Redefining Community & Friendships When Faced With The Unexpected ft. Emma Nadler - Jen Hatmaker

Redefining Community & Friendships When Faced With The Unexpected ft. Emma Nadler

Episode 06

As we close in on the end of our Community and Friendships series, we’re reflecting on the great conversations we’ve had toward building relationships in our lives. And this week’s convo puts the cherry on top as we discuss our friends as “chosen family” and the shape that our friendship and communities take when we are in a place where we need extra support. Our guest this week, Emma Nadler, is a therapist, author and speaker who is doing valuable work in helping people build deeper relationships. Emma knows firsthand what it means to rely on her circle in ways she never thought she would, when her daughter was diagnosed with a DNA disorder, shifting the life she knew, and navigating the special care, multiple hospital stays, and more than full-time parenting her daughter needs. By leaning on her community and being brave enough to ask for help (when sometimes the tendency is to act like we’ve got it all under control). Emma’s goal is to show us how we can look beyond preconceived notions about what it means to be valued and to belong, and leads us toward building a world where thriving in community is possible for every single person. 

Emma and Jen touch on: 

  • What it looks like when our “family” looks different than expected in the context of friendships and our communities
  • How to understand and learn to tolerate our emotions when it comes to interacting with friends and community and how to find meaning in everything—good and bad
  • Practical steps on fostering really authentic connections, asking for help, and creating inclusive spaces
  • The power of being direct when reaching out to connect with new people, or friends you’ve drifted from, to foster a deeper relationship 

There’s so much value in learning how to meaningfully connect with others and create communities and friendships that celebrate our joyful times and anchor us at difficult times.


Episode Transcript

Hey, everybody. Jen Hatmaker here, your host of the For the Love Podcast. You guys, welcome to the show. A little bit of tears, and a little bit of cheers because today we’re wrapping up our For the Love of Community and Friendship series, which I have genuinely loved. This was a packed series of goodness. If you have missed a single episode in the series, I’m telling you, go back and get ’em, go back and pick ’em up. It’s been so hopeful and inspiring and useful and actually universal. Speaking of that, let’s talk about friends for a second. Essentially the stuff of life, at least to me, no matter who you are, whether you like a lot of friends, big groups, big quantity, or you like more quality. It doesn’t really matter.

The people in our lives have such a profound effect on our well-being, our friends and our communities, and our families. The way that this shifts and changes sometimes in life, particularly when something goes sideways or you end up in an unexpected place in your life, all of a sudden you really have to evaluate what are my connections and who is in my world? What have I done to strengthen those bonds? That’s when the rubber really meets the road and at that point, you are really hoping that you have created some sort of chosen family right around you. 

Today I wanna talk a little bit about the kind of changing landscape of family in the context of friendships and our communities and what it looks like when our family looks different from the folks around us or different from what we expected or different from what we used to have. That can take on a million different shapes. Then figuring out where my community fits into a life of flourishing no matter what the configuration is or what sort of hard space you’re personally navigating. 

We have such a good guide for this conversation today. This is my first time talking to her in a live setting and she’s effervescent and smart, and I was just so drawn to her. We have the very remarkable Emma Nadler today. Emma is a psychotherapist and she’s an author and speaker. She’s an advocate for inclusive and diverse relationships, which we’re gonna talk about. In her private practice, she does this valuable work of helping people understand and learn to tolerate their emotions and find meaning in everything good and bad, and build deeper relationships.

She has been fearlessly challenging societal norms and working to reshape our understanding of what it means and what it looks like to create meaningful connections and support systems. Not only does she obviously bring her credentials to the table, but a wealth of personal experience. If you’re not already familiar with Emma check out her memoir, which is called The Unlikely Village of Eden. It’s funny and tender and also hopeful and learning. It’s about learning to adapt and accept things when life doesn’t go as planned. Who doesn’t relate to that? It’s so good. You’re gonna just adore her. I’m proud of her resilience and her wisdom. We’re gonna talk about practical steps here on both fostering really authentic connections, asking for help, and creating inclusive spaces which she’s got a really interesting take on.

She has a daughter with a really rare genetic condition. It wasn’t of course, what she expected, and it’s what she has and it’s changed the landscape of both her family and her community. We’re gonna place that in the story. I think that her insights are gonna inspire you. I think they’re gonna challenge us all to look beyond maybe our preconceived notions and actively work toward building a world where belonging is more than possible for every one of us. Let’s jump in. You’re gonna love her and you’re gonna love this conversation. I hope you enjoy this episode with the wonderful Emma Nadler.





The Unlikely Village of Eden
by Emma Nadler

Feed These People
by Jen Hatmaker

Dr. Robert Waldinger’s Harvard Second Generation Study

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