About the Author

Annie F. Downs is a bestselling author and nationally known speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her most recent books include 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely and Let’s All Be Brave. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her at @anniefdowns.

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    • I agree! Forcing yourself to say “yes,” even when its much easier to say no, is key when you are in a new place and forming new relationships. We never know what friendship will blossom out of a simple yes!

  1. I am a missionary in West Africa who has been BACK on the field now for three weeks. I just wanted to thank you for this post because it hit me today right between the eyes. This is what the Father is speaking to my heart. I live in an awesome community of expat believers who love the Lord and endure much. But God is speaking to my heart to get outside of my comfort zone and find friends where I least expect them. To look for the woman who is lonely. To seek out that African Christian who needs some encouragement. I pray that today God would give me his eyes to see the friendships he has waiting for me.

  2. LOVE this!! I may suck at a lot of stuff, but I am a good friend πŸ˜‰ so I’m excited to share. I have ‘collected’ friends from all times of my life, so I’ve met friends through school, university, church, work, prayer meetings, home groups, neighbours, roommates, you name it, that I’m still friends with now. I would encourage women with this – ‘if you want to have a friend, be one.’ That was a sampler hanging on my best friend’s wall when we were 7 (she’s still my friend) and I never forgot it. What would you want another woman to do for you? Listen when you talk and cry, be non-judgmental, laugh with you, help you when you need help, be silly with you, spend time with you, pray with you.. what? Then, look for the chance to share yourself naturally in these ways with other women who you’click’ with. And as Annie says about saying ‘yes,’ saying yes will put you in the position to be around people you might click with. Also, and I think is most important.. LIKE PEOPLE. Just genuinely like and enjoy them. I promise, if you like people you will make friends πŸ™‚

  3. This is great, thanks! I also like the comment by Agnes. Another thing that helps make friends is to be hospitable, invite someone over for a cup of coffee/tea in YOUR OWN HOME, not in a restaurant or coffee shop! It doesn’t have to be fancy though if you do have nice china, use it, but your warm heart and welcome will make you a friend.
    And LISTEN, be interested!

    • jenny, i love “in your own home”. i grew up in a different country & culture and have been often saddened at people’s reluctance to open their front door instead of “meet you at…”, i think it is a little scary to let people see our “insides” but at the same time it leads to a greater intimacy in community which is what we crave!

  4. I Prayed for Friends.
    Living in an Area After Moving for Work & Marriage.
    There Came a Time After Awhile.
    When I Turned to God & Prayed.
    He Answered my Prayer Beautifully.
    Thru a Church Family. Christian FaceBook. Volunteering.
    And. Reaching Out to Others.
    A Beautiful AnSwer to Prayers.
    “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”
    ~ Colossians 4:2
    +

  5. Wow! I’ve always said that no was the hardest thing for me to say, but now I’m seeing yes is pretty difficult as well. I can’t say no to doing things *for other people, but saying yes to doing *with is pretty hard as well.

  6. annie, i love the part about a group you roll your eyes at…lol, it’s so true! also true with people you roll your eyes at…getting past that and getting to know them has often led to great god moments and even great relationships.
    and thank you for mentioning the internet as a positive in building relationships, it really can be!

  7. I really needed to hear this today. It’s super hard to make/find friends in a new city. I’ve been in Knoxville for a year now and it’s still a work in process. Thanks for the “be brave” reminder. πŸ™‚

  8. For the homebound having friends online is nice and it helps; yet, it is not like having someone with flesh and bone to hug you. The physical touch is a common need of the human race that God gave as a gift. It has been proven repeatedly the importance of the human touch for people to thrive. I had read of a nurse that worked in a nursing home, she told of how she would see the elderly that had lived alone come in and thrive in the nursing home when they could not at home. The only thing that would change for these people were the volunteers who sat with them held their hands, listened, and talked with them. Some of the elder who would get better; would do something drastic things to keep them in the nursing home once they found out they would be sent home. The Internet is not a replacement for God’s command to take care of the needs of the shut-in or homebound.

  9. Loved this post!! I have struggled with this a good bit. I do have problems just being brave and showing up at events and things when I do not know anyone. I am not a natural “talker” or crowd cruiser so it is hard. This is really the word of encouragement I needed to hear. Thank you Annie!

