Last Sunday I looked around the Relief Society room and realized that after more than a year in my new ward I don’t actually have a friend.
This is a somewhat unusual position for me: I always have a friend, and if I don’t, I make one right away. My ward is mostly friendly, but not terribly welcoming, if you understand the difference. Most of the women are at least 15 years older than I am and already have friends in the ward. I’ve never been an ageist friend-maker so it would seem that these women are simply not interested in me. I’m the outsider: the one who speaks up in Sunday School, the one who works, the one who doesn’t quite fit.
I have yet to have the “hit-off” that sometimes comes from great visiting teaching pairings. I go to Enrichment activities but sit with different women each time, and never quite feeling like I belong. I’m in the cub scouts, so I don’t have the chance to build up a rapport with a regular group of women (my awesome co-den leader is in a neighboring ward.)
I have plenty of friends at the stake level, and even friends who meet in the same building but at different times. I look forward to stake activities because I’ll get to see a dozen women whom I love and with whom I can commune.
When I’ve been in this situation briefly in the past, I’d just get up my gumption and try assigning myself some friends. I’d sit next to people and engage them in conversation, I’d try to find commonalities and turn up my sparkly-self to Mach 10. It hasn’t worked so far. I’ve spotted another woman on the other side of the room who I think could be my friend. She also sits alone a lot. I looked for her this week and she wasn’t there. I can try again next week.
I don’t necessarily need a friend in my ward, but having a friend at church really does make it a nicer place to be, right? Even President Hinckley said that every convert needs a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing. I’m not a convert, but I think I’d still like a friend.
Have you ever struggled to make friends in a ward?
Did you even decide to move to attend a different ward?
How has making friends made your ward a better place?