Whether it be with a significant other, a childhood friend or the other moms at the park; having a thriving friendship takes effort on our part. Trust me, you won’t just stumble upon a deep, intimate, fun, growing relationship… you will work at it. I have some amazing friends who I “do life” with and I’ll tell you these are the characteristics I try to model and also I look for in a friend.
Tell me if I have a boogie in my nose…
or my skirt is tucked into my underwear, or I have chia seeds from my smoothy in my teeth, or I walk out of the bathroom with toilet paper on my shoe…I mean seriously. I literally just had a friend point out a boogie in my nose the other day. At first I was embarrassed but then I beamed with pride at my brave friend. Who else is gonna tell me? A friend tells!
Be vulnerable and honest about what’s going on with you…
Friendships are the best when we have a place to express our heart, seek wisdom and understanding from someone who knows us so well and have the occasional melt down in front of. (No lie, I once took a pilates class with a new acquaintance to get to know each other and broke down in the middle of class crying my eyes out about something going on in my life. It’s no wonder we are now besties). Intimacy breeds intimacy. The more open you are the deeper the bond. Don’t make me pry it out of you! It’s not fun to be open and transparent only to receive shallow and surface.
Tell me what you need…
What kind of friend are you? Do you need lots of one on one time or can we hang with other groups of people? Do you just love talking on the phone or can I text you with funny emoji? Are you sensitive and don’t like to be teased? Just be open about your expectations of this friendship. Now just because you have an expectation doesn’t mean I’m going to meet all those desires. That’s the beauty of communicating what you expect, then the other person can communicate the reality of what they can give. I had a friend ask if we could hang out once a week. I mean, I sometimes don’t see my own husband once a week, so for me this wasn’t something I could live up to. However, knowing she placed a high value on weekly connection I was able to compromise and make sure to call or send a text to catch up weekly.
Say something when I’ve hurt you…
I have had several occasions when someone has said to me, “one year ago you really hurt my feelings and I’ve been mad (and put up distance between us) for a long time”…I’m sorry, what? A whole year ago and you are just telling me now? Look, I get that we like to talk ourselves out of dealing with conflict but in friendship there is no place for that. If I hurt you (intentional or not) you gotta say something. Un-dealt with hurt that starts out like a small splinter only festers into an infected wound when not confronted. Let’s say I hurt your feelings when I cancelled plans last minute. You’re annoyed but don’t say anything… then it happens again (maybe for good reasons) but now you start tallying the offense. You fester on the hurt you feel and it begins to taint everything you think about me. You now see me through a lens of hurt and at this point I can’t do anything right in your eyes. You either blow up at me with big statements like, “You ALWAYS cancel on me… You NEVER take in to consideration my time…You are a selfish hag!” or you put up walls and avoid me at all cost. Both scenarios are hurtful and often very damaging to a friendship. The friendships that are the strongest and most trusted are the ones that deal with conflict swiftly with love and forgiveness.
Side note: give yourself a 48 hour window to deal with conflict. That way you have time to calm down, pray and gather your thoughts. Don’t wait much longer than that or you’ll chicken out!
with a scripture that spoke to you, let me know you are praying for me, remind me of TRUTH when I start believing a lie. I can’t tell you how filled up I get when I receive a text (or gasp, a letter in the mail!) with encouraging words. When a friend tells me they are praying for me, shoot! Watch out world! To know you got a friend in your corner who is for you, believing in you and even more importantly takes time to encourage you- that’s gold! I believe we ‘think’ encouraging things all the time “Wow, has she lost weight? She looks great...”, “They are doing a great job parenting...”, “I am so proud of them...” “Oh her situation reminds me of this scripture verse...”… but we sometimes just stop there. Take it to the next level and SAY it, type it, text it, send it by carrier pigeon. Proverbs 16:24 says it best, “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Side note: Try this with your spouse! Send a random text in the middle of the day saying you are thinking about them and praying for them (and even better spend time in prayer and send them some of your thoughts). How excited would YOU be if you got that text from them?
These aren’t just what I look for in a friend but what I try to give. I’ve learned over the years that friendship (whether to your spouse or friend) is a relationship that takes work and nurture. You don’t just stumble upon good friendship- you fight for it.
"You don’t just stumble upon good friendship- you fight for it."