Keep Your Circle Broken: Finding Ways to Say Hello


Finding friends and feeling like you belong somewhere can be hard. We talked yesterday in Part 1  about the importance of keeping our circles broken and reaching out, and the importance of acknowledging that not every friend will be the same, nor will we have the same types of friendships with everyone. Today, in Part 2, we’re continuing where we left off – why we need to be ok with not being as perfect as we wish we were.

(Miss yesterday’s post? Read it here.)

#3 – Be ok with your imperfections.

I am awful about assuming the worst sometimes – usually about myself. A friend never returns an invite, and I think I must be someone she doesn’t want to hang out with, or I get my feelings hurt when I stop and think about all the times I’ve reached out to someone to encourage but I get crickets when I’m looking for some encouragement for myself.

I’ve finally come to realize, after serving in women’s ministry for a few years now,  that most of the time (there ARE exceptions), it’s not necessarily just you. We all have issues, don’t we ladies?

As women, we are overworked, overextended, overworried and overstimulated (I really wanted to say over-Pinterested).

We don’t invite people over because our homes don’t look like a magazine cover. And we’re afraid people will realize we have laundry. And dishes. And kids who make messes. Husbands too. (See the post from yesterday and the photo of this door below that also shows the floor. I tried REALLY HARD to get a close up of all the dust. My camera would not cooperate. And I was just a little relieved.) | Keep Your Circle Broken: Finding Ways to Say Hello | Keep Your Circle Broken: How to Say Hello

We approach life through lists. Making friends and making time for friends is at the end of a verrrry long series of home improvement projects. And we’re still on number two. And I’m already REALLY tired.

We worry about what others will think about us. What if I make stupid jokes? What do I talk about? What CAN I talk about? What have I already been judged for? What WILL I be judged for?

Friends, can we just commit right now to not assume someone who is outgoing already has a ton of friends? Can we also promise we’ll stop assuming if a woman is quiet, that she must not be interested in conversation? Let’s be more willing to learn something about someone else, and worry less about not having anything in common.

I knew my friend Karim, a pediatrician and the mom of one of my son’s friends, for over a year before I found out by accident one day that she is an incredible cupcake baker, and only because she came over one day when I was trying to bake cupcakes myself. She offered some helpful tips and I remember thinking, how did I not know she knew this?

We struggle to trust. If you live in a large city, this may not feel as much of a problem, but since we moved back to our smaller hometown where so many still know each other from when they were in grade school, and probably your parents, inlaws, siblings and nieces and nephews, I’ve noticed this can definitely cause hesitation among some women. We’re fine talking about the weather or concerts or the latest books we’ve read but don’t ask me to talk about my marriage or the problems I’m having with my children. I don’t know who you know who I don’t want hearing about it.

We all want to make good impressions on the people around us because we all want to be liked. But when we’re so afraid of revealing a flaw that we won’t take a chance to make a friend, it’s time to reevaluate some things.

We are just too dang busy. That’s right, I said “dang.” It’s true! If you have a job outside the home, you’re busy. If you’re at home with your kids, you’re busy. If you do anything else outside working, home keeping, yard maintaining, church going, grocery shopping, appointment keeping – you are CRAZY busy.

For a long time, I was the world’s WORST at this.

When my friends called me, their first sentence out of their mouths was “I know you’re busy, but…” I wore it as a badge of honor. Being busy means you’re doing stuff, right? You’ve got places to be, people to cancel on, checklists to check off….

Eventually, though, I realized it’s not honoring to never have time for other people.

Jesus made time for people. We need to as well. That friend who can never meet for lunch or coffee? Maybe she can’t bring herself to do something fun when she has 20 other things she already feels guilty about not doing. So don’t decide or declare she’s just a “loner” or a “snob.” She may just have no idea how to juggle it all at the moment. You probably don’t either. (Or if you think you do, pray hard. God is really good at tripping us up when we become too confident or reliant on ourselves.) Then pray for your friend. Keep offering encouragement. And keep asking.

