All my stats here on Perfection Road indicate the most popular topics are Friendship and Depression/Anxiety. My friend Kim agreed to write today’s blog, so I threw out those topics as possible choices. I hoped she would choose friendship because she is truly an expert in that area. She didn’t let me down.
Why not act on Kim’s words today by skipping the text messages, and calling a friend or two? Just hearing one another’s voices during this time of social distancing will make you both feel better. Happy Tuesday!
You’ve Got a Friend
Do you recall Carol King’s song “You’ve Got a Friend”? Let me spark your memory.
“When you’re down and troubled and you need some loving care, and nothing, nothing is going right. Close your eyes and think of me, and soon I will be there to brighten up even your darkest night. You just call out my name and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running to see you again.”
The lyrics spark this question: Which friend could you call at 3 am, confident she would gladly respond to your request for help? Who could you rouse out of bed, knowing her eyes were asleep, but her heart was wide awake?
Maybe it’s the friend who knows how you take your coffee or could order for you in at a restaurant? Perhaps, it’s the one who’s seen your ugly cry, the one you can drop-in on, or the one who drops everything when you’re in a desperate situation and need to talk through things?
Do you have a friend like that? Better still, and more importantly, are you that kind of friend? Do you have deep, authentic relationships? If you’ve been afraid to venture into the arena of closer friendships, you may want to consider these suggestions:
1) Be willing to open your heart and invite the person to look around and see the real you.
It takes practice, trial and error, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes to become authentic. But please remember, authenticity only works with safe people we trust. By learning to be real we resist striving to become someone we’re not. When a person thinks we are perfect, it’s awfully hard to develop a deep relationship. Casual friends are good, but if you want more intimate relationships, open your heart for exploratory surgery. Vulnerability creates connection.
2) Work at understanding and accepting the other person
Being understood is one of our deepest needs. We don’t need to know we’re right as much as we need to know someone understands how we feel or what our “reality” is. When we feel a certain way, we need to know that others validate our experience. We want them to understand how it is for us. They want that from us as well.
Much of the time, talking through things doesn’t solve the issue or change the circumstances, but it does help to get things out in the open. Powerful healing happens in our minds when we know someone listened.
3) Work at being honest with each other
What a gift to have someone who will be honest with you. I came across the following questions by two psychologists, Henry Cloud and John Townsend. These questions can help create healthier friendships. Call a friend, and try swapping answers to these:
- What do you see in my life that encourages you?
- What do you see in my life you would caution me about?
- What else would you like to say?
You may be hesitant to ask or answer these questions, but they help you know where the relationship stands? They make you better! Work at being upfront and honest with each other.
4) Make time for your friends
Would you agree that we make time for what’s important? There are twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week. If you want to develop healthy relationships, you have to spend some of that time.
I pray that God is most important in your life, and your spiritual well-being testifies to your relationship with Him. It takes time and desire to not only nurture our relationship with Him, but also the other relationships in our lives.
My family time is devoted to deepening my relationships with my husband, parents, children, and grandchildren – and that takes lots of time. However, time building deeper relationships with friends must fit into our calendars.
For me, thoughts and feelings are best exchanged when sitting across the table from a friend, being fully engaged, eyes connected, ears attuned, and hearts wide open. I am learning I don’t have to have all the answers or know exactly what to say. I’m there to share as well as listen. I don’t need to quote scripture, give advice, judge, or condemn. We’re all in this together.
In today’s economy, giving someone your time is worth more than money can buy. Time is valuable, and we are all spread thin in a million ways.
I’ve been on the receiving end of friends giving their precious time – more times than I can count. I’ll never forget we were in the process of moving and were running out of time to get our old house cleaned out and moved into the new house. A dear friend dropped what she was doing and came to help clean my nasty house. She probably didn’t have the time, but she came anyway. Another time I was out of town and learned my younger brother had just passed away. By the time I arrived at home that brisk, southern football Saturday, our house was filled with friends to comfort us. It didn’t matter that their favorite collegiate team was playing on TV.
Only time can create a friend who always seems to know when things aren’t right, who knows what to say, knows when to be quiet, and who shows up at just the right time. It takes time for a friend to see your ugly cry, to know when you aren’t telling the truth, to know when you’re being prideful, to call you on it, and still love you anyway. A friend like that challenges me, more than I challenge myself, to become more of who God planned me to be.
Encouragement We All Need
During a very hard time, a friend sent me a song by Sidewalk Prophets that summarizes what I’ve tried to say:
“Three in the morning and I’m still awake, so I picked up a pen and a page. And I started writing just what I’d say if we were face to face.
I’d tell you just what you mean to me, tell you these simple truths:
Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope,
You’re going to do great things. I already know.
God’s got His hand on you so, don’t live life in fear.
Forgive and forget, but don’t forget why you’re here,
Take your time and pray. These are the words I would say.”
True friendship is sacred and important. It happens as we drop to a deeper level and cross over into the broken, fragile parts of ourselves. We have to give up our need to be perceived as perfect and thinking we have the ability to control what other people think of us. We must overcome the fear of them leaving if they see the depths of who we really are. Genuine friendship risks love. If we can control it, manage it and manufacture it, then it’s not genuine. But if it’s real love, expressed through genuine friendship, it’s still a little scary around the edges, but nothing else compares with it.
We can learn to be a better friend by learning from our best friend Jesus. He paid the ultimate sacrifice, demonstrating genuine love by dying to self so that we might live. We may not have to die for one another, but we must die to ourselves as we practice sacrificial love by making time, listening, encouraging, and being there for others. When we grasp that life is not about us, we can embrace the love we’ve been shown, and expect nothing in return! That’s when we can graciously answer that 3 am call when it comes, day or night, with a wide-awake heart and eyes that see.
John 15:12-13 “This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.”
In Case You Want to Listen