Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Nitty Gritty On Friendship

Over the years, some of my most important life lessons, besides as a parent, are those I learn as a friend. Actually, my friend lessons have come about long before any of my children were a twinkle. Last night I surrounded myself with neighbors and friends. I've come to realize that I am truly in an amazing place as far as friends are concerned. I used to have tumultuous seasons concerning friendships. But I think I've grown up a little. ;) And as I've grown, I've learned how to be a friend, and the kind of friends that stick with me.

Are you in the market for a friend? How about tweaking your end of the friendship bargain? These are my observations, in no particular order, (except maybe the first one):

Authenticity is key. I can tell when someone is treating me in a "bless your heart, you dear one" kind of way but really thinking--maybe subconsciously-- "I have no desire to know you."

Like KNOW me.

Like, really allow me to be me without a blank stare or a brush off, and if you're my friend then please act like yourself, too. I don't like feeling like I am the basket case someone has to put up with. Be a basket case with me every once in a while. ;)
 Honestly, I've tried to hide my garbage. I've tried to be all surface-y and a braggart and the mirror to that "perfect" person. But along with that comes a big two foot thick wall between us, and we both forget each other in the bustle of life. Soon, we're passing each other in the grocery store with merely a nod.
Life is too short to put on a show. Life, unfortunately, is not a fairytale, but it's a journey. And I have been blessed to have gathered friends along this road who are willing to stick with me through the ups and downs. Authenticity is not vulnerability...or actually, maybe it is. There might be risk that your heart is exposed, but there is great reward in sharing life with others. That's what God made us for--community. Community and friendship start with authenticity.

Reciprocate. It's the way to be! I have this friend. She poured words of affirmation, gifts, and time on me when I was at my worse. And when I picked myself up by the bootstraps, I was able to bless her in the same way. I have many friends who invite me, or I invite, to Girls Nights, playdates, coffee breaks. And all of these friends have busy seasons, just like me, but because we've reciprocated acts of friendship, we remain strong even during our absences.

I so appreciate this because I have had those friends who only seem to remember me when I force my way into their sights. I am not talking about busy friends. I am talking about the friendships where it's so heavy ended, you wonder if the person would even miss you if you left for good.

Sometimes, this happens because you really don't click, and that's okay.
Sometimes, this happens because you just have too many of the other kind of friends to invest...that's kind of okay.
Sometimes, you just sit there baffled wondering how you missed the sign that friendship was a one way street?

 Ever been there? I never want to put my friends to the test, but a natural, heartfelt reciprocation at some point in a friendship only secures it for the longterm.

Acceptance. This has been my hardest lesson. Because, I come from a long line of thinking "my friends have to be just like me," and I always struggled because I often found friends who were nothing like me! I was a conservative military kid who surrounded myself with thespians all through high school. Me, the squeaky clean, apprehensive young lady, and them, the out-of-the-box, artistic, bend the rules types. I truly think God put friends with different lifestyles and opinions in my path for a reason. It made me think. It made me critically discern exactly who I was, and what I believed. And the only way friendship on the long term can work, is if I accept my friends regardless of our differences, and I love them for who they are. I used to try and change their opinions...yikes. I can give you a handful of people who are no longer my friends because of our constant heated debates and misunderstandings. A true friend feels accepted and worthy in my eyes. Doesn't mean I have to agree with them, and we can discuss that, but the friendship is without strain or worry because of an underlying acceptance.

Above all else (guess this should have been at the top), Grace is best. I can only manage my own actions, words, and preferences. If I start taking apart someone else's actions, words, and preferences and devaluing them as a friend because of it, then I probably don't deserve to be their friend! Do you have any observations on the best ingredients for a lifetime of friendships?

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