The percentages are hard to know for sure, but research indicates that 50 percent or more of all women feel lonely.
Dr. Joneal Kirby points to several reasons why those numbers are so high. For one, social media has caused an increase in superficial relationships. Some women have dozens of friends on Facebook, but very few with whom they can talk face-to-face. They don’t meet for coffee with anyone, and they have no one with whom they can get beneath the surface, share their hearts, and “do life.”
Women are also busier than ever. The majority work outside the home 30 to 50 hours a week. Disconnection has impacted our churches, too. We’ve over-segregated our congregations. Young marrieds rarely interact with seniors. Singles share activities separately from young family groups. “Ages and stages” ministry can help us focus our ministries, but too much division creates isolation.
One of the answers to women’s loneliness, says Dr. Kirby, is women mentoring women. Mentoring may sound lofty or intimidating to some ladies, but it shouldn’t. Whether you’re being intentional or not, you’re influencing people already with your behavior, with your attitude, and with your speech.
Mentoring is more intentional, but authenticity is key. That’s what most women are looking for in a relationship. It doesn’t matter your personality type or your skill set, and you don’t need special qualifications spiritually. Whether you’re a fresh-out-of-the-baptismal-water Christian or someone who’s walked this road for 50 years, a willingness to “be real” is what mentoring is all about.
Many women don’t know where to go to find deep and meaningful relationships with another woman. Dr. Joneal Kirby is our special guest on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “The Value of Mentoring Women.” She’s an author, speaker, radio host, and marriage and family therapist. She’s also the aunt of Korie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame.
She has a passion for reaching women who feel lonely or isolated. She’ll share more about this heart cry of many women to have a friend, to know that someone cares about them. When a woman is engaged in mentoring and is linked in friendship to other women, her marriage will tend to work better, her parenting will tend to go better, her life will tend to work better.
Dr. Kirby started a church-based mentoring ministry for women more than a decade ago and has been training women since then to create similar ministries. Her book “Heartfelt: A Woman’s Guide to Creating Meaningful Friendships” is the basis for our conversation.