“My life is perfect” screams every post on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. “My life is full of adventures, laughter, and friends.” And then the rest of us sit at home wondering “Why isn’t my life like that? What is wrong with me?”
Social media has increased connectivity, but it has decreased our intimacy. We have more “friends” than ever, but we have very few in whom we can entrust our true selves. No wonder we feel unknown and lonely. Rejection happens frequently while intimate friendship occurs rarely in our society.
Social media encourages a world of perfection that ultimately leads us to magnifying our fears of failure: Failure in our achievements, failure in our workplace, and failure in our relationships. The longer we dwell on the pictures on Instagram, the more we find ourselves inadequate. We feel forgotten as we see our friends spending time with others. Was there a reason I wasn’t invited?
It’s time to stop wallowing in our loneliness and self-inflicted rejection. It’s time to knock down the lies trapping us inside our own prison of self-pity. It’s time to believe the truth, live boldly, and experience true friendship!
Let’s start by confronting some myths you might already unknowingly believe:
Myth 1: People don’t value me or my friendship. Whenever I invite people places, they can’t hang out. Whenever I text people, they don’t text back.
When we invite someone somewhere and they are unable to come, it’s easy to perceive their rejection of our invitation as a rejection of us. However, if a friend isn’t able to get together with you, it may just be a sign that they are in a busy season of life. Rather than keep initiating with them only to be turned town, it’s important for you to find another, new friend who can be there for you during this time. Otherwise, you will continue to feel rejected and unwanted. For example, I have friends who teach as a profession. Summertime is a FANTASTIC time to catch up with them. But if I try to get together with them during the school year, I can feel disheartened and rejected due to slow responses and even cancelled get-togethers. Likewise, if a friend tries to plan anything with me during tax season, chances are that I will have such a heavy workload, I won’t be able to pull away for her. Remember, unavailability is not an indicator of the quality of our friendship; it is a confirmation of the season we are in.
Myth 2: People who are in relationships or who are married are not lonely.
On the contrary, people who are in relationships or who are married can feel just as isolated as a single person can. Differing schedules can result in nights spent at home alone. Relational disconnect and tension in romantic relationships can also result in loneliness. Finding a boyfriend or husband is not a solution to loneliness. Don’t become jealous of other people’s relationships, because you don’t know what happens behind closed doors. Everyone has problems; they just aren’t always publicized on social media.
Myth 3: My friend-group keeps changing; something is wrong with me.
Not all relationships are meant to remain. Sometimes God places people in our lives for seasons and removes them so we can grow in another area. God designed all nature to experience seasons: to begin, to grow, to flourish, to die, to restart. Often we can find ourselves focusing on the friendships that were rather than the friendships that are. God places new people in our lives continually, which reveals His desire for us to expand our network of people. How else will His kingdom grow if we remain where we are? God desires for us to take advantage of where He has placed us at this moment.
Friendships can become dysfunctional, unhealthy, or simply just disagreeable. Just because two friends are Christians, does not mean they are supposed to be best friends for life. In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas begin planning a road trip to visit cities where they had already ministered. In the midst of their travel planning, Barnabas becomes adamant that their friend Mark should join them on their journey, but Paul strongly hesitates since Mark left them on one of their earlier trips. Ultimately, Barnabas and Paul’s disagreement resulted in them taking separate ways.
They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. – Acts 15:39-41
While there was a loss of friendship, God used it to multiply the impact on the kingdom. Rather than only impacting one city, they were able to impact Cyprus, Syria, and Cilicia. Rather than mentoring one man, Barnabas and Saul were able to impact two men.