In a lonely world where isolation is the norm and competition is the default, the deep connection of friendship is a rare gift.

You Can Cultivate Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World

  • There’s Abby, my resource, the friend I call on when I need advice–or a place to vent;
  • There’s Sandi, my ministry colleague and voice of reason; the friend I laugh with and work alongside;
  • There’s Lori who sets the example for me:  hard-working, huge-hearted, and the friend with whom I have grown into mothering.

There are others, older and younger, who have offered life giving friendship to me. In a lonely world where isolation is the norm and competition is the default, the deep connection of friendship is a rare gift.

Author Sally Clarkson has leaned hard into connection–in spite of having moved seventeen times–and her daughters Sarah and Joy have learned well from her example. Girls’ Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World is their collaboration in three voices. Part memoir and part road map, it offers “practices of holy rebellion” (22) that have helped the Clarkson women to resist isolation and chronic busy-ness (the enemies of friendship!) and to embrace self-examination, habits of holiness–and large mugs of strong, hot tea around a welcoming table.

While enjoying the pace of the Clarkson women’s stories, readers will be inspired and instructed in the art and science of cultivating deep and lasting friendships. From the harvest of their wisdom, I have winnowed five practices that I need to work on–and maybe you do, too?

1. Call out the strength in each other.

One Girls’ Club adventure happened on Prince Edward Island. The threesome had eaten their fill at a bed and breakfast where they got directions to the location that inspired the White Sands Hotel. Since it was supposedly within walking distance, they proceeded to walk off that big breakfast, but hours and kilometers later, there was still no sign of this Green Gables landmark. Joy was “hangry,” footsore, sunburned, and ready to give up, but her mum called her back to reason with these words:

“I think you have it in you to be brave.”

Adventurous Anne of Green Gables would have done it, so Joy decided she could, too, but the story would likely have ended very differently if Sally had not reached deeply into her daughter and pulled out the determination that was hidden there. Whether on a twelve-kilometer slog through unfamiliar territory, a family health crisis, or a deeply hurtful relationship challenge, women can call out bravery in one another with messages of strength and confidence.

2. Embrace the “Capaciousness of Womanhood”

In 2019, there is room for every kind of woman. When we give one another permission to lean into our callings without judgment, we put on display the beauty of “could.” I knew when my oldest son was born that I “could” have kept on working at a job I loved, but I also knew that I wanted to devote full time to my family.

The blessing of circumstances that worked together so that I “could” do that then have led me now to broaden my imagination for what’s next–and for what God “could” do in our lives when we embrace the wide open spaces created by His love. There is an abundance of work that needs doing in this world, and God has gifted and equipped His women in diverse ways to accomplish His plans.

3. Understand Friendship and Create Space in Your Life for It

If friendship is “something we both create and give,” if it is “a priority we choose amid the demands of life,” (70) it does not make sense for us to sit around and wait for friendship to strike like lightening in our lives. When my kids were all small, and I was housebound and homeschooling, I would lament the long stretches of time without what I would probably have called “meaningful conversation.”

One day it dawned on me that the women God had already placed in my life through play dates and church activities were the gift He was providing for friendship. We leaned into each other with a Bible study and playground appointments to the delight of our children and to the enrichment of all our lives.

“Usually friendship grows over time when planted in the soil of life, grown over seasons, and watered with love so it can flourish in the sunshine of life shared.” (115)

4. Fight for Balance

Boundaries rescue us from emotional depletion and sleep-deprived pity parties, but sometimes we need a little help from our friends in maintaining healthy priorities. Allowing them to speak truth into our lives takes humility, but it is an exercise in self-care that will make us more effective servants of God.

One dear couple expressed their concern–and then loaned us their house on the Atlantic Ocean for a weekend away, because they could see exhaustion from family and ministry was licking at our heels. Uninterrupted sleep and the delicious breakfast casserole they left for us spelled l-o-v-e, and we returned home with new energy and equilibrium.

5. Give and Receive the Gift of Love

When Henri Nouwen said, “The greatest gift we can give each other is the gift of our belovedness,” he was calling believers into an awareness of God’s great love that sings over us and celebrates our uniqueness. When we give and receive friendship, we are changed in ways that expand our capacity to love even more, and we experience the nature of God by opening our own hearts in imitation of His wide, long, deep, and towering love. By faith we learn that the gift of friendship is God’s great love flowing down and turning sideways as it runs its terrain-shaping course through wide-open hearts.

Many thanks to Tyndale for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

Your friend,

michele signature[1]

Sally Clarkson has written extensively about home and family, and The Lifegiving Table: Nurturing Faith through Feasting, One Meal at a Time is a resource I return to for inspiration. For more Clarkson wisdom, you can read my review here.


I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase Girls’ Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World or The Lifegiving Table: Nurturing Faith through Feasting, One Meal at a Time, simply click on the title (or the image) within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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48 thoughts on “You Can Cultivate Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World”

  1. The description of the relationship of the three women in Sally’s book remind me of the deep friendship I had with my two sisters through the years. I lost one of my sisters nearly seven years ago, and though I’ve continued to be close to my older sister things will never be the same without Linda. How important the ‘sisterhood’ of women’s friendships have been throughout my lifetime. Working in a female dominated profession saw no shortage friendships with coworkers. I miss them, but it has been interesting to branch out into cultivating and renewing nonprofessional friendships in my retirement. And I’ve had so many wonderful women from my church show me how to be a loving friend by their examples.