Why? Because one day, when she’s at the end of her proverbial busy rope, she may very well just say yes.

#4. Ask questions.

Since I’ve spent most of my professional career doing interviews with others so I can write stories about them, this isn’t usually hard for me. I realize this isn’t easy for everyone. Sometimes you just get stuck and you have no idea what to say. What’s too personal? What if I ask something dumb? What if we just run out of things to say?

Asking questions may not be very hard but I still relate in getting people to answer them. Earlier this week, I had a brief conversation with someone who answered “Good” to every question I asked. It’s difficult to have any kind of meaningful (or even memorable) talk when the ball keeps getting tossed out of bounds instead of back in your court. This is where great questions can help.

Some tips for question asking? Avoid using “Did” and “How” at the beginning of your questions (the mistake I made when I tried talking to my friend who was so “good” with everything).

Instead, ask questions that start with What.

“My Monday turned out a whole lot better than I expected it would. What was your best day this week?”(Follow up with Why?)

“I always feel like I never have enough time to plan meals, do you? What do you do when you’re juggling everything?”

Ask questions that start with When – (and follow up with a What).

“So when did you move to town – to church – to this school – to this job?”

“What brought you here?”

“I probably should know this (it’s ok to admit memory lapses – it means we’re human – and very distracted!), but when were your kids born?

What would you say has been the best thing about being their mom?”

If you still have trouble getting someone to open up and talk? Give grace, and pray for a new opportunity down the road.

#5. Never stop saying hello.

Someone once said to have friends, you must first be a friend.

Have you ever wished this wasn’t so true? Especially in those seasons of life when you feel like you’re the only one making an effort to begin with?

Me too.

Why do I have to initiate everything, Lord? has often been my cry. Why can’t someone come to ME?

I get it. Sometimes our feelings of loneliness overwhelm our feelings to do something about it. So we just stop. We quit. We don’t try. Our expectations for others aren’t met, so our inclinations are to give up.

I once sat at lunch with a good friend of mine when we lived in Nashville and both of us talked about how lonely each of us felt and how we wished we had more friends. Did you catch that? We were sitting with a FRIEND! See how the enemy can play with our minds?

Here’s what I have to remember: It’s not about what someone else can do for me. God is quite capable of taking care of my needs. When I can remember that truth, I am less likely to turn inward instead of outward.

When I turn outward, I’m useable. I see things I won’t see if I’m staring at my proverbial belly button, lint picking and nit picking everything that is wrong in my life. When my focus is turned outward, God can use me to help encourage someone else – through a smile, an encouraging word, or a text that says “I’m praying for you.”

God uses us through our broken circles.

God uses us through our repeated “hellos” that will sometimes require just as much courage as the first time we say it.

God uses us when we pray that “He will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19) so we can “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Today as I see text messages come across my phone from friends encouraging me, praying for me, or checking on me, I’m deeply reminded of the benefit that comes with a broken circle with unlimited room for one more.

And to think, almost all of those friendships began with a reluctant obedience to say hello.

And then with the courage to say hello again.

And again.

And again.

I know how hard and sometimes even painful it can be to reach out to others for a connection. Sometimes it just FEELS easier not to. But it can also feel extremely lonely. I’d love to hear from those of you who have found ways to overcome the fear of saying hello and reaching out to others. What are your tips for other women who struggle with this? What has worked for you? Share in the comments and let’s help each other pursue keeping our circles broken, so there is always room for one more.

With much love,



P.S. Want to go back and read the first part of this two-part post? Please do!


Sometimes before we can be a friend to others, there are areas in our lives God wants to work on first. Have you read my book, How Can I Possibly Forgive? Order a signed copy today from my store, OR right now for the month of July, when you sign up for Vyrso’s daily deals list, you can receive the ebook version FREE! | Keep Your Circle Broken. "Jesus never chose projects over people because projects were never His priority or His passion. People were."
 | Keep Your Circle Broken: To the Woman Who's Tired of Saying Hello and the Woman Who Doesn't Always Think To.


