Saturday, September 04, 2010

To Be A Friend

I was talking with a friend the other day and she was talking to me about friendships. She gave me some very interesting feedback about my approach to friends. I love seeing myself through someone else's eye. After telling me a bit about what she noticed about me concerning friendship she asked me how I see/view friendships in my life. I felt like sharing a bit about what I told her here.

To me friendship is patient, kind, not puffed up, not rushed, never forced, and always giving. There is something so incredible about the perfect timing of an unexpected but dearly needed friend. To be a friend takes work (like most things worth doing in life). Friends are your family when you can't have yours. Friends are the keepers of your laughter and tears. They are the ones who see you at your best and worst. They love you where you are at and sometimes they love you into becoming better. They inspire you to explore new ideas, places, and things. They warn you of danger, keep you balanced, and at times let you know when you are completely wrong. They are your cheer leaders, your coach, your fan, and your critic. They give you wings to fly and blow wind in your sails!

Sometimes friends can take advantage of you. Sometimes you have to let certain friends go. Sometimes friends have the ability to hurt you the most because they know you well and know what buttons to push. Sometimes friendships fade organically and other times you have to set a boundary.

It has never been hard for me to make friends in my life. I love people! I love discovering new cultures, new ideas, new places, and new stories. Some of my favorite moments in life are in meeting new people who I know are destined to become some of my closest friends. It's the moments on the brink of new discovery and excitement that I treasure as much as the friends that I have held dear to me for years!

I had never really thought a lot about friendships, or at least the way I make and keep friends, until I was asked the other day. Here are some of my ideas:

(1) First love God, then love yourself, and then love others. It doesn't work any other way! Because I don't feel the need to compare, judge, or be catty, I am open to so many people. I thrive on diversity and people telling their story. When you love yourself first then you have the ability to love others!

(2) Maintaining friendships takes patience. In my friendships I know that people are busy. I also know that if they need me in their life they will let me know (or I will simply ask them). So it doesn't help to be demanding, bug them if they don't return my calls/texts, or even to feel discouraged if I don't hear from them for a while. They most likely have someone else in their lives they are talking to or turning to instead of me. This is okay with me because in due time they will come around. Being a patient friend is important and in the end friends know they can return to your listening ears and smiling heart!

(3) There is no reason for jealously in friendships. I may be strange but I truly don't understand much about jealously. I don't understand this emotion. In friendships people give or their time freely, and out of love, so each interaction is a choice and a gift. When someone chooses to spend time with another it doesn't take away from you or your friendship. In fact it just may deepen and expand your friendship with them.

(4) Friendship is not selfish. It is like other transactions You give and receive or you receive and then give. Either way both are very important and when one side of the transaction fails the enter friendship is in jeopardy. Toxic friendships are ones where someone is always dumping on the other or when someone is needy and only thinking of themselves. Healthy friendships thrive on wanting to give to each other just because. The very act of giving of ones times, talents, etc is enough!

(5) Friendship is all about timing! I think people underestimate this key piece of friendship. Some friendships are only meant for a moment in time while other friendships are meant to last forever. If you only seek forever friends you miss out on so many wonderful experiences, stories, adventures, and so forth. If you only seek out friends in the moment then miss out on the depth of memories, shared heartache, and watching someone change right in front of your eyes. Both kinds of friendships are important!

(6) Validation is key to a great friendship! It has been confirmed to me time and time again that validation is so important in any kind of relationship! It's important in friendship to give sincere and specific compliments or validation. It's important to let your friends know how you feel about them. When friends have confidence in each other they really be there for each other no matter what happens in their lives.

(7) It's all about the little things! Like most things in life it's the little things that really matter in the end. Little texts to say you care go a long way. Calling someone to wish them well, talk about their day, or just to say you're thinking of them really do matter. The more you listen to your friend the more you understand them and their wishes, desires, dreams. This makes it easier to validate them. It shouldn't be too hard to give a gift that matters, write a letter that is genuine, or make time in your busy schedule to spend with them. Theses little pieces of validation with make or break a friendship.

I'm sure there is more but for now that will suffice! I am so grateful for the many wonderful friends that I have. I am grateful for what each of them taught and continue to teach me today!

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