“There‘s nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” ― Linda Grayson
I love my children. And I absolutely adore my husband. But sometimes, I don’t know what I would do without my girlfriends. They help me keep my sanity on the days when I feel like I could completely lose my marbles. They make me laugh when I would rather cry. They love me on the beautiful days and when my inner beast comes roaring onto the scene. They are truly a gift.
Authentic, soul-satisfying friendship is one of the sweetest things we can experience in life. It is something to be cherished and cultivated. But I’ve learned that genuine, life-giving friendships won’t happen by chance.
So what does it take to foster fantastic friendships?
Be the kind of friend that you want to see
Like so many things in life, we generally get what we are willing to give. The same could be said about friendship. If we want to have fantastic friends, then we need to be a fantastic friend ourselves.
The golden rule comes to mind: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Do you treat others how you want to be treated? Think about the characteristics that you most desire in a close friendship. Can you honestly say that you are consistently offering those same qualities to the people in your life?
For instance, if you really want a friend that’s a good listener, do you offer the same courtesy? Or are you the one that is always talking?
If you desire a friend who can be trusted with your most intimate secrets, are you a friend who is safe with things shared in confidence?”
We typically get what we are willing to give. So if you want to have fantastic friends, it starts with you being one yourself. Be what you want to see!
Bring your best to the relationship.
Fantastic friends consistently bring out the best in us. They encourage, support and cheer us on to bigger and better things. They make us feel good about ourselves because they love us and believe in us!
When we experience success in life, a fantastic friend will genuinely be happy for us. They will celebrate the success with us, rather than being jealous or competitive, or having an attitude about it.
Furthermore, when misunderstandings occur (because even in the best of friendships, mistakes or misinterpretations will happen sometimes) a fantastic friend won’t jump to wild conclusions or assume the worst about us or the situation. Instead, they choose to believe the best and give us the benefit of the doubt.
Romans 12:15 sums this up beautifully: “rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.”
Do you assume the best, encourage and “rejoice” with your friends? If not, what do you need to do to get yourself to the place where you can?!
Bring your best, and it will usually bring out the best in your friendships!
Be a bosom buddy
If you aren’t familiar with this idea, it’s borrowed from Anne of Green Gables, one of my favorite childhood stories. Anne described a bosom friend as: “an intimate friend… a kindred spirit… someone with whom we can bear our souls.”
Bosom buddies are people we can be vulnerable with and whom are vulnerable right back. They are authentic and trustworthy. These are the friends who really “get us.” People we can “laugh till we cry and cry till we laugh” with.
A bosom buddy is someone we can bare our souls to (share our biggest dreams and darkest secrets) without fear of rejection or judgment. They know the REAL us -the good, the bad, the ugly- and they still love us!
Finally, bosom friends aren’t afraid to tell us the truth. They don’t just tell us what we want to hear, they tell us what we need to hear. They may be our biggest cheerleaders, but they also hold us accountable when we are making poor choices or believing lies.
Proverbs 27:6 says: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
It may not always be pleasant to hear, but a bosom friend will tell us the truth in love, because they actually love us enough to do so!
Build into the friendship
Fantastic friends show up. They show up in the good times and the hard times. They invest IN and don’t just take FROM the friendship. They are there when it’s convenient and they are there when it’s not. They are intentional about putting time, energy and effort into the relationship.
Along with showing up, fantastic friends don’t give up. When things get tough, they put on their relational work boots and “Git-R Done.” These are the friends that will sit down and have the hard conversations with us, even when it’s awkward and painful and would be easier to walk away. They do it, because they know it’s worth it in the end.
In Ecclesiastes we learn “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor, For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up…”
I love this, because it reminds us that the effort we put into our relationships is worth it. There is a good return for our labor! But it’s also a warning. If we aren’t willing to put in the hard work, we shouldn’t be surprised if there is no one there to pick us up when we fall.
Are you building into your friendships on a regular basis?
Fantastic friendships are possible! If you “be what you want to see,” bring your best, are a bosom buddy, and build into your relationships, you will be well on your way. And, don’t forget to bring the chocolate!
photo credit: Pixabay.com