Happy Friday friends!
Am I ever excited to introduce today’s post to you.
When Carla approached me to do a guest post, I had no idea that her post would bless and inspire me in the way that it did. Relationships are a challenge for me and it takes a lot of effort to break out of my comfort zone in order to connect with others.
Carla’s post resonated with me and I pray that it will bless you too. So without further ado, here’s Carla from At The Crossroads.
Why Do We Need Friends? Are They Really Important?
“So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11b (The Message)
It started back in the second grade when Katie asked me to eat lunch with her. Gladly I accepted. Later at recess, Lisa also asked me to eat lunch with her and I readily accepted her invitation thinking I was so popular to have two friends to eat lunch with that day! I am sure many of you can already guess how this story ends, but I was clueless. When I got to the school cafeteria, eager to eat with both Katie and Lisa, what I found instead were two angry girls and a place all by myself at the lunch table. Elementary school did not go much better after that lunch encounter as I struggled to learn the “rules” of friendship among my peers.
I navigated middle school and high school easier by amassing a lot of acquaintances but not many true, close friends. My goal was to be liked by everyone and avoid confrontation. I guarded my heart and feelings and moved on quickly from hurt and disappointment. For a long time, I wondered if true friendship was even possible or worth the effort. It was not until college that I began to learn what it meant to find a kindred spirit. And it was only after having my children that I acknowledged my need for friends and actively pursued those relationships.
Maybe your friendship journey looks similar and maybe is it is entirely different, but what I finally realized is that I do need friends.
God designed me, as a woman, to function within the context of relationships and that includes friendships with other women.
Think back to Eve in the book of Genesis. She was made for someone else. Connection is built into our DNA. We are designed with a need to connect.
So how do we do this? What are the building blocks of healthy and authentic friendships?What are the building blocks of healthy and authentic friendships? A guest post by @Carla_Gasser Click To Tweet
BUILDING BLOCK #1: CONNECTION
You may acknowledge that you need friends, but may wonder how to connect with other women. Here are some simple ideas:
1- INITIATE CONTACT
It really goes back to what we did when we were little girls. “Can Michelle come out and play?” is something we asked without any hesitation or insecurity.
But as we grew older, it became harder and harder to do this. Why? Busyness, fear of rejection, and our own preconceived ideas.
Bottom line: You need to take a risk and ask someone!
Join a mom’s group, call someone to meet you at the park with the kids, or ask a neighbor to go for a walk.
2- IDENTIFY OBSTACLES
If you feel you are having trouble making these kinds of connections, ask yourself why.
Season of life changes: Having a new baby, sending kids to school, moving to new house, going back to work/leaving work, having a special needs child are major life transitions that can leave you with little time and energy for friends. Yet, this is the time you need them the most!
Past hurts/experiences: Maybe women have hurt or betrayed you, you have experienced unsafe friendships, or friends have moved away or moved on to other relationships.
Making real connections will always involve, time, risk, and transparency.
Have you ever used one of the following excuses?
“I am not an outgoing person.”
“I don’t need friends…I have my family.”
“Making friends is not easy for me.”
“I like to stick with my own group.”
Keep an open door and an open heart. Be open to friendships with women who are different from you…these are often some of the strong bonds!
Busyness: After caring for the needs of our families and ourselves, who has time for friends? Look for women who are busy with similar responsibilities and learn to multitask. Learn to do life with your friends.
3- INVEST INTENTIONALLY
Schedule time for friends…put in on your calendar or to-do list!
Don’t try to fend off loneliness by doing more.
Don’t use social media as a substitute for real connection.
Stop throwing pity parties and make it happen!
Keep trying even if you fail.
It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there is no one to help, tough! By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst… ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (The Message)
BUILDING BLOCK #2: COMMUNICATION
One of my favorite quotes about friendship comes from C.S. Lewis:
Friendship is a unique kind of love, distinct from romantic or other kinds. We picture lovers face to face but friends side by side: their eyes look ahead. That is why those people who simply ‘want friends’ can never make any. The very condition of having friends is that we should want something else besides friends. Friendship must be about something…those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travelers.
