The Friendship Series: Ways to Kill a Friendship

Friends
We’re all on a journey when it comes to friend-ing. But if there are habits that make a good friend, there are also traits that make a not-so-good friend. Overlooking more obvious traits (serial killing, constant lying, eating the last piece of dark chocolate, etc.), there are subtle characteristics that hurt. Speaking from my experience, these include:

1. Not Showing Up. This seems like a given, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had relationships severely damaged by lack of dependability. I totally understand that life happens, kids get sick, your car breaks down, yada yada. But as much as you can help it, as often as you can help it, show up when you say you’ll be there. Start habitually canceling and your friendships are sure to erode quicker than sandstone in a desert storm.

2. Talking Too Much. Friends want to hear about you. They really do. But after 45 minutes of listening to you talk non-stop about your family’s drama, your latest project, your fav show, and YOU, they want a turn, too. Just because your friend is politely nodding and smiling while you ramble, don’t assume that they have nothing to share. They might just be too polite to cut you off- or they might feel overwhelmed by all the jibber-jabber. Especially if they’re an introvert- or the quiet type. Which leads me to the next trait…

3. Not Knowing (Or Caring To Know) Your Friend’s Personality. You might not know their Myers-Briggs breakdown, but generally try to know your friend’s tendencies. Are they likely to speak up and offer their thoughts? Or do they need some gentle prodding, some skillful questioning to get them to open up? I LOVE people who ask good questions. Some people are so skillful at getting to the heart of the matter right away, asking just the right questions. Learn how to be one of those people.

4. Lack of Reciprocation. Some of the deepest friendship wounds come from lack of reciprocation. We’re all swamped, all tired, all everything. I get it. But it starts to cut into our friend’s soul when we don’t reciprocate. If you really do like your friend and want to keep being friends, then maybe it’s your turn to initiate. Instead of waiting for them to ask you out again, why not invite them? Why not ask them over? It hurts to feel that you’re not pursue-worthy.

5. Texting While I’m Sharing. This might just be a pet peeve of mine, but argh! Seriously? I finally get a chance to share my heart and then you start texting while I talk? Seriously?!? (Sorry- just had to include this one… :) ) I’d rather you just not show up. ;)

Whew. Glad this list is done. My blood pressure was starting to rise…

Until next time!

E

The Friendship Series: A Good Friend

A Good Friend
Halfway through our exploration of friendship, we finally land on the topic for which I have been eagerly waiting. A Good Friend. Or rather, how to be a good friend.

There are as many ways to be a good friend as there are people. In the exchange of friendship, each individual has unique gifts only they can offer. This uniqueness opens up exciting worlds of creativity in our friendship-ing. We’ll discuss some of these exciting elements more in just a bit, but for now, let’s start by focusing on some of the universal traits that make a good friend:

1. Seeing through Christ’s eyes. How we see people colors our every interaction with them. If we see our friends as deeply valuable, as Christ seems them, we will nurture and steward well our relationships. However, if we don’t take this view, we can subconsciously see people as existing for our benefit, disposable the moment we no longer need them. We must ask God to change our perspective; then we can properly start our friendship journey.

2. Being kind. Oh, how far kindness can go! A soft word when we want to speak roughly, consideration for a friend’s feelings, a gesture of goodness- these can go so far in a world of weariness and aggression.

3. Honoring. When we see others through Christ’s eyes, we honor them- in thought, in word, in deed. Rather than dishing out all the dirt on someone, we make them shine before others. We choose to bless instead of curse, to build up instead of tear down, to pray instead of gossip. 

4. Being thoughtful. Being thoughtful means thinking about someone until you are full of thoughts towards them. Deep, I know. ;) But when we really stop to consider this, it transforms how we meet others in friendship. When we are thinking about others, we think about their likes and dislikes, things that would bless them, and ways we can encourage them. Instead of cramming all sorts of confetti into our friendships and hoping that something lands, we can thoughtfully, skillfully select sure ways to bless our friends.

5. Listening. Oh, how crucial yet how neglected is listening. Poor listening- it gets such a bad wrap! “I have to sit here and shut my mouth and concentrate, concentrate, concentrate to what so-and-so is saying and I’m tired and….”- and so our thoughts on listening go, right? :) But it doesn’t have to be this way. So often there are rich depths of deep understanding waiting if we just listen, linger, and hush. God delights in a listening ear (see Proverbs) and He will help us learn to listen if we ask for His help.

6. Praying. Praying for our friends is one of the best ways we can love them. I have a friend who, without fail, always asks me at the close of our conversations what she can be praying for on my behalf. Knowing that she cares enough for me to bring my concerns before the Father speaks of the value she places on me. What an eternal gift.