  10. A little while ago, I was totally friendless. I would cry in my husband’s arms, asking him why I was so unlovable. What is wrong with me? I would pray to God. Then I started praying. Praying for God to put godly women into my life, women that loved me and that would just be my friend. It didn’t happen right away. But slowly, God has been bringing women into my life….friends! SO many friends! He cares. He really does. We were not meant to do this alone, and you are NOT unlovable or unworthy of this. Just ask Him in faith to bring these godly women into your life. And yes, BE BRAVE. BE VERY BRAVE!!!

    • THANK YOU for sharing this Marybeth! I am right there in those lonely trenches, thinking I must be some kind of ogre because I just have not made one friend in the two years since we’ve moved here. It’s so encouraging to see that it does get better. πŸ™‚

  11. Annie, thank you for this, and very timely. I am moving from my home in Florida (where I have lived since I was 3 – sshh! I’m 52) to San Diego, CA if just over a month. I know only 1 person there, my daughter. I am leaving my mom & dad, family, friends, my job, my church and a lot of history. I am excited and terrified all at the same time. I also know this is where God is sending me. I am book marking this post, I know I will need to re-read when I get there.
    thank you.

    • Hi Caryn,

      I work in San Diego and have an hour commute to Temecula area. I was reading the comments and yours stuck out to me. You know me now too. My mom lives in San Diego and attends The Rock Church there. She is single and in her 50’s too. I would love to have lunch with you. Just say YES! My mom can join us. πŸ™‚ What an exciting time to you. Look forward to hearing from you.

  12. I have lived in the same rural community for 25 years. About 11 years ago we changed to the local community church. I have a daughter with a learning disability and my husband doesn’t work, so we have an odd look to most people. These people were nice, but I really didn’t feel “Friended” until about 3 years ago. I began reaching out to the people that I felt were on the “fringe” like me, I would make a point to have coffee, or invite myself over to see these ladies that weren’t in the “inner circle”.
    Being a friend in the way I wanted to be “friended” gave me a couple of special friends. I know this was a “God idea”. Out of my comfort zone.

  13. Seven years ago, I moved away from the normal, comfortable country living of Southern Virgina and right next to the heart of downtown Chicago. Whoa! Talk about a big change. When I moved there, I knew one person and we weren’t even that close. I lived in a tiny studio apartment all by myself and was tempted to stay locked up in that apartment unless I was going to work or school. During that huge transition, my boyfriend (now husband) challenged me to do tip #1 in your post: Pray. He told me to ask God for friends, for an uplifting community. So I did.

    Not long after I started praying, I was sitting in a local park reading some book by Brennan Manning, when a lovely 20-something woman walked up to me and started chatting with me about the book. Come to find out she was a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and loved Jesus very much. Her name was Abigail and she was an answer to prayer. Shortly after that, I made another friend (Hannah) at a downtown church that I visited. Then I met Emily, whom I worked with at Starbucks. Just a few short months later, the four of us started a Bible Study together and they became some of the greatest friends of that season of my life. It was God working at his finest. Answering the desires of a lonely girl’s heart.

    With the changes of life and none of us living in Chicago anymore, we rarely talk now. There is the occasional message on Facebook and a text message here or there, but that season of our lives has changed and moved on. And that’s ok. It was a season in our lives that we all desired and were enriched by and were changed by. There were some beautiful lessons in bravery that I learned from developing those friendships that I have applied to every new relationship I’ve experienced since.

  14. Oh wow. OK. I SO needed someone to shake me by the shoulders and tell me this. Yeah. it hurts.

    I miss a place that holds just a few year’s worth of friendships and ministry’s I was up to my eyeballs in – and it was really HOME. It was a Promised Land after 40 years in the desert. We landed and got put to work. BOOM! People had prayed for 3 years for “us” to come and fill spots that needed filling. It was a perfect match.

    Now we’re in a much better job space for my husband, a great career (and life) move for him. After 20 years of working nearly every weekend (and often 7 days a week!!) he is home weekends. Nearly. Every. Weekend. The trade off is that he is often out of town for 3 days a week. He loves his job. He loves me too, but for that workaholic this is a dream.

