Does anyone remember how easy it was to make friends in elementary school? It didn’t take much effort (or time) to become best friends forever, walking arm-in-arm and ready to face the world! It seemed so uncomplicated. There were little to no expectations and conversations came naturally. Now I know, the conversations probably weren’t deep and there would be arguments over who would be Barbie and who would be Skipper. And in a heartbeat the BBF title would soon be given to someone else. It’s safe to say that many of these early friendships could be called shallow, but it was a starting point and a place to begin to learn how to have deep and lasting friendships.
Over the years, particularly into adulthood, friendships became a priority in my life. I saw the value in them and how much of a gift they are. Good, healthy friendships add so much to our lives… encouragement, truth, fun… someone to offer support during hard times… someone who loves you for you, the real you, even if your house isn’t clean or if you haven’t showered that day. Friendship is truly a treasure if we’re willing to go deeper and be vulnerable! And that’s not always easy, right? But it’s totally worth it.
I’ve come up with a few ways to invest in friendships and how to make them a priority in your life!
Schedule time together
You can’t get to know someone better and expect the relationship to deepen if you don’t spend time together. And I mean real face-to-face time. And to do this, you have to make the time. Schedule friend dates and keep them. I understand that sometimes we use play-dates to accomplish this, and that’s okay sometimes, but it’s also necessary to spend time together outside of the presence of children. Where your attention and conversation isn’t being interrupted and you’re free to share openly and honestly. If you’re long-distance friends, call each other, email, text message! Make keeping in touch a priority!
Take off your mask
Being vulnerable doesn’t come naturally to most people. Putting our flaws and insecurities on the table can be scary and the fear of rejection and judgment is real. “What will she think of me if she knew…”.There’s no way to move into a deeper relationship without taking off our masks and allowing love & acceptance to take place. This is where we can share our fears, our struggles, our joys, our lives and hear “Me too!” or “Hey, I thought I was the only one who felt that way!” While every friendship might not reach this level of openness, we should have at least a couple who know us with our masks off. One way to do this is to simply have fun and be silly together. Honestly, sometimes a few good laughs and a little goofiness can really deepen a friendship!
Be quick to forgive
One thing I’ve learned from experience is that if you enter into a friendship with a list of expectations you’ll surely be disappointed! And this is true for just about any relationship. People are people… they forget birthdays, they’re late for get-togethers, they don’t always say the right thing and they don’t always promptly return calls (or texts or emails). Our friends have bad days too and that’s where we have to offer a lot of grace to each other, say “I’m sorry” and move forward. Holding grudges and feelings of resentment will only damage a friendship. While some circumstances would need a heart-to-heart conversation to move forward, grace can go a long way in friendship, especially when we choose to step back and not take the unreturned text message or forgotten birthday personally (or whatever it may be).
Give it time
Deep, lasting friendships don’t happen overnight. Like any relationship, they take time and commitment. These God-given friendships will weather the storms and seasons of life as well as the moves and distance. Two of my dearest friends live in different states, but I know without a doubt I can call upon these women for encouragement, prayer or just to hear “me too” and I hope they can say the same for me. When we do see each other in person, we pick up right where we left off and the friendship is sweeter than ever.
Be brave and willing to seek out friends
Good friends aren’t just going to walk up to your front door and ring the doorbell! Oh, wouldn’t this be nice though! We have to be willing to put forth the effort into making friends, and then be willing to invest in the friendship. If you’re longing for deep friendships, I courage you to pray for the Lord to bring these women into your life and to give you the courage to step outside of your comfort zone in making new friends. Whether it’s through your mom’s group, bible study, work setting or in your neighborhood, there are opportunities all around us that hold the possibility of friendship! We just have to be open to seeing those and then pursuing them. My family and I have lived in our home for five years, but it wasn’t until a year ago that I met a precious next-door neighbor and she’s become such a treasured friend, and she’s within walking distance. Bonus! For years I prayed for meaningful friendships. God knew my heart desired these relationships, especially after moving across the country with my new husband. He brought some lovely women into my life, of varying ages and walks of life, but He required me to be brave enough to pursue and invest in these friendships, and He still asks this of me when I’m meeting new people. Sometimes when I meet someone I’d like to get to know better, I try to refrain from saying “I think you’re cool, can we be friends?” even though that may be what I’m thinking! I don’t want to scare people off…. 🙂
So many times differences can be divisive in friendships. We’re not always going to agree on everything. You may work, she may stay home. You may like a clean and tidy home, she may be messy. You may feed your kids all organic, and she is okay with processed. You may parent one way, and she parents differently. Whatever the case and whatever the difference, we have the opportunity to love one another despite of it and even learn from one another if we embrace those differences. And they really can grow us. Have you ever been around women who have a deep friendship, yet are very different? They can really compliment each other! Differences don’t have to divide!
Take the pressure off your husband
Husbands weren’t designed to take the place of good girlfriends. They just weren’t. Husbands are husbands and to put pressure on them to fill the role of girlfriends just isn’t fair. My husband is definitely my friend, and the best one I have. But he just can’t meet the needs that only close girlfriends can, nor should I expect him to. He encourages my carved-out time with friends because I come back refreshed from being with them.
Pursing and investing in friendships is a choice we make. And although different seasons of life are busier than others, some allowing for more time to invest, it’s definitely worth the effort. Friendships can bring so much joy and happiness, and deep friendships are a treasure. Even those friends that aren’t the closest are still a blessing! So if anything I hope this encourages you to pursue strong friendships & to grow in the ones you already have! Tell your friends you’re thankful for them! Send a note of encouragement “just because” and let her know you’re praying for her!
|The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9|