I love people, but I get exhausted and overwhelmed by social situations and my favorite activities are all things that can be done alone. To illustrate: once I realized my sick children would be well enough for me to deposit them at my sister's house for the weekend, I felt a teeny bit disappointed. Part of me had been secretly planning to use the (very real) excuse of sick kids to bail on the retreat. (Sorry Becky . . .it's not you, it's me.) But then I imagined dropping the kids off and coming back to pack and accidentally falling asleep for three days. After an intense week, the thought of the house all quiet, empty, and, well, quiet was almost more than I could pass up. This being my first retreat with this church, I felt like I wouldn't know that many people, and there would be way too much awkward small talk. But I was brave and made myself go, thinking that I could always hide under my bed if it really got to be too much. Ok, actually, my husband said, "Go." So I went, because sometimes he actually does know best what I need.
Do not repeat that.
Of course it was wonderful. Zero awkward small talk. Instead we enjoyed Zumba, a bounce house free of children, a pajama fashion contest hilarious beyond words, soul-sharing, martial arts, hot-tubbing, amazing small-group time, a speaker who's love of the Bible bubbled over all of us, and above all, God-blessed friendships. Even at my mature and grounded age (ha), I am still surprised that I can thoroughly enjoy myself in a social setting and manage to not act like a dweeb.
My point in all this is that you do have to say "yes" to friendships. They usually do not land in your lap, and if they do, you might want to reconsider because that could be a different "friendship" than you were expecting. Simply going to the retreat was not a guarantee that I would make new friends. I spent some of the free time napping and wandering around the grounds of the retreat center by myself, which was a great way for me to maintain my internal balance; also made me realize how easy it would be to isolate myself. I had to chose to be open and warm, and to vulnerably participate in and even (gulp) initiate conversations. Making and maintaining friendships requires action - action that requires your "yes." It doesn't have to be a big yes, like going on a retreat. Small yeses like going up to your neighbor and saying, "Wow, your yard sure looks great," present themselves every day.
days six and seven
This is the combined sixth and seventh post in the series 31 Days of Yes. Click here to see a list of all the posts.