    We are learning all over again. How to communicate. How to tolerate. How to break into a new routine. But I’m doing it all without a kindred spirit in sight. It’s only been a few weeks, but I’m already.so.empty. I could stay in bed and sleep the day away. My poor dog beckons me to take her outside to walk, to play – after a few weeks in the apartment that’s HER new routine. Now there’s a yard to let her out in, and I’m finding it hard to get out of my pj’s on this first Monday here. Boxes beckon to be unpacked – but I’m forcing myself away from the computer and stepping into the bath to get cleaned up. To live the abundant, fruitful life that I desire. Well, that I’ve lived before. Breathed. That God born through me.

    If I could just pull myself off this bed…. (I’m going, I’m going…)
    Prayers appreciated…

  15. I’m right there. My husband and I moved last month, 5 hours away from my hometown (the only town I’ve ever lived in). The problem for me is that I do desire close friendship and community, but unlike you, I am a major introvert. Add to that the fact that I struggle with depressioni, severe insecurity, and social anxiety…and that the only church we’re theologically comfortable with is rather large (and not really friendly), and the situation is nearly impossible. But, I know that NOTHING is impossible with God. So, I’m trying not to be discouraged about it.

  16. I havnt moved, but my entire environment is new. New ministry opportunity, new church, etc.
    Starting conversations is how I am walking this out right now. I am working on being the brave yes girl, but praying for discernment at the same time.
    Getting braver every day. How about extending invitations to potential friends. I think that is my next brave step.

  17. Thank you! I’m visiting my brother in Guam right now and really struggling with finding friends. At first I was working with other women and hanging out with them all the time, but that door abruptly closed and I’m finding more and more that I have to be willing to say “yes” to every opportunity and come out of my corner to really connect with people. These tips are great and much appreciated!

    • Hi, Beth. I just recently moved to Guam. I have not made an effort to make friends because I’m usually busy with domestic/parenting duties. I make that my excuse but I am longing to meet other women who love God and share similar interests as myself. If you are still here and want to have some coffee, send me an email.

      Annie, thanks for the reminder to “Ask God.”

    • Hi, Beth. I just recently moved to Guam. I have not made an effort to make friends because I’m usually busy with domestic/parenting duties. I make that my excuse but I am longing to meet other women who love God and share similar interests as myself. If you are still here and want to have some coffee, send me an email.

      Annie, thanks for the reminder to “Ask God.”

    • Hi, Beth. I just recently moved to Guam. I have not made an effort to make friends because I’m usually busy with domestic/parenting duties. I make that my excuse but I am longing to meet other women who love God and share similar interests as myself. If you are still here and want to have some coffee, send me an email.

      Annie, thanks for the reminder to “Ask God.”

  18. My husband and I began attending a new church a year ago and finally settled into a couple’s Sunday school class this summer. Last week we had to break into groups of 3 couples and share something that was hard for us. My husband and I were vulnerable and said, ” Making friends is hard for us.” The next day one of the couples we shared with invited us over for dinner with two other couples from the bigger group so we could get to know people and make some friends. We spent nearly five hours laughing and talking over Mexican food last night and my husband and I drove home so thankful we were vulnerable and shared. I’m learning sometimes you just have to let others know you are looking for friends.

  19. I’m soooo thankful for this article! We’re moving away from our church of 12 years this coming Saturday. This is the church that walked us from single to married and then to married with children. My heart aches at the thought of leaving so many precious people even though we really feel this is the Lord’s leading. I, too, am an extrovert, but with four small children, I frequently feel that it’s too hard to do things with other moms. I can’t seem to socialize when I’m continually trying to keep track of my kids!

    Thanks for the ideas and the kick in the pants to not hide in my house and hold a perpetual pity party! <3

    And…if anyone reads this that happens to live in the Cumming/Alpharetta, GA, area – wanna hang out in a few weeks? πŸ˜€

  20. I heartily agree with “say yes.” We live in a community with many transplants – families come and leave within 3-5 years. For those short-termers, saying “yes” while they’re here can make all the difference. It definitely did for me.

