intentional and pour into each other. Find time to hangout. Send a text if you haven’t spoken in a while. Just remind them that you love them and let it show through your actions.

If you related to this post, go ahead and step outside of your comfort zone and contact some friends (or girls you want to be friends with) and read this book. Even if you are not Christian, this book is for everyone. You will find deep, reliable friendships and learn how to trust complete strangers. I promise that you will not be strangers after the first meeting. You just have to be willing to let new people in and let your walls down.

Find the book on amazon or stephaniemaywilson.com. This book is a 10/10 read and it really does do exactly what it was written to do as long as you are intentional with the process.

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