  1. Priscilla Arnett on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Been there, done that.
    12 moves in 26 years as an Air Force wife.
    Moving every 2 to 3 years is very hard on friendships. And after awhile it gets harder to make friends because of the pain when you have to leave them. It gets easier to not even make friends.

    • B on Friday, July 10, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      So true. You’d think after all our years in the Army, it would be easier to make friends. Practice makes perfect, right? Not so much. Two dear friends just PCS’d and that exhausted ache washes over me. Here we go again….Gotta keep on swimmin’!

  2. Buffy on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    I had a similar situation to what you described in Part 1. Moved to a new place, joined a church, went to the women’s group and got the cold shoulder. For a year, I went to every meeting and tried to break into circles and nothing, sometimes not even a hello back. For an introvert that was very hard! I promised myself to try one more time. A woman came up to me and started a conversation. Hallelujah! I finally broke through! We had a really nice chat and then everyone sat down for the program. And then I realized that I had been talking to the guest speaker (who came from a long way away!) and none of the other women in the room had talked to HER either. I never went back and I don’t even belong to that church anymore.

    but your post has me thinking that it’s time to try again somewhere new…. and to call the acquaintance I’d like to get to know better. so thank you for that reminder!

  3. Bethany Persons (@bethanylanell) on Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    I have lived in Chicago for almost seven years. I have struggled to make friends the whole time, all of these points hit the bullseye. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of something I did in college – I asked someone to be a prayer partner, and it blossomed into a beautiful friendship. I tried that again a few months ago. I don’t know if this will turn into a life long friendship, but so far it’s a really good right now friendship. The Holy Spirit also reminded me, as you said, I don’t need to go into every friendship wondering if this person will become my new best friend, that I should gladly receive the friendship that is offered and offer my own in response, or in the first place.

    I have a 16 month old daughter now. She opens lots of opportunities for friendship for me. But I really hope and pray I can learn how to be a friend well enough to teach her to be a friend.

  4. Hannah Schwenke on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Been there before. I really love both of these articles. I struggle with making friends and also struggle with realizing that all friendships don’t have to look the same. The thing I struggle with most is conversation questions and keeping it going. I am single and have been an mk. I remember a roommate situation I was in a few years ago where I felt I was a third wheel because the other two girls work with each other at the Christian school and they seemed to have similar interests and things in common. It was a good remind that I can still be friends with these girls and I still am. Praying that I will be able to make new friends and to reconnect with other people and friends.

  5. Alisha on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 9:32 am

    yes a very humble n overwhelming YEs.cos I don’t know bout others but I am struggling with most of the details you mentioned. I just feel tired to keep on starting off each time.. I’ve even given up and I’ve also wondered if my friendship is helping anybody or more selfishly I’ve felt why can’t they come up and I also felt it seems I am the one with a lot of issues and Desperation’s in life while everybody else is fine easy way happy going..I have also feared that may be my friendship would make them more gloomy or my despairs would infect them.I don’t know whether I am able to express but I just want you to pray for me…as after all I stated I have a sense of immense loneliness locking myself in in my own …God bless. this post threw a light into issue in heart.thanku.

  6. Elaine on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    I am a reformed introvert. 🙂 I’ll explain. I can be very contented to be at home, making quilts, reading, decorating, knitting, etc.If I am not careful, I can also become very hermit-like. I am not a great talker, and in a group of talkers, I rarely speak. A few years ago, God, through His Word, showed me that I was not obeying the second part of the greatest commandment, and that was to love others. I realized that really, I was just being selfish with my time instead of being available and intentional about loving others. I began thinking of ways that I could encourage and bless others. So I began conversations to ladies in line at the grocery store; making comments about their cute sweater or cute baby, etc. I started a quilting class for home-schooled girls and their moms. My husband and I took an evangelism class and now we are part of a team from our church that goes to a local college campus and shares the Gospel. (I often think, “How in the world did I end up here???) I now love meeting with younger women, and trying to encourage them like Titus 2 tells us to. It took the Lord’s prompting and enabling to help me to step out of my comfort zone. Sometimes I still want to be a hermit, but the Lord won’t let me stay there long! 🙂 If we will look beyond ourselves, and see the bigger picture of God’s Kingdom and being His ambassadors in it, then we can truly and joyfully obey Him and love others. I still have a long way to go, but God is faithful and His strength is made perfect in my weakness. To Him be the glory. Proverbs 11:25 it says, “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”

    • Rebecca on Friday, July 17, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      Very good encouragement!