  21. Annie—thank you. Totally what I needed to hear today. Struggling with finding new community, struggling with trusting, struggling with being the one to step out and initiate. As an extrovert, I am energized by people, but struggling right now to find where I fit in. Thanks for your heart and for listening to the Spirit’s prompting to write this post. Today I will choose to be brave and choose JOY. πŸ™‚

  22. I’ve found that building into something together…investing in a ministry or some type of project together… even going on a church mission trip or something like that… tends to be a quick friendship builder. Of course, those relationships take continued time and investment after the project or event is over… but saying “yes” to things like this can be a great start. πŸ™‚ Blessings, ladies!!

  23. Oh, Annie. It’s been two very long and lonely years for me but I’m still waiting patiently on the Lord. I have acquaintances, sure, but nothing solid or regular. I made the mistake of believing my bible study ladies were friends, only to realize (in a very embarrassing way) that it was *friendly* banter amongst women of a shared interest … not actual friendship.
    I keep moving forward, keep inviting people over, keep making coffee dates and joining groups and praying. I figure whenever they arrive by God’s good grace, those are going to be some A-MAZING friends. πŸ™‚

    • Wow…you sound so much like me! I, too, have lots of “acquaintances” but no real friends here. It’s so tough. Praying that GOd will open doors for you and give you those real relationships that go beyond the superficial. I believe His word calls us to get to know each other on a deeper level, and I pray you’ll find other women yearning for that as well.

  24. Great ideas…at least I know I tried some of the right things.
    Unfortunately, I seem to be an utter failure in the friend department.
    I wonder if God has simply planned for my life to be friendless…in the same way that He chooses somepeople to be single.
    I’m not shy…not overly extroverted either, but I don ‘t struggle to reach out…I love to invite people to my home (messy as it is)…I find it easy to get involved in group activites that I find fun and interesting…and I always make the deadly mistake of assuming that being treated in a friendly way affords me the privilege of being a friend…sadly it is not so.

  25. I moved 4 and a bit years ago and did all those things. Said yes to everything, turned up, invited people over. But after a while the small group from church disbanded because the kids fought, the craft groups melted away or changed locations, the coffee meetings stopped when work commitments crept in and so it went. I feel like I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall for the last few years. So many people aren’t “recruiting” friends, happy in their circle so don’t want others. What I have learnt is that friendship takes time to grow, and the older we get the less receptive we are to new people, new friends.

  26. I agree. I moved to a new town17 years ago. I knew absolutely noone except my parents. First thing I did was get involved a little with a local Methodist church. Met some nice people.

    Since then I have worked in several different jobs, volunteered, gotten involved in various ministries and met numerous wonderful people. For the past 8 years I have been going to this great small church and the people there are absolutely friendly. Our women’s Bible study is a good place to really get to know the women better.
    Love this small town! πŸ˜‰

    Get out & get involved in a few activities and you will meet people!

  27. Thanks for sharing! As a military wife that moves every few years, I needed to read this. We’ll be embarking on yet another move in January to San Diego. I told God I wouldn’t go back to Cali after living there 7 years ago. Nice, huh? Instead of giving us our first choice of moving back to Annapolis, where we lived before my hubby deployed to Afghanistan, or any of our other 5 choices we thought were great, God said no. His #7 choice for us…going back to Cali. San Diego. I’m ready! (He has a thing about the #7!) I know it will be great…who wouldn’t want to live in SD?!

    Thanks for reminding this fellow extrovert that in order to thrive, in order to have community, I’ll have to be…I don’t know…intentional!?

  28. Wow! Look at all these comments from people who need and want friends!! Here are my tips: Look around at church and in your neighborhood, people who have just moved to town likely don’t have friends and want some! Ask them to coffee or to your home. Prepare ahead of time to ask them about THEMSELVES…and listen!

  29. Thank you so much for the tips, I know I needed them. I recently graduated from college and moved back home. It’s been difficult being away from most of my friends and I have been hesitant to invest in new relationships here because I’m still searching for a job and don’t know how long I will be here. Still, I feel like God is pushing me to get involved in community where I am right now, and your post was just further confirmation of that. Blessings.

  30. This is so what I needed to hear this week. I love it when God works like that. We moved this summer too. I’m struggling with the same feelings you (and others) mentioned and trying to “fight the good fight” at the same time. It’s especially hard because we haven’t found a church that really clicks yet. When that happens I’m hoping things will get better. Thanks for the encouragement!