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  • Writer's pictureMegan Estes

Finding Friends Who Fiercely Love You

Updated: Feb 4

In every season of my life I've experienced hardship, loss, growth, and some form of community through friendship. There have been a few seasons of life in particular that cultivated deeper friendship. Attending Bible college connected me with several amazing women that loved Jesus and showed me what genuine friendship and living life as a community looked like. Years later in another season I experienced huge crisis. Not having any emotional energy to pour into friends I learned very quickly who wasn't going to be scared away by my crisis and actually had the grace and emotional strength to pour into me and pursue me--while I didn't have much to give. Fast forward to my current situation, choosing to surround myself with moms venturing along the same lifecall and path I'm on has also brought deep fulfilling friendships. So what does Bible college, a crisis, and my current situation have in common? They have all been seasons of friends that made team effort, who are in mixed life stages, and have common values that line up with where I'm at. Let's look at these three healthy friendship traits more in depth.

Building Friendship Is a Team Effort-Why Won't They Join My Team?

If you're anything like me, a recovering co-dependent, you may often find yourself trying to people please, make sure everyone is included, and occasionally be involved in relationships that are centered around one person taking rather than "giving in" to the friendship. Have you been there? Now granted, some relationships are meant to be one way--specifically mentoring relationships. But, healthy friendships always involve two active parties. When two people are pursuing one another, meeting each other's needs, and encouraging one another it truly is a beautiful thing! Who doesn't want that?! So why is it so hard to find people that actually make an effort towards genuine friendship sometimes? Here's what I found:

finding friends who will join my team

  1. I wasn't looking in the right places

  2. I had extremely high expectations

  3. I wanted to be the star player and not have any assists

Looking in the "right place" simply means that if I'm hungry for friendship with great depth and similar values I'm probably not going to find that hanging around people I don't have much in common with. For instance, there was a season I wanted depth with certain women but we had decided to take two very different paths in life, and so I had to come to terms with the fact that they weren't going to be interested in what I was journeying through. I needed to start hanging out with people of similar interests, even though I knew that would mean stepping away from regular gatherings with these friends. And when I did start hanging out with new women of similar interests I had to bravely step into the circle. Sometimes it just takes a few seconds of bravery to invite a new friend over, show up to a new group, or invite a friend to an event you're already going to in order to start a budding friendship. When you step forward keep your eyes open for who else genuinely takes a step forward as well, because you might just be the answer to each other's prayers.

Having extremely high expectations usually doesn't end well for friendships. Did I mention I'm also a recovering "idealist?" I used to meet a potential new friend and find out we had so much in common that I unconsciously fast-forwarded years in my mind of how we were going to raise our kids, have game night every week with our families, and grow old together. Yikes! That's an unfair amount of pressure to put on a new friendship, even when you do so unknowingly. I've grown to be more realistic when it comes to friends--embracing the fact that most friendships are seasonal, and to truly treasure the ones that continue to prove strong year after year. I still have healthy expectations for those I share my heart with, but I am more realistic about my humanity and the humanity of others. The only person who is not going to fail me is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and when I am walking with Him closely I am not so easily disappointed by the imperfections of other relationships.

Finally, I've learned to let others "assist" and "help" me in life. This means I have to find strength to reach out and ask for help when I'm in need, instead of always choosing to be strong and independent. No one wants a friend that never seems to accept help from anyone. You know what happens to really independent people? They live their lives alone. If I want a friendship that is two-way I have to be vulnerable at some point in the relationship to share my weaknesses instead of always presenting my best "self." This process is humbling, but oh man does it create space for true intimacy with the right people. I've learned the hard way that not everyone who you share your vulnerability with will stay in your life--which is scary. Overtime I've learned how to sense a kindred spirit in others and and pursue a deeper friendship. The alternative is to "stay safe" and all alone. Don't let fear stand in the way of truly being known by others!

Inner Circles Are Biblical-But How Do I Go About Finding Friends For One?

I wasted a lot of my younger years trying to love people well by being friends with EVERYONE and not allowing myself to spend much time with the people that actually lifted my spirits. For some reason I felt guilty if I wasn't including everyone at every hangout or event. This resulted in me running myself ragged by trying to be all things for all people--even people that didn't really need/connect with me. I put this pressure on myself to always be the pursuer and keep chasing people with loving grace. I now realize part of that pursuing heart I have is due to my wiring as an evangelist. Evangelists are always focused on inviting people IN.

finding friends to join my inner circle

But, evangelists still need an inner circle around them that they can lean on instead of always finding themselves in brand new relationships because they are such a connector. Jesus himself hung out with twelve disciples but had a smaller circle within even that small circle of men! Who am I to think I can manage 100 deep and soul fulfilling friendships if even Jesus limited himself with who was in his inner circle?!

