A little over two years ago, I packed up as many of my belongings as I could fit into my Honda CR-V, including my 3-year-old cat, and moved halfway across the country. My new home was 19 hours away from my hometown in Virginia, and more than 1,200 miles from friends and family. If it sounds scary to move this far away from home, I can assure you, it was! But the scariest thing about this transition wasn’t starting a new job or even finding my way around a new city. It was the moment that first night when I laid my head on my pillow and realized I was absolutely alone. I remember asking myself, how long will it take for you to find your people?
To be honest, I’m no stranger to the feeling of loneliness. Authentic relationships were always a challenge for me, even before this big life transition. Growing up, deep friendships felt impossible to find and cultivate, and it didn’t seem like anyone else around me struggled in this area as much as I did. Even after I began to follow Christ, relationships didn’t get any easier. I began to notice a trend in my life that friends just didn’t stick around.
For years I believed the lie that something had to be wrong with me, which led to a very dark place emotionally. It wasn’t just that I felt lonely; I also felt abandoned. Neglected. Forgotten. I began to doubt if God even cared about me because it seemed like nobody else did. One prayer echoed in my heart throughout those years: God, will this be the year I’ll find my people?
The more time I spent wrestling with my dark thoughts, and the more I weighed them against God’s truth, the more He spoke to my heart. One Scripture I discovered was James 1:17 NLT: Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father …
This verse made me wonder what gifts I could be missing out on because of my fear of rejection. Could the people around me actually be the people I was praying for? I knew that my habit of holding people at arm’s length was really only hurting me. My attempt to protect my heart from forming deep connections with people was what created this loneliness—it wasn’t God’s doing. I knew that the only way to fight against the lonely feelings was simply to be relentless in trying to find my people despite all my fears.
I can tell you from experience that there’s really no perfect formula for finding your people, and the journey may even take longer than you have in mind. For me, it took many years of trial and error. But the good news is that there’s a God who walks with us on every step of the journey. We can trust He’ll lead us straight toward the good and perfect gifts that He has for us.
Trust me when I say, this is the year you can find your people! Here’s how:
1. Pray for your people. One of my favorite names of God is “El Roi,” which is found in Genesis 16. It means, “The God who sees me.” Our God not only hears our prayers but also sees us, too. We can trust that when we pray to find our people, God listens. He sees us in our loneliness and draws near. What kind of people are you looking for? Pray for them and trust that God will answer in His perfect way.
2. Slow down and be patient. Let relationships form on their own! Sometimes we can try to force friendships to blossom more quickly than they’re ready to. Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT reminds us that “God has made everything beautiful for its own time.” In the moments when you want to run ahead, simply remind yourself that you’ve got time. We can’t rush what God is doing; we have to choose to trust His timing!
3. Open up and be vulnerable. Believe me, I know this is hard. But we can start by simply challenging ourselves to share something personal with one person every day. Start with something small, and watch as people begin to connect with you on deeper levels. The more comfortable we can be with vulnerability, the more real and authentic our relationships will become!
It took me a lot of trial and error to finally settle into a season where I felt like I had people in my corner in this new city. But as I was praying for my people, God opened my eyes wider, and I began to notice the people around me. I started to recognize the people I interacted with at church and in my apartment complex who were also new to the area. I made a mental list of who I wanted to get to know better, started a LifeGroup, and invited them. It soon became very clear that these ladies were on the same journey right beside me.
This is the year you can find your people, but it’s going to take sowing seeds for deep and meaningful friendships to grow. It’ll feel uncomfortable to be vulnerable with people you barely know, and you might feel frustrated as you wait for them to reciprocate. But as you let your roots sink down deep, you’ll be able to soak in all of the nutrients that will help you to flourish in this season. There’s joy in letting friendships bloom on their own. We don’t know how the petals will unfold in the end. But what do we know? God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. And just as God proved faithful to help me find my people—I believe He’ll be faithful to do the same for you this year, too.