We often get to a point in life where there doesn't seem to be a convenient community to fall into. Our circumstances are lacking a built-in group of people that can give godly guidance, share our hopes and dreams, and walk through life together. Through living what lives we have lived, most of us realize that choosing the people we want to invest in us (and vice versa) is crucial in our walk with Jesus.
Usually, this season of life happens after high school or college, when we venture out on our own, in some shape or form. This might have even come sooner for you than you expected. We decide we want to—and are a little pushed to—actively seeking meaningful relationships and friendships, not ones that just happen to be there, if that's what we choose.
But how do we do this? We are all so different. It might come more naturally to some people, to put themselves out there. And for others, we really have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone to make those intentional connections. Either way, it takes consistent effort and can very well feel like one of the most lonely times in our lives. We were created for community, and if nothing else, God could be using this season to show you the most important friendship that you will ever have is with Him.
Let's get practical for a bit. I want to share with you four steps that will each take you a steep deeper in forming meaningful connections.
As Christians, God wants us to go to church not only to learn more about Him, but because it is a place where we can be in community with other like-minded people. When getting connected in a church, it is important that there are other people your age, which will help cultivate your community.
Small Groups/Community Groups
Meeting in smaller groups for a Bible study or hangout session allows you to meet people in a more intimate setting. Most churches have different groups for us to join, creating a place to share more personal things in a safe place, allowing deeper connections.
Serving in the church can help build friendships and it is a great way to meet people who like to help others in the same way you do.
It is important to not only to seek guidance from others your age, but from others who have lived more life than you. Having a mentor or someone you meet regularly with who can give you a different perspective is extremely helpful when navigating life.
Church is not the only place that you can seek out meaningful friendships. We are called to love everyone and help make disciples, so it is important to expand our circle to make those connections. But something to hold onto is that the atmosphere in which you seek friends or community will influence who your community ends up being. As Christ followers, we believe that it is important to not only surround your inner-circle with like-minded people whose lives are ones in pursuit of Jesus. Proverbs 27:17 says, “It takes a grinding wheel to sharpen a blade, and so one person sharpens the character of another.”
While you are pursuing meaningful connections—or as you are waiting for them to develop—you have probably realized they can take effort, be uncomfortable, and take time. But, as we go through different stages of praying and actively seeking out community, what can we do in the waiting? How can God help us in this lonely season? Maybe we should shift our questions to: What could God be showing me this season? For me personally, and what I think He uses these seasons for, is to have a more intimate relationship with Him.
As a personal example, I had been praying recently that I would experience a more intimate relationship with Christ. I wasn't totally sure what that would look like or even what I was asking. There finally came one week where all my close friends were traveling, and the family that I was staying with was gone. I felt like I had lost some meaningful connections for the time being and spent a lot of time alone (even though I have the tendency to enjoy time alone). I just felt lonely. My self-deprecating view on my loneliness began to change as I was reading a devotional one morning, and it just clicked: I am never alone and never will be because God is always with me. Even if I felt the loss of meaningful connections, I was still connected to the most meaningful friend that I have ever had and ever will have… Jesus.
For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends. You show that you are my intimate friends when you obey all that I command you. I have never called you ‘servants,’ because a master doesn’t confide in his servants, and servants don’t always understand what the master is doing. But I call you my most intimate friends, for I reveal to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father.
To sum things up, meaningful connections take time and effort, but they are worth it because of their impact on our lives. Ultimately, friendships cannot fulfill certain longings for intimacy that our souls have. Only Jesus is able to do that. And that's the beauty of it: the intimacy that can only be found in our relationship with Christ is the most meaningful connection in the world.
Questions to ask when seeking meaningful connections
Are they leading me closer to God?
Do they bring out the best in me?
What is their lifestyle? Do I want my life to look similar to that?
Do they have other healthy relationships?
What are their priorities?
Are they helping me grow?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Moriah is an English Major at Nyack College. Ever since she was young, she has had a passion to create, whether that be through writing a story, painting, or decorating her room. God has given her a desire to share how He has changed her life and she is excited to take you along on her journey.