You’re working on finding community, connecting with “your people” and forming authentic friendships, but it’s hard, awkward, and excruciating at times, isn’t it?
You don’t know where to start. Who to approach. Where to find these kindred spirits.
Once “prospective friends” are on the roster, opposition comes. You’re scared to invite them over. Worry they’ll turn you down. You’re afraid everyone’s too busy.
You wonder if these people will get along with those people if you host dinner.
Maybe you’ve moved past the initial fears of invitation, shared a few fun meals and evenings of camaraderie, but things have fizzled. You feel like a pest starting things up again and wonder if these people just aren’t into you.
Nehemiah Chapters 1- 8 has wisdom to offer. Nehemiah was a high official in the Persian court who was called to a great project. He was instrumental in rebuilding a wall and the city of Jerusalem that sat in ruins following the Babylonian exile.
In Chapter 1 Nehemiah hears of the destruction of his city and wept, mourned, fasted, prayed (day and night), praised God, reminded God of His covenant, “…hear me God”, confessed, prayed scripture, pleaded for the people of Jerusalem, and asked God for favor and success.
Have you been there? Facing sadness of the heart because you lack community? Shedding tears because it sits in ruins?
Nehemiah started his building project with prayer. As you journey toward community, press into prayer and ask God to establish what he desires in your life, that he’d usher in authentic friendships and community.
And God will.
But what I’ve learned from these chapters in Nehemiah — it’s wise to prepare yourself for resistance. Nehemiah faced opposition at every turn.
Here’s the deal. The bad dudes in the first six chapters of Nehemiah were unrelenting toward Nehemiah and the Jewish people who were rebuilding the wall.
When you’re building something good and meaningful, like friendship and community, there’s a strong chance you’ll face opposition. Whether it’s internal, external, or both.
The bad dudes? They taunted, opposed, mocked, and ridiculed the Jewish people. They plotted to attack and stir up trouble, sent four intimidating letters, hired men to intimidate Nehemiah, and sent an aide to deliver an intimidating invitation to Nehemiah. (References here: Nehemiah 2:10, 2:19, 4:1-3, 4:7-8, 6:3, 6:8, 6:10-13, 6:19.)
Even after the wall was rebuilt, the project finished, Tobiah sent letters to intimidate Nehemiah.
Taunts rise in the mind and heart while you’re longing for community and forming friendships.
- I hope they like me. Are we a good fit?
- Did they have a good time at the park with us?
- That was awkward. Thought we’d hit it off…but no. Back to square one.
When the bad dudes started mocking Nehemiah, he answered them, “The God of heaven will give us success.” (Nehemiah 2:20)
When fear cries, ‘This friendship thing is impossible…’ — repeatedly discredit the doubt with truth.
- God will give us success.
- I was made for community.
- God hear me. Erase these fears.
- There are people in this town waiting to know us, longing for friendship.
When the bad guys threatened to attack the Jewish people, Nehemiah placed guards at all the “exposed places” along the wall. Where or when are you most tender about building friendship?
Is it before an invitation goes out? Is it during a get-together? Is it after a gathering? Weekends? Weeknights? Children’s school events? At the book club? When do the doubts and fears overwhelm you?
What can you do to be proactive and protect those areas in your life?
Pray. Decide to build. Face opposition, doubt and fear. Replace doubt with truth. Pray. Keep building. Face mocking, taunting, intimidation. Pray. Keep at the good work. Repeat. Friendship comes one day at a time.
If there’s anything I can do to help you as you erase loneliness and seek to foster fellowship and friendship in your life — let me know in the comments below. Share your experience with the other Kitchen Fellowshipers here.