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    1. Molly, it does not surprise me one bit to learn that you are part of a network of solid relationships. And I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. My husband’s sister passed away a few years ago, and it does change everything, doesn’t it?
      I appreciate your implication that the practice of friendship is something we can be “shown.” I think that has been my experience as well–and I’m still learning!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband and I were talking some weeks ago about how we have a few friends here (we moved to our current location almost four years ago), but that these aren’t very deep relationships. We’re still thinking on why this is. Are we not investing enough time? Do we need to try to get involved in a different church or different activities to meet other people? Is this just how friendships become when you’re in the stage of life where your kids take up so much of your energy? Is it just us?
    I’ll check my library for this one…perhaps it will provide some insight and encouragement!

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    1. Oh, great questions, Shannon! I think the answers will end up being different for everyone, but as you lean into the challenge of forming deep and meaningful friendships, may the Lord honor your intentions with opportunities to follow up and with wisdom to discern the next steps.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re so blessed, Michele! True friendship is not that easy to come by these days, and you have more than one! Thanks for your review of this book. Blessings to you!

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  4. In my years of women’s ministry, I see so many women ignore this need in their lives. They are busy with children, a husband and keeping a home, and many work full-time. Whatever it looks like, we need to be intentional about cultivating friendships with godly women (I’d add not a mother or sister). It fills a different place in our hearts. Thankful for my dear friends!

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  5. I think we appreciate friends more as we age. I have friends whom I have known for a lifetime (or so it seems) and those I recently added to the group of individuals I label “friends”. Both are precious to me. I especially liked this line: “In 2019, there is room for every kind of woman”.

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    1. I have friends who have known me for so long that I wonder why they have even stuck with me! It’s true–time does seem to make the connections more precious, and I think it may have something to do with the realization of how temporary even a life time is.

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  6. Yes – I remember those early-mom years of living for play dates and the church’s monthly ladies meeting. Now in a nearly-empty nest, I sometimes have to be more deliberate cultivating friendships since I have fewer “natural” times of interaction. Thanks for the suggestions of ways to do that. I particularly like the idea of calling out another’s strength, especially when it would be so easy to dissolve into a mutual pity party.

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  7. The number of my friends has definitely decreased over the last decade, but the ones who are still around are beyond value for their commitment, care and love and laughter – that’s what friendship is really all about – the ones that come and go are fine, but long term friends are just the BEST.

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  8. I love how you start this article about listing some friends and the role in your life. It made me think how I turn to different friends for different things. Because just like us, they have different strengths and provide different blessings into our lives.

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  9. You have made me think as you always do which is a good thing. This week friendship is very much on my mind as an old friend from college has liked a post of mine on FB – we have been out of touch for many years and I am hope this is the start of our way back to each other #TwinklyTuesday

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  10. Such a warm book… and they go to Canada!!! I love it ❤ So great to linkup with you again Michele. You're my favourite link-buddy when I get time 🙂 Yes, I spelled it the Canadian way since Canada was discussed! Praying I get to speak in your area sometime so I can meet you face-to-face. Ha! Have a blessed day Michele!
    Much love,
    ~Sherry
    xoxo

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    1. Love the Canadian way! My mum was Canadian and she still has one living brother who is 93. We traveled north to visit him and his sweet wife back in January, and it was such a special day!

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  11. This is a good reminder for me to create space for it. I get more introverted as I get older, but I need to prioritize friendships just the same because we support each other so well.
    #homemakinglinkup

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  12. […] Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World — Then, Sally Clarkson has teamed up with her daughters to inspire and instruct readers in the art and science of cultivating deep and lasting friendships  with  her  latest  book, Girls’ Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World. […]

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  13. It’s so important for us to have Christian mentors and friends, no matter your age, no matter how long you’ve been a Christian. Great post! Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

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  14. All of these points are important, Michele, but creating space for friendship resonates with me this morning for some reason. Life gets hectic at times–both physically and emotionally. We have to consciously make room for the things that are most important to us. Our deep friendships fall in that category. My closest friend (outside of family) passed away this year. I miss her deeply and am so grateful for the opportunity to have known her and loved her for more than 30 years.

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    1. Oh, Christie, I’m so sorry to hear that your closest friend passed away. I’m grateful that you have the perspective on it that you’ve managed to grasp, and yet I know from experience that you will never stop missing her. So important to make room in our lives for going deep in relationship.

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  15. This is wonderful. I have a young daughter and struggle to maintain close friendships, or even just get out of the house. This has reminded me that it does take intention and purpose!

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    1. Yes,and this is a season of one kind of struggle. You’ll find the struggle changes, but it’s always worth pushing ourselves out the door in order to connect with others.

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  16. My friends are there when I need them and know I am there for them too but we might not keep in touch too often due to work and child responsibilities. True friendship goes beyond distance and time. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Like

  17. I loved the nuggets of truth that you weaved throughout your reviews. I need to work on friendships this Spring. I need to cultivate loving relationships that further Christ’s kingdom. Thanks so much for sharing on the #LMMLinkup this past week.

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  18. A refreshing post and reminder to look for friendship everywhere. Thanks for joining #muttonstylemonday #linkup

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  19. Thanks for sharing with the #DreamTeam It can be hard to make friends sometimes. As a mother with children just at the beginning of school I am in a period where I am making lots of connections and really building that group of supportive friends. It is quite an exciting time in that respect.

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    1. That’s so wonderful! So often I hear women say that their children are an obstacle to relationships, but I hear you saying that you are connecting with others who have children at that same stage of life. That is so wise!

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  20. Good solid friendships are growing ever more important as the world and society seem to get colder and more distant from one another. Sounds like an interesting book. Oh and I adore Anne of Green Gables! #GlobalBlogging (Oh and I am really late on the linkies. Plus, I’m coming from a different account. Have A GREAT day!)

    Like

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