Okay, so now that I know it's okay for me to have a few treasured friends I keep close to myself, how do I find/make these friends? Honestly, sometimes they find you. Other times, you just have to keep being brave and inviting others in. Take a chance and guide a conversation to the next level by asking questions like, "how can I pray for you?" or "how are you and the hubby? can I help you get a date night soon?" While these questions are forward, when asked at the right time and in the right way people can see that you genuinely care about them and want to know them. Everyone desires to be known, don't we? Oftentimes people will really appreciate you pursuing them but choose to not open up due to their own insecurities, and we have to accept that. Other times people will open up all the way and never think about pursuing you back in the same way because they are at a different spiritual maturity level than you. But sometimes, once in a while, questions like these open the door for a beautiful two-way friendship to truly blossom. Then you can keep watering it and watering it and praying God will bless it. Just remember, when you're in group settings to make sure you don't cling to your inner circle; group hangouts are for groups. Make it a priority to gather your inner circle regularly to foster those friendships and don't feel guilty about not inviting everyone else!

Peers Are Often the "Judgiest"

I learned the hard way early on that I needed to have friend groups of different ages and different parenting seasons. My first friend group as a mom was with several other young moms right where I was at--nursing my first baby. (We literally would hang out and nurse our firstborns together). Parenting your firstborn is when the comparison game truly starts. Before you know it you're all raising toddlers and judging one another on how well behaved your child is!

finding friends who show only love today not judge

I actually lost some friends because my kid was being a kid. I didn't realize how stressful some of these friendships truly were until I hung out with moms that had more than one kid and had been around the block a minute. They were so encouraging and uplifting even when they could tell I was stressed out about how my kid was behaving. I found myself breathing easier and relaxing around older moms instead of feeling like I needed to be "on" around my peers. I started making it a priority to hang with women who were a step ahead of me, asking them for advice, sharing my heart, and soaking up encouraging words. Those women helped me grow into a more confident young mom, who was then able to turn around and offer the same love and grace back to my peers. Bottomline--do what God's Word says and seek to walk with people that are older and wiser. Don't limit your friendship box to people in the same stage of life as you.

Soul Fulfilling Friendships Have Similar Soul Appetites

I can only talk so long about surface level things, and then a part of me dies inside. Seriously. I hunger for conversational depth! I can't be good friends with others unless we are going to frequently and regularly go deep. My soul has been hungry for different relational depth in different seasons. Right now it deeply yearns for discussing homeschooling and discipling. The last place I need to go when I'm questioning my homeschool methods or voicing struggles is to the door of my friends that chose a different schooling method. I need mamas right here and now that offer wisdom and spur me on with this lifecall. I also want to be a godly wife, woman, friend, and pursuer of truth. So I've sought to find women who are hungry for more Truth just like me. They aren't just going through the motions. They are constantly learning and growing and seeking knowledge. I'm a learner, so I love to connect with others that are challenging themselves in learning something new. I want/need spiritual cheerleaders in my life, not conversational narcissists. When you share a praise or success story you should hear cheering sounds from your crew--NOT their latest achievement. When you share your struggles or pain you should receive empathy and care, NOT a run-on sentence of how their life is harder at the moment, or how they've lived through worse.

finding friends that refresh your soul is needed

Soul fulfilling friendships hunger for similar truths and cheer each other on. I love the quote on social media that goes something like, "be the type of woman who straightens another's crown without telling the world that it is crooked." Correct in private and praise in public. Everyone needs a friend that will lead a cheering section and lead it loudly in their favor! Stay away from the friendships that fill you up like cookies--they're great in the moment but leave you craving more and never quite fulfill! Indulge in friendships that resemble the full healthy meal you know your soul craves. When you find those friendships you'll stop eating so shallow. Your soul will crave more and more of "the real thing" because that's what your soul was made for.


Friendships are hard work, especially the great ones. We're all constantly growing, changing, and learning more about our own weaknesses. We must be gracious and patient with one another, and with God. Maybe you're still waiting for that group you can truly lean on and you're wondering why they haven't arrived yet. Be brave. Step into another circle. Don't quit pursuing the types of friends you know you need. Be a radically loving friend to someone today--without expecting anything back. It might be good to take a minute to see if your expectations from friendship are really desires only Christ can fulfill. Seek Him first. Seek Him fully. Otherwise, no matter how loving or great a friend you meet, it will never feel like enough. Fill up on the only relationship that can satisfy your dry and thirsty soul. THEN, keep your eyes out for other humans to adventure and laugh with along this trek called life.

Psalm 107:8-9

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love

and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

9 for he satisfies the thirsty

and fills the hungry with good things.

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