  7. Amy on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    On the flip side of the issue, I am an extrovert and very friendly upon meeting new people. I am an Italian who talks with her hands, can’t stand a lull in the conversation (so I keep it going even with the shyest people) and I think as a result I might tend to overwhelm others. Over the years I have learned to temper my enthusiasm and put myself “on the back burner” so I don’t interrupt or monopolize the conversation. Some women respond very well to me, others who are more introverted shy away but sometimes their timidity comes off as disinterest or even dislike in my eyes and that hurts. I guess there are two sides to the coin. It seems both the introvert and the extrovert can feel isolated upon meeting new people.

  8. Carolyn on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    You wrote my thoughts and my experiences exactly. I struggle with feeling like I’m the only one trying in friendships. I’ve felt like giving up because making lasting friendships is so difficult and time consuming. I have a large family with a wide age range of children so it’s difficult for me to find people that have that in common. When I go to playgroups for my little kids I feel like the old mom that doesn’t fit in and it’s difficult to volunteer for my big kids’ activities because I’ve got little ones. It’s like I’m in a social limbo! Sometimes I feel like it’s not worth the effort to make deep, lasting friendships anymore so I keep things casual and superficial. I know that I’m wrong about that and I’m just getting to a point where I’m trying to change my attitude and behaviors. Thank you for writing this!

  9. Elaine on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    You recognize them by the terror on their faces…and I head toward them, smile, laugh, ask their name, say, I may have to ask your name again again, but I keep asking! I have questions ready that can’tbe answered with one word, or just say, “tell me about….” You see, I’ve been in their shoes, I know how it feels. I have made some wonderful friends that way, sometimes I’ve just been the one to get them into a circle and acquainted with the rest, remained friends but not close. When I am the newby, eye contact, a warm smile, a comment about something they are wearing, something we all have in common, etc. and questions that can’t be answered with one word, and more questions. Get others talking about themselves, and you will never lack for conversations. Soon the opportunity will arise to say something about yourself, keep it short, followed by another question. Back and forth. As opportunity arises, include others. People will naturally come and go from the circle, and if the opportunity arises, I may follow someone to another circle. I used to be terrified to talk to others, but I realized, put the other person first…soon a circle will open…and with grace and salt, Col. 4:6, you will have the opportunity to be a friend! Blessings!

  10. Aprille on Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you for the post! 🙂
    I often want to give up trying to make new friends, it is so disheartening to feel like you have been rejected by someone, just because they don’t seem to have time for you.
    I have often felt like the person on the outside looking in. However, I have always been a loyal and faithful friend.

    I am no good at small talk, meaningful conversation has always been important to me.

    But, I should not give up and continue to seek meaningful relationships.
    We are HIS hands and feet and we need to remember the importance of who we are in Christ.

    Thank you! Aprille 🙂

  11. Michelle on Friday, July 10, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    There was a period of about 5 years when I would start to make close friends and then they would move away… like 4 friends in a row, just as we were getting close. I did finally give up. It wasn’t worth the effort since for me making friends is very difficult. Being an insecure extrovert is quite lonely. I desire the energy I get from being around others, but I am quite shy until I get to know you. I do realize I see my lack of friendships as a negative reflection of myself, but how can you not when it seems everyone around you have solid stable friendships and you do not? Anyhow, I have started trying to make connections with others again but it isnt easy…

  12. Jennifer Fleming on Friday, July 10, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Sara – thanks for dropping by and recommending these two articles – they’re timely encouragement and I have to say that if this were in book form, I’d have a dog-eared copy and a backup that I can give away.

