When my friend Amy told me about her impromptu Fourth of July party, I didn’t want her news to be a punch in the gut. Her gathering had been last-minute: four families my husband and I had recently befriended had celebrated with a casual barbecue.
Not knowing our schedule as well as they knew each other’s, they simply assumed we had plans.
But we hadn’t; my little family had spent the Fourth thoroughly miserable. I was so overwhelmed with parenting I’d forgotten the holiday. When it arrived, I felt lame to have no party to attend. I’d spent the day terribly depressed.
After telling me about her weekend, Amy smiled. “So how did you guys celebrate?”
I was so raw with loneliness I started crying.
She was startled, and genuinely sorry when I explained my tears. “Oh, Heather,” she said. “I had no idea. You should have called.”
I thanked her, but inside I felt ashamed. Surely my loneliness meant I was messing up somehow.
Ten years later, I happened across a New York Times essay about how—and why—it’s hard to make friends after age 30. Reading the piece, I felt a deep relief. Because though in many ways my social circle has grown more satisfying, I still sometimes feel ‘friendship FOMO’—sure that everyone but me has the kind of community I want.
Back when my kids were born, I assumed my church would magically solve the making-friends problem, especially because I’m deeply rooted in mine. I’ve been in the same fellowship since 7th grade, I’m involved in ministry and a small group, and my kids are active participants in children’s programs. If anyone should feel “plugged in,” it’s me.
But I’ve since realized that my assumptions about friendship were naive. Church can help form community, but it’s no panacea. Not only that, FOMO is all about comparison: any time I compare myself bitterly with others, I come up short.
Here are some insights about community that help me shut down friendship FOMO before it starts…
I was over at iBeleive last week, sharing about how I’ve stopped comparing my friendships to others’–and found freedom from shame. Won’t you join me there?