The expression “Find your people” can rattle our insecurity and magnify our loneliness. We may look around and feel like everyone else has people, and wonder if we drew the short stick. May I offer you hope in the quest to find your people? Simple hope and an actionable idea.
A few weeks ago, I knew that a hard announcement was going to be made at church. And my husband was away teaching a course, so it would be myself and my boys left to process sadness for the afternoon.
For my little family, I anticipated a tough, lonely day.
So I messaged a friend.
Me: S.O.S. Need to do something with the boys Sunday after church. Got family plans?
Them: No plans.
Since they have an unpredictable dog, and I didn’t have time to prepare a buffet for ten people, we did the next best thing.
Them: Picnic and a hike?
Sound simple? You bet. And the entire script is not copyrighted, so use it freely.
Here’s my lifechanging formula for forming friendships:
SOME·ONE + SOME FOOD + SOME·WHERE = FINDING YOUR PEOPLE
Basic but profound. Nike makes millions from <<Just Do It>> so clearly simple works.
What does this look like for us?
step 1: someone
Find a person.
Are you willing to take a risk and simply ask?
If you are on Team Karen you can give zero notice for a spontaneous adventure. If you are on Team Marc (my hubby), you can schedule it weeks in advance.
Not sure who to ask?
There is so much truth here. Chances are you already know amazing people – but you may not realize they could be your people yet. One shared adventure may move you towards an important friendship.
At the very least, it will be one shared adventure.
This can be a stretch for many – myself included. It is easy to settle into introverted patterns. Leaving church right after service. Keeping to ourselves at school dropoff. Avoiding eye contact at soccer. Using earbuds at the gym.
Maybe we have been burned before. Maybe our souls are weary and we need something in our life to be easy.
But rewards like this are worth the risks:
How does this type of friendship begin? With a simple ask.
step 2: some food
This can be the biggest roadbloack to reaching out to new friends. What will I serve? How can I cut the sandwiches into butterfly shapes that match the homemade placemats? How many forks are too many?
Confession: I once made Kraft Dinner for a new friend. Not joking – the kind that comes in a box. With six kids between us, and a spontaneous invite, it was either KD or bust.
My friend Amber brilliantly defines hospitality here:
Powdered cheese on noodles as a first impression is about as vulnerable as it comes. And yet we are still friends twelve years later.
Feeling like everything has to be perfect is one of the main roadblocks to connecting with others. Love this idea of a young mom who hosted a Messy House Playdate where you were not allowed to clean before guests arrived. The results were profound.
Closeness can come over tea and toast. With crumbs still under the table from the day before.
For the recent after-church gathering, we had our meal catered. Meaning each family picked up a chicken dinner from the grocery store on the way to the park. Done.
step 3: somewhere
You’ve done the ask. You’ve gathered a snack or two. Now head to a place. A coffee shop. A trail. Or a quiet bench under that blossoming tree. Find a spot and simply be together.
Our Sunday adventure included unplugged children and teenagers all afternoon [happy sigh]. My mom-guilt-ometer decreased by the minute. You know – that gauge that reads high when our kids have had too much screen time or sugar.
Except I just realized I didn’t take a single picture all day. Welcome back, mom guilt.
All our people climbed, swung and spun. Faces forgot to frown as they traversed climbers and twirled brothers at break-neck speeds. And no bone was broken in the living of this active moment. Children ranging from 6 to 22 played grounders and it was as adorable as it sounds.
Especially when one of my boys had his eyes closed and was convinced he found his youngest brother. He touched his head, his sweet face, his hair…only to hear snickers. This kid, in fact, was the only person we did not know at the entire playground. Stranger danger.
With 8 boys between us (we added one bonus buddy), it was just fine that everyone’s underwear peeked out as they hung upside down. We considered renaming the boys by those labels.
“Calvin, Reebok, Puma and Tommy – lunch is served.” Rolls off the tongue, right?
We weren’t overly prepared, which I know would stress out the planners reading this. But here’s what we learned:
- With a bit of patience, plastic knives from Metro can carve chicken.
- If you don’t clean out your vehicle too often, chances are you will find sweatshirts and blankets for any chilly children.
- Grownups also need to twirl at the park.
- Life is better lived in community.
And I don’t mean to brag but we even hiked for eleven minutes, burning off at least one of the two-bite brownies.
My heart was full as we drove away that afternoon. Together, we had redeemed what could have been a hard, lonely day. We threw our goofiness together and created something beautiful. We followed the recipe.
the importance of finding your people
Have you found your people? A few close friends you can run to? You will know you have found them when you can cry on their shoulder and also spray pop out of your nose from hysterical laughter.
Crying and spraying. Both are essential.
It can be easier to find your people as Moms. Playing in sandboxes or pushing swings is like a pick up place for new Mom friends. It can also be trickier because you may not be able to finish sentences, so there’s that.
When it comes to friendships, there can be seasons of plenty and desert times. And I hope you won’t despair if you find yourself in a desert.
I have been blessed by so many quality friendships over the years (many are reading these words here – and I hope you know your abundant value). But since my husband is in full-time ministry we find ourselves in new communities more often than I would choose. So I know about starting over and feeling lonely in new places.
But don’t let the risk rob you of the reward. Keep asking. Keep trying. Do not give up. Your people are out there waiting to be found.
tips to find your people
Mom groups like MOPS and churches can be great places to start. So can kickboxing or yoga (so I’ve heard). Or mall walking and Starbucks. The possibilities are endless.
And if you are going through a hard season, resist the natural tendency to hide. That is the easy thing to do, right? Run from others and hide our broken selves.
But it is also the loneliest idea.
During a particularly bumpy patch last year, my husband and I knew we needed to connect with parents a bit further along in their journey. One particular family at church caught our eye. Their boys were a few years older and they were always laughing as a family. The five of them also sit really close and no one yells, “He’s breathing my air.” I needed to know their secret.
My not-awkward approach was this, “Hey. We need to be friends. Teach me the secret of your happy family. How you raised boys who enjoy each other or at least fake it brilliantly. Can we come over to your house next week if we bring all the food?”
Desperation, thy name is mom.
Lightly Frayed Parenting Tip: it is much easier to entertain your reluctant teenager(s) at someone else’s house, since there is no escape.
Because this family is the real deal, they said ‘yes.’ One year later, our boys are hanging upside down at the park together.
Soon after, my Mother’s Day picture was photobombed by this amazing bunch:
To avoid any confusion, all the pale and pasty kids belong to me and my hubby is the not-tipping man.
It is my sincere prayer for every reader that you find photobombing, park swinging, pop spraying friends. And the God who created us to live in community wants this for you as well. Invite Him into your sacred search and give the simple formula a test drive.
How have you found your people? I’m listening. And if you need a person but live far away, I’ve got you. Message me and we’ll do a virtual park date. I’ll bring the brownies.
May I share a bit more hope?