  13. Lori on Friday, July 10, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I loved the article. I get what you’re saying, I really do. But……one must have a circle in order to keep it broken.. We moved to a small town TEN years ago where we knew no one. I have one friend met her a year ago. The circles here are tight. It’s extremely hard.

    • JB on Friday, July 17, 2015 at 7:53 am

      I completely agree. I live in a rural area where it’s just small town after small town connected by farm fields. If you haven’t lived in a small town since you were born, you are an outsider. So no matter what church or community group you attend, no matter which town you drive to, you always feel like you are intruding.

  14. Reva on Saturday, July 11, 2015 at 3:47 am

    I am very much an introvert… from birth. 😉 I find groups of people to be draining exhausting, cannot do small talk very well. I feel very strongly that Titus 2 is a direct mandate from God. I know friendships are important. I have had deep friendships in the past, though not currently. I wish it were easier.

  15. Teresa on Saturday, July 11, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Boy. These articles have been really good for me to read. I have hundreds of acquaintances, speak easily with people as a pastor’s wife, and am perceived as having lads of friends. I work full time, and my weekends are spent keeping life and home together for the family. I can’t remember the last time I saw a friend outside of church. Lost my best friend years ago to cancer. Even when she was living, I recall that she initiated all of our get-together. I’ve been lazy in this area. Don’t know where to fit friends into the mix, but time to figure that out.

  16. Dolly gray on Monday, July 13, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I enjoyed reading Part 1 and Part 2 of Keep Your Circle Broken: Ways to Say Hello. Throughly enjoyed it. I related with so much of it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  17. Cindy on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    I can relate very well to everyone’s comments. I too live in a rural area, I have made friends and they have all moved away. After a few times, I too gave up. For years now I have kept myself busy with kids sports and work. Now retiring, I know it will be a hard transition for me because of limited friends. I also am very quiet, can talk better one on one than in a group of people. Don’t know where to find the circles here. Thank you so much for your articles.

  18. JB on Friday, July 17, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Live in a rural area. My husband is a super introvert, and I am introverted in that I enjoy people in a public setting, but my home is my space, and I feel uncomfortable being in other people’s spaces. I am also not good at conversation. At all. I can never get beyond talking about the weather or asking how old your kids are. I NEED someone who is good at conversation for any sort of interaction to last longer than a pained couple of minutes.
    My husband and I have tried and tried a number of different churches, and every time felt unwelcome. When you have been attending a church for 6 months and you still have people hand you a a card for visitors and ask if it’s your first time here, it’s very frustrating. We would stand in the lobby, smile at people, say hello, and there is where the conversation dropped. We attended one church for two years and nobody, not once, invited us as a young couple with children to do anything. And with kids under age 3, I had nothing to invite anybody to either. Everyone lived in a different direction than us, and I would have had to pack up toddlers and drive 40 minutes to meet anybody to do *anything*. (There’s a real attention grabber “Hi, you don’t know me, but I was thinking you could drive an hour and a half to meet me at the zoo? No? OK, how about 45 minutes to have coffee at the Coney Island with whiny children?”) Also, in small towns, everybody has known everybody else from birth. If you haven’t been in that town from birth, and attended the same high school as a teenager, you are an outsider. Period.
    And I would love to get to know people in a smaller setting, but it seems EVERY church does “small groups” that meet at people’s homes nowadays instead of Sunday School at the church. It is REALLY hard for an introvert to just up and go to a complete strangers home and sit on their couch and use their bathroom just to have a Bible Study. It doesn’t feel cozy, it feels forced and alien and uncomfortable to me. I would rather someone point me to the coffee after church service ended and sit at a table with ten other people, and get a feel for who I would enjoy getting to know better after a few weeks. PLUS we have two small kids, and going to someones house in the evening is really hard when it is bedtime or close to it.
    I’m sorry, you opened a whole can of worms for me, plus painful memories of moving away from good friends as a teenager, and trying hard for years and years to make friends and feeling like a complete outsider. I eventually gave up. It was nice to be married and have a live in best friend and not have to try any more. I feel lonely as a stay at home mom, but it is way, way, way overwhelming to have to put forth a TON of effort only to come away with shallow acquaintances.