And finally:

7. Getting creative. Returning to where we started our discussion, it’s good to remember that we can have fun in our friendship-ing. Out of our unique giftings and passions, we can creatively bless our friends in ways they won’t soon forget. Writers can pen a note or poem, artists can paint a picture, the handy can help around the house or yard, the kid-friendly can give the gift of babysitting, the cooks can bake a batch of cupcakes, etc…. There are so many witty and merry ways we can let our friends know we love them! Why not brainstorm some today? :)

The Friendship Series: Lonely No More

Lonely No More
Lonely.

The saddest word in the English language. And yet a companion for so many.

We can be lonely in crowds, we can be lonely at home, we can be lonely with a lover, we can be lonely alone.

There are few things as empty as feeling unknown, feeling unseen. That’s really the heart of the matter, isn’t it? It’s not about being with someone or being alone. Just as we can be quite lonely in a crowd, we can also be quite cozy on our own. True loneliness goes much deeper. True loneliness is feeling alone.

Coffee dates and a jam-packed calendar don’t equal union. True friendship, the antidote for loneliness, goes beneath the surface. It is the intermingling of ideas and minds, feelings and hearts, hopes and empathies.

True friendship is possible, within our reach. But it requires our active regard.

Today, let’s take a chance. Let’s listen a moment longer that we usually do, ask one more question that we usually ask, and take one step closer than we’d usually dare, clinging to this promise:

“God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity…” (New King James Version, Psalm 68:6)

Amen.

The Friendship Series: A Tiny Taste


Where does friendship start? This thing of great cost and even richer dividends- where does it begin?

With God.
Every gift starts with God.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (New King James Version, James 1:17)

This good gift, this sweet gift, comes down from our Father above. Just like jazz music and mountains, cheesecake and sweet baby cheeks, sunsets and orchestras, hearts to love and hands to hold.

And in our longing for relationship, we see our Father’s longing for relationship.

The Great Creator made us one day, we went astray, and He swooped down, stooped down to rescue us. All because He wants to know us. He wants to be with us. For the rest of eternity.

There is no friendship like our God’s. But through earthly friendships, He gives a tiny taste of what awaits us in Him: the richest of fellowship feasts. Amen.

The Friendship Series: Togetherness


Thanks for joining me as we set out to explore the topic of friendship, starting with Tuesday’s “Introduction” to the series. Make sure to visit my homepage and subscribe for future posts via email so that you don’t miss a moment!

*     *     *     *     *

What is friendship? Friendship is a phone call and email, a coffee date and play date, a birthday party and moving party. It’s a touchstone along our busy lives, something to break up the mundane. But it’s more than an event, more than another appointment to keep.

True friendship is a steady connection- of our schedules, our lives, our hearts. It’s finding that we are of the same spirit and pursuing togetherness.

I am in grade-school when it comes to the topic of togetherness. But it seems to me that true togetherness, true friendship, requires a few things:

1. Choosing. In a world filled with hundreds of potential friendships, we must say no to many friendships in order to properly invest in a few friendships. Haven’t we had enough of the ever-widening but never-deepening circle of “friends”? This might feel hard to bear but joy is found in the narrowing.

2. Christ. True friendship is healthy. Otherwise it is not friendship; it is codependency. And the only way to be healthy is first to have Christ heal our depraved, craving, broken hearts. Then we can properly meet our friends- not with strangling, unrealistic demands, but with hearts ready to share in life’s joys and sorrows together.

3. Understanding the spectrum of relationship. There are many different levels of relationship- the most distant being strangers and the most intimate being marriage partners. Every other relationship we’ll ever have falls somewhere along this spectrum. Billions of people are strangers to us, perhaps a couple hundred are distant acquaintances, a hundred are casual acquaintances, fifty or so we might term “friends”, a dozen are close friends, and maybe 2 or 3 are intimate friends. It’s ok if not everyone makes the 2-3 intimate or dozen close friends cut. Some people are just acquaintances and that’s alright. Again, this comes down to choosing less so that our choices can go deeper. Also, it’s important to note that an individual relationship may shift along the spectrum throughout various seasons of life.

4. Understanding the cost of friendship. Friendship is a tremendous blessing. It’s like a warm mug of honeyed-tea, bringing sweetness to our lives. A gift. But this gift is two-dimensional. It requires something from us:

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (New King James Version, John 15:12-13)

Real friendship is sacrificial. It requires the sacrifice of our pride, our time, our wants, our “right” to be offended, and so much more. It requires the very laying down of our lives- just as Christ laid down His life for us.

These marks of friendship are by no means exhaustive. But they’re a start. Stay tuned for next time’s post when we focus on the origin of friendship. Until then!