We all want to be loved.
Nobody wants to feel like their presence here on this planet is meaningless. Nobody wants to feel like they don’t matter, that they’re no good, or that nobody cares.
But sometimes that is true. When you’re in a crowd and nobody notices you, you feel invisible. When you’re next to a group of people chatting and laughing, and they don’t invite you in, you feel like an outsider. And when you feel all alone – and it shows in your face – and nobody asks you if you’re okay, you feel isolated.
I grew up painfully shy. It was like having an invisible wall of fear hemming me in, keeping me quiet, and making me feel inferior.
Most of the time, no one came to me first wanting to be my friend. I concluded that no one wanted to. And I was right, at least in a general sense.
Nobody wants to make the first move. Those who do are the boldest of extroverts. At best, they are the most socially conscious.
The reason for this is that we are all most concerned with ourselves. And we really can’t help it. We’re born selfish. From the time we’re babies, we demand that others meet our needs. It starts because we need help to survive. Later, we just do it because it’s in our nature to do so.
Reaching out to others is costly. What if the other person doesn’t like you? What if she doesn’t hear you say hello? And what if she laughs at your innocent question?
Sure, bad things can happen when you interact with others. But there’s no guarantee that they will. But since the threat of messiness is there, we stick with people like us who make us feel good, safe, and loved.
If you want friends then, don’t wait for that one person in 1,000 who will intentionally start a relationship with you. Take the relationship challenge by the horns and make the first move yourself.
Three things that have happened in my life to reinforce this truth to me.
First, I spent my whole school career waiting for others to make the first move. I can think of three people who did. And at least one of them was influenced by someone else (his parents) to do it. That doesn’t say much for the rest of us, does it?
Second, today at church my pastor was talking about community groups. He urged us to make the first move by visiting a group of our choice. And during what we call “the passing of the peace”, we were told to say hi to our neighbors in the seats nearby. Would it happen otherwise?
Third, most of us don’t even know the people who live on our street. Who knows? You might not like your neighbors. So to protect yourself, you stay inside your walls and keep life simple.
So if you want a friend, be one. Don’t wait for someone to invite you to lunch. Invite someone yourself. As a friend who invited me to lunch said, “I’ve found that if I don’t reach out to others in friendship, it doesn’t happen.”
Break down your own barriers. Get messy with people. After all, they’re not going to be perfect any more than you’re going to be perfect as long as you live on this planet. So take those relationship risks.
God can deal with other messy people as well as He can deal with you. Trust Him, and make the first move. He’ll be there with you to oil any troubled waters.