This blog originally appeared on Jill and Jeremy Tracey’s blog, upsidedownfamily.com, February 7, 2014.
“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.” W.H. Auden
I love this quote on friendship. Who doesn’t want a really good friend (s) with whom they can laugh uncontrollably?
I love my friends and I cherish their friendship. However, I have not always had really good friends. I went through years of not having friends. Over the past fifteen years or so, God brought women into my life that have become my grow-old-together friends. I have made mistakes and learned a lot about how to and how not to develop really good friends. Here are a few of my most valuable lessons:
- Pray. Pray for God to guide you to good friends or bring them to you.
- Ask God to show you how to be a good friend. This will include being open to learn from your past mistakes or the mistakes of others.
- Accept each other as Christ accepted you (Romans 15:7). Understand that we are different from each other and accept those differences. We need to agree to disagree. There is only one person Who was always right and neither of you are Him.
- If it’s not a mutual friendship then it’s not for you. Do each of you have a mutual desire for the friendship and are you there for each other? If you don’t feel the other person is invested in the relationship as you are, take stock to see if what she contributes is okay for you. If not, move on.
- No-Drama Mama and no gossip. Drama kills friendship. Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse person stirs up conflict.” A strong word for us. Stirring up conflict is drama. I have been caught in the drama trap on a couple of occasions and the friendships were hurt or ended. I have since committed to no more drama, no more talking about others unless it’s positive.
Proverbs 16:28 goes on to say, “and a gossip separates close friends.” Like drama, gossip also hurts friendships.
My daughter Katie and her colleague devised a plan to deal with the drama and gossip that contaminated their department. When something unfair or upsetting happens to one of them, they go to the other and vent for a few minutes. The other person empathizes, but does not contribute any negative input. Then they both go back to their work. The offended person feels heard and validated, but the drama went no further. If the situation needs to be addressed, the offended person is responsible to address it with the parties involved. As a result Katie and her colleague enjoy a more stress-free and joyful atmosphere.
- Like-minded women who are moving forward with the Lord. Our really good friends will be women who are moving ahead with the Lord. It doesn’t mean you can’t have other friends, but the ones who will go long and deep with you will be moving forward with God. For a biblical example look at Jesus with His twelve disciples. He was even closer and more intentional with His inner circle three—Peter, James, and John.
- Confidentiality is a non-negotiable. Really good friends don’t tell their friends’ secrets (unless, of course