We each experience many relationships in life, some of them we cannot choose – our parents, our children, our co-workers, etc.; and yet some, like our friendships, we choose to participate in. I would argue that this, and only this, is what differs most when considering friendships and what it takes to gain and maintain great ones. Friendships, like all relationships, require the very best in us to thrive.
I feel I am an expert on Friendship. I honestly believe it’s one of the gifts God gave me, to be a friend, which to me means to “love on” others. Deciding to be a friend is the first major thing I can remember myself CHOOSING to do in life. I have sought after friendships, I have endured failing friendships, I have melted into terrible sadness as friends broke my heart, and I have sobbed as friendships have ended. I have been a friend longer than I can remember being anything else in my life.
I often tell people “becoming friends with someone, in a lot of ways, is like falling in love”. It’s exciting in the beginning, you may experience bumps along the way as you build a stronger connection, and eventually you find that sweet spot of comfort, stability, and trust that leaves your very soul forever changed. Friendships, often like lovers, are those you CHOOSE to have in your life; and therefore, it’s important to CHOOSE THEM WISELY (topic for another article). You see, I don’t just hap upon friends, I decide to be friends with someone and then I go all in (hell, my mother even chose one of my friends…praise God for that). I’m not a “big toe in the water first” kind of girl…nah, ain’t nobody got time for that! I’m a “jump in head first, life is too short to waste time” kind of girl. And what I love most about friendship is that it has afforded me the opportunity to fall in love over and over again and experience all that comes with it.
So here I land with the 3 of the top 5 things I have learned along the way, the things I believe all friendships need to thrive and survive.
#1: Compassion – Everyone wants to be heard and feel deeply cared for, however there is not necessarily a “one size fits all” approach to this. Be willing to give your friends what they need. Say nothing when it’s best to simply listen. Offer your honest opinion, when solicited. Please try to NOT JUDGE them. Friendship should provide a safe place in which we can be vulnerable; really be who we are. There will be situations where you may not agree and some that you may not even understand. Relax. That’s completely normal.
#2: Expect Growth – People change over time. The essence of who we truly are will stay but life will take us through some experiences that will change us forever. Your friendships will be tested over time. Boyfriends, girlfriends, bad decisions, hardships, marriage, babies, jobs, graduations…and all that happens in between will force us to grow and change. Love your friends through it all; even if something is only for the moment or lasts a year, the essence of your friendship is still there.
#3: Be open to the possibilities – Not all friendships come in the same package. You may have known the person your entire life or you may not have met the person until college; some friendships are a sweet surprise. Today I am friends with someone who didn’t like me in the past, I am friends with someone I didn’t like in the past, and I am friends with someone I decided I would not be friends with when I met her. I can only laugh now because each and every one of them is a unique and wonderful blessing that humbles my spirit when I think about what my life would be like without them. Learn to be open, open your heart, open your mind…don’t shut yourself off to the possibilities of friendships that are out there for you.
What are your thoughts? I have more to share, so please stop by the house tomorrow to check out my last 2 lessons!
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