  19. Jen S on Monday, July 20, 2015 at 6:13 am

    we just started a new womens bible study last monday at church, its at night and a video series and just not what we normally do. i signed up happily, ive been at church for over 2 years now, so im lucky to know a lot of people. there were 50 people who signed up for the monday bible study, and i decided to sit at a table that there was only 1 woman sitting alone, who i didnt know. soon 4 others joined who i also didnt know. i was so happy to get to sit with new woman and get to know them and share about God and life. i still got to see all the my friends and women i knew afterwards. its almost very unlike me to sit with strangers, so i know it was part of Gods plan to not sit with the clique that i know. God likes us to reach out in the way that makes us uncomfortable. we should always encourage each other to reach out to others especially when we are out of our comfort zone. thanks for this 2 part article, i found it very encouraging, and i hope others do too.

  20. kim on Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I got to admit: I have the opposite problem, in a way, and my husband finally asked me to close off the circle. When I’m friendly, I attract needy people, and while on the one hand it’s good to be an encouragement, I have a large family of older kids, a husband that needs me, and things breaking constantly in my house.

    At one point, three friends all were clamoring for me, needing attention, validation, encouragement, and becoming upset that I was too busy to be as available to them as they thought i should be. I hadn’t done housework or my own laundry in two weeks. By their definition, I’m horribly selfish and too busy. But driving kids to jobs, running errands for hubby, and dealing with health issues.

    Since the day it all came to a head, I’ve been a hermit. I avoid anyone who looks lonely out of fear of having the life sucked out of me again. But, i also know it’s not pleasing to God. It’s hard to find a middle ground without someone feeling hurt that I’m not available enough. I admit i don’t need any more interaction; i get my fill from my family. I miss my projects, as they help me recharge, then feel guilty for it.

  21. terigonewalkabout on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    OK, so what if you are inviting people over… in fact, people drop hints they want to come over (not bragging, but I am a great cook). But NO ONE ever invites you to their home. What is the deal? Visiting at a church social is not a reciprocating.

  22. Crystal stoll on Monday, September 28, 2015 at 7:09 am

    Terigonewalkabout, I have it opposite. I get invited to homes (when a group is being invited) but no one comes to mine. I have tried to invite church people but it just never works out

  23. April Morgan on Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    If someone doesn’t seem interested in me at first or they seem not to say much, I ignore it. That’s right.
    I. Ignore. It.
    I play dumb. I don’t assume I know what their social cues mean because well, you know what happens when we assume. I am friendly anyway. I smile anyway. I send a little love their way anyway. Isn’t that called grace? Didn’t Jesus die for us anyway?
    If I don’t get it in return, I’ve learned to be ok with it. Who I am doesn’t change based on their impression of me anyway. I am who I am in Christ, nothing changes that.

  24. leah on Friday, July 8, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Love the comments! Esp the bona fide introverts. .. it’s torture going to strangers homes amongst strangers. Even though I make friends really easily I still hate intimate groups … the chit chat & personal questions, the judgement!!

  25. debbeisner on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 9:39 am

    These conversations are so timely for a couple of my daughters. Their grandmother, also a journalist, was a terrible introvert, but we never knew it because she was so gracious in asking others about themselves. One gracious but shy daughter recently told me, when I told her to ask questions, that she gets “stuck”. So thanks for your excellent suggestions.

    I especially appreciate your emphasis on Christ’s example because that helps me to take people for what they are, for where they are, for what they need, instead of getting them to know my needs or understand me. In God’s care for me sometimes there’s the pleasant surprise of the friendship being mutually edifying, and I meet a new best friend! One can never have too many best friends (unless one talks about herself too much).

  26. Olivia on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    The what and when questions are very helpful. I’ve been in the situation where good friends move and that closes options. This time we’re the ones moving and I’m leaving a sweet and loyal friend behind. We don’t know what awaits in our new place.

Leave a Comment