On Being Willing to Go First
Lauren Miller is a sunshine-addicted, Florida-transplant to Mississippi, coffee-lover, Noonday Ambassador, and book-nerd. Today on Flourish, she’s sharing about a subject that will hit home for many women struggling to find where they belong: making friends. While forming friendships often seems so easy when we are children, as adults it can become more difficult to develop the friendships that will help us thrive. Read on for Lauren’s thoughts on choosing intentionality and courage in our relationships.
Can I be completely honest with you? Friendship is hard for me. It didn’t used to be. At least, I don’t remember it feeling that way. But since I’ve been married and moved to a new-to-me state and town, I’ve found myself fumbling with the intentionality that it takes to really make friendships work. In my single days, I was placed in positions where I had no choice but to be intentional in my friendships and relationships. I lived for four years in Beijing, China, where I was part of teams that did life together on a daily basis. Those were ready-made friendships – for better or worse. When I moved back to the States, I taught elementary school and had roommates who shared life and shoes and jewelry and late-night snack attacks. You have to be intentional when you live with someone.
I am blessed to still have that intentionality with my husband; he truly is my best friend. Since we’ve been married, I’ve worked from home, initially as an administrative assistant for our church, and now as a writer, blogger and Noonday Ambassador. Being able to work from home after 10 years of teaching and 5am alarm clocks and Sunday evening lesson plans was, and still is, truly amazing! And yet, I found myself for the first time in my adult life without a real-life ‘team’ of other women to work with and do life with on a daily basis. I didn’t grow up and go to school in my new town, so I didn’t have the connections that seemed to come easily to other people. My work is mostly done on a computer in my living room with Spotify and my snoring dog for company. As an introvert, there are many days when that set-up is a slice of heaven. But I still crave connection – that one-on-one time with another girlfriend, popping into her classroom to chat during break, or catching up on life at Tuesday night small groups. Mostly (and because we’re being completely honest here), I’ve dealt with this by whining about how much I miss those connections. Yep. Because that always helps.
And now, after almost six years, I’m realizing that friendship really, truly takes intentionality. Phone calls, texts, Voxer messages to my girlfriends who live far away. Staying after church to chat with that one person. Scheduling a breakfast date with a friend. I have to work to do these things now. It hasn’t been easy, and I haven’t always done it well.
But then, I started reading a book that is slowly changing my perspective. And y’all, my perspective has needed changing, because it has been mostly focused on me and what I’m missing out on (#FOMO). In Lisa-Jo Baker’s new book, Never Unfriended, she writes, “The secret to finding and keeping lasting friendships is becoming women who want to see the women around them flourish.” She goes on to describe these flourishing friendships, characterized by a woman “who is a safe place for friendship, the woman who knows her own boundaries, the woman who is willing to go first, to be vulnerable, to offer guilt-free friendship.” THAT is the kind of woman I want to be.
Being a Noonday Collection Ambassador has slowly been shifting my perspective as well. The Noonday Ambassador manifesto describes the type of community and connection that we seek to build.
With all my heart, I want to be someone who helps other women see how they are connected and are part of a bigger story, someone who looks across the globe and doesn’t see a stranger – she sees herself – and realizes that her dreams matter as much as mine. I want to be a person who helps other women stand up, step into their story, and own their worth.
But first? I am learning that I have to stand up myself. Stand up and step out with intentionality into the friendships and relationships that God has blessed me with right where I am. I have to step into my own story, and own my worth – as a woman, a wife, a future adoptive mama…and as a friend. I have to be a woman who is willing to go first and be vulnerable in order to be a safe place for other women to find friendship.
Because my desire truly is to see the women around me flourish and bloom where they are planted…I have to be willing to go first.
Meet Lauren Miller
Lauren Miller is a sunshine-addicted, Florida transplant to Mississippi, a coffee-lover and a book-nerd. As a former teacher, she’s had the opportunity to teach both in the U.S. and in Asia, and loves experiencing different cultures. She and her husband have one dog, Piper, who they adopted from a shelter and who considers herself a lap dog at 40 pounds. Lauren and her husband are currently in the process of adopting (children, not canines) internationally as well. Noonday’s work in vulnerable communities around the world, as well as its roots in adoption, made it a perfect fit for Lauren, and she loves connecting women across the globe through stories and jewelry. You can find her on her blog, Balloons of Hope, where she writes about rest, connection and finding hope in everyday life.