Concerning Change | Part 3

Change can be beautiful. Strange, right? I often think of change as a negative thing. I like staying within the safety of my comfort zone and squirm at the thought of making new friends. Starting over proves exhausting, and creating new friendships can be awkward. You both feel a little out of place and apprehensive as you piece together a one-dimensional first impression. But beauty lies in all of it.

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The past few weeks, I’ve met new acquaintances, reunited with old ones, made a new friend, and learned some things as I’ve navigated the rocky road of adult friendships. Today, I want to share some of those with you.

  1. Don’t rely on first impressions.

I have fallen into this trap on more than one occasion. I find the girl that strikes me as confident, personable … and dare I say it, popular! This girl makes a stellar first impression, and I want to get to know her. However, I have found that I rarely become good friends with that girl.

Popular, confident girls that give a great impression are worth knowing and many of them are genuine. I am simply saying that first impressions are flimsy and you may find that the quiet, awkward girl becomes your real friend faster than the confident girl. You can never accurately guess which way it will go! So be kind to everyone, and rule out first impressions.

  1. Awkward first chats are so worth it!

AGH! Do you ever find yourself having that first conversation and feeling out of place? It’s strange to grow a real friendship in awkward, disjointed patches of conversation. Don’t shy away from the hard work and the discomfort of getting to know someone. You can’t completely avoid awkwardness. Embrace it, push through it, and get to know that person! Awkward chats don’t last forever.

  1. Ask but also share.

In our effort to ask questions and get to know someone, we often forget to share about ourselves. A friendship is a two-way street. You have to let the other person in your door. I’m not saying share your deepest secrets, but share about your life! You’ll never have real friends if you don’t.

  1. Real friendships take time … and effort.

DUH! Everyone knows this! But knowing is much easier than doing. Real friendships are hard, hard, hard. They don’t come when you snap your fingers or wish upon a star. You have to do the work and consistently choose to invest in another person. Pursue friendships no matter how long it takes. It is worth the time and energy, even if you only make one new friend.

  1. Learn to trust.

If you trust no one, you’ll be miserable. As an adult, you’ve probably been betrayed by more than one person in your life. You have the scars to prove it. Five years later, you might still feel the pain, but you can’t let that stop you. Choose your friends wisely, and then choose to trust them.

The truest friendships go beneath the thick layers of the heart and say “I’m staying anyway.” You will never know the beauty of this until you let go, embrace risk, and learn to trust. Be someone who can be trusted, and in turn, learn how to trust.

As you navigate the daunting world of change, don’t forget to “put yourself out there” and make friends. People are the beautiful things in life. Developing solid, enjoyable friendships turn new places into home.

In Christ,

Sierra Straightforward

Have other tips? Share them with me in the comment section below!

 

Concerning Change | Part 2

Last week, I shared about our recent move back into Christian camp ministry. This week, let me tell you something else.

I am NOT a flexible person! I cannot do a somersault. My body refuses to move that way. Growing up, my friends would try and try to teach me, but I just couldn’t bring myself to put my legs over my head.

I don’t only struggle with physical flexibility but also with being flexible in daily life. I like days full of routine and weeks that repeat themselves. I like to know what to expect each day.

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However, when you and your husband move to a new county, delve back into camp work, settle into a new house, and begin new work areas all in the space of a month … nothing feels the same, and your capacity to adapt is tested.

You can’t stop change, but you can improve your “elasticity.” Having undergone some major life transitions, I can attest that my ability to adapt and do a “life somersault” has grown. I admit that during this last stretching period I still found myself in a fetal position for at least two days before choosing to rise and embrace the inevitable ups and downs that come with learning something new!

I want to share some important lessons I’ve learned from this experience.

1. Never make a decision based on an emotional five minutes!

Emotions make powerful convincers. Don’t freak out and run from something because it doesn’t fit the initial image you envisioned. Avoid making decisions based on those first five minutes and the avalanche of emotions that barrel down with them. Change happens in a moment, but adjustments take time.

2. Find time to process.

It may take a few days, but process all that happens to you. As you do this, your heart rates slows and you can let go of some of the harder aspects of the transition.

3. New beginnings always produce discomfort.

We look forward to things that excite us with a sense of being grounded and experienced. Change never starts that way! New beginnings can lead to confusion and discomfort, but you need the beginning to reach the wonderful middle you’ve waited for. Appreciate those first steps and accept its discomforts.

4. Ask questions, and be confident!

Never hesitate to ask questions and do so with confidence. Embrace your new work area, neighborhood, or community. Understand that you’re inexperienced and you will have questions. Contrary to popular belief, you can be confident and still ask questions.

5. Make new things special.

When you get to a new place or a job, everything is different. You experience things for the first time. Nothing holds special significance. I have found that picking a tree I see every day or taking a daily prayer walk helps me to connect to this new environment. Every time I see that tree or take that walk, I start to view this place as home.

Find those things as soon as possible, and you will be amazed at how quickly you begin to see this new world as your home!

Sometimes following these tips won’t come easily, but the outcome will be worth the effort. I can truly say that they do help! I’ve lived here less than two months and have already found myself enjoying my new home and making memories in a place that initially caused a lot of uncomfortable havoc! Discomfort is not a bad thing when you undergo transition, just keep on taking the step and live the moment in front of you in the best way you know how!

In Christ,

Sierra Straightforward

 

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