One of the first steps in learning to communicate effectively with your friends is to ask this question: What are my friendships about?
My inability to ask this very question caused me a lot of pain and confusion in my friendships.
I needed to take the time to pray about my friendships and to thoughtfully consider the role of my friends in my life.
For example, we all what I will acquaintances, companions, and kindred spirits.
An acquaintance is someone you chitchat within the grocery store, a companion is someone you do something with like exercise, volunteer, shop, or cook, and a kindred spirit is someone who knows the deepest parts of your soul… that friend that you allow to see your “ugly cry.”
Have you properly identified those friends in your life? Do you know who can talk to on a friendly level and whom you can you share deep conversations?
That is the key to communication! We often get hurt or confused when we try to share with friends who may not see our relationship the way we do.
For reflection, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have too many acquaintances and not enough kindred spirits?
- Am I trying to make a companion into something more…should I?
- Am I intentional about with whom I communicate my deepest thoughts, hopes, fears, and dreams?
- Do I have a healthy balance of friendships in my life?
“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” Proverbs 18:24 (The Message)
BUILDING BLOCK #3: COMMITMENT
Once you connect with women and communicate effectively, you need to go one step further and make the commitment need to develop authentic, profound and long-lasting friendships.
Here is what 7-year-old Gigi says about being a good friend:
HOW TO BE A FRIEND
Be nice and kind.
Play with them.
Give them a nickel.
Let them win.
Send them emails.
When they are sick, make them a card.
Ask them for a play date.
Say great things about them.
Say it’s awesome to be a twin.
I think little Gigi is wise beyond her years and is well on her way to making lifelong friendships!
Here is a list of DO’S that I would add that will help you strengthen and deepen the commitment to your friends.Strengthen and deepen your friendships with this list of DO'S! A guest post by @Carla_Gasser Click To Tweet
DO GET TO KNOW YOURSELF FIRST
Figure out what kind of friend you are and what you are looking for in a friend. Know your personality and your strengths and weaknesses so that they do not hinder your friendships. Be honest!
DO EMBRACE DIFFERENCES
Celebrate what make you unique and use this to strengthen your relationship instead of pulling you apart. Use your differences to bring out the best in each other and to teach each other.
DO GIVE YOUR CLOSE FRIENDS PERMISSION TO SPEAK TRUTH INTO YOUR LIFE.
You want this and need this, so have an open heart when a friend shares something that you may not want to hear.
DO TALK LESS AND LISTEN MORE
If this is hard for you, practice by waiting to speak, asking open-ended questions, or letting your friend talk first.
DO KNOW WHEN IT IS TIME TO HANG ON OR TIME TO LET GO
Some friendships are for a season, and some are worth fighting for…ask God for guidance and wisdom when you go through a rough time with a friend.
DO FORGIVE AND SEEK FORGIVENESS
Your friends WILL hurt you, let you down, and disappoint you. Even your closest ones! Be prepared for it and express your feelings honestly when it happens. Then forgive and move on! Also, be humble and willing to ask for forgiveness when you know you did something wrong.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 (ESV)
“Wounds from a friend can be trusted…. the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” Proverbs 27: 6, 9 (NIV)
My friendship journey has been filled with many ups and downs and continues to be a work in progress, but God has taught me that He is a God of connection, companionship, and community and desires that I have strong, healthy, and authentic relationships. With humility and grace, I am daily learning that I do need and want friends!
When not teaching, writing or speaking, Carla is most herself as a wife and mom living in Hudson, Ohio with her four very active (and hilarious!) children (ages 19, 18, 16, & 12). She has been married, Michael, her childhood friend and high school sweetheart, for 25 years and is thankful for being able to do life with such a supportive and loving partner. She writes and speaks about the messy, ordinary, and unexpected ways her life and her faith intersect. Her passion is connecting with women so that they can Seek Jesus, Serve their families & others, and Support each other with truth and love. She is a work in progress, seeking fellow travelers on the journey.
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