In middle age, many women discover they’re downsizing and moving into a brand-new neighborhood, so to speak. Midlife strips us of the things that formed our network of relationships back in the old neighborhood of our 20s and 30s: children’s activities or the drive to find meaning in a career. This new life location can be lonely. No one I know is riding in a red convertible with her empty-nester Gal Pals, singing along to oldies while heading together to a beach house weekend. Most of us aren’t looking for Gal Pals, anyway. We’re simply looking for a few friends in our new neighborhood. Studies confirm what we intuitively know: loneliness is a serious issue with far-reaching consequences as we get older.
The standard friend-making advice offers motivational action steps: take a class, join a group, serve those in need in your community. In addition, Christians are encouraged to find fellowship at church, though they may discover that there aren’t always as many age peers attending as they might hope.
The suggestions are useful, but without first doing what Jesus asks of us, our efforts will not be grounded in kingdom reality. We can not befriend others if we are not willing to first befriend our midlife selves. Relying on the identity that seemed to fit like a glove at age 25 to build new relationships when we are 47 won’t net us the kind of authentic relationships we’re longing for in our second adulthood, nor does it honor the process of God’s transforming, maturing work in our lives.