Too Scared to Make Friends
Q. I have a problem making friends because I'm very shy. I can't open up to others. Sometimes I don't think God wants me to make friends because they might influence me in a bad way. But down deep inside, I know that's not true. Everybody needs friends, right? I really need tips on how I can make friends without barfing all over them because I'm so shy.
A. You are not alone. My wife, Cathy, is also an introvert. But she's been able to build very deep friendships—without barfing on anyone. Whatever your personality, friendships are possible and very much needed. God places a high priority on friendships. He is not keeping you from relationships. And, I know God will give you the strength to step out of your comfort zone and benefit from the results.
How do you make friends? First, try not to overthink it. Say hello to someone, sit next to a person you don't know at lunch, talk about what you like with someone. Now, those things can seem daunting to a shy person. However, have you ever heard that saying about how some wild animals are as scared of us as we are of them? Well, that goes for other people, too. We often worry too much about what someone thinks of us. But you know what? They are usually just as worried about what you think of them.
Second, don't feel like you need to open up immediately. A person doesn't have to go from stranger to lifelong friend in three days. Time spent with each other brings more and more trust.
Third, look for the right kind of friend. For starters, look for someone with com-mon interests. Look around at youth group or art club or in line for tickets to see your favorite band. Look for friends who will build you up and not tear you down. Look for, as the Bible says, a "friend who is closer than a brother."
Fourth, focus on becoming a true friend. A true friend is:
- Caring and available—there is nothing more important than the gift of your time and genuine concern.
- Encouraging—everyone needs a loyal cheerleader and a pat on the back.
- Willing to sacrifice—a true friend walks the extra mile.
- A good listener—listening is the language of love.
- Truthful—friends tell the truth in love—even if it hurts.
- Loyal—as the Bible says: "A friend is always loyal" (Proverbs 17:17, NLT).
Jim is an author, longtime youth worker and founder of HomeWord, a group seeking to honor God through strong families.
Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today/Ignite Your Faith magazine.
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