How to find your friends in a new town
A little over a year ago, I moved to Anderson, SC, for a year-long internship. After the internship finished, I stepped out in faith and decided to stay here with no job prospect, no family near me, and very little money. It didn’t make any sense, but I knew that the Lord had called me to Anderson for a season of time.
Developing deep friendships as a young adult in a brave, new world seems like an impossible mission. In high school and college, you have built-in community. But what happens when you move away, or all of your friends move away? How do you develop friends in this bigger world where people already have people?
During those first three months, I don’t know how many times I asked God, “Why am I here? How on earth are you going to turn this around?”
Making the decision to move away from the people who know me best was difficult. But God doesn’t abandon us when life gets hard, and as I’m learning first-hand, He gives us the tools to create community wherever we go.
3 Practical Ways to Create Community After College
1. Engage people at work.
Wherever you work, you have people around you. Invite them to your house for dinner, or ask them to get coffee with you during your break. One of the closing instructions in Hebrews reminds us to show hospitality to strangers, which at this point your work colleagues are (Hebrews 13:2). You never know the spiritual impact dinner or coffee could make, or the friendships that could develop out of it. This could be a chance for you to become friends with someone you don’t know well.
2. Get involved in a local church.
Wherever you move, you already have a family in the church. Romans 12:5-6 reminds us that in Christ we are one body, and each member belongs to one another. The purpose of the church is to create relationships that point us back to Jesus.
We all desire to be known. The deep desire for community comes from us resembling the Trinity. We were never meant to be alone (Genesis 2:18). You can build intimate relationships by sharing life with the people in your church. The people in your church can actually become your family. There are many ways to get involved at church. Find a place to serve or join a Group.
3. Be proactive.
Don’t wait for friends to simply fall into your lap. Be prepared to put yourself out there and be the one to initiate. Remember, “the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). You can be the one to reach out to someone else, no matter how uncomfortable it seems because you have the power of Jesus in you.
Ultimately, Jesus has you where you are for a reason. Giving up on relationships leads to isolation, and going home might be walking away from God's call on your life.
Look at the opportunities and spaces God has placed in your life. Pray and ask Jesus to send people to you. Be vulnerable and go first. There's a good chance you're not the only one in this position. Maybe you next best friend is waiting for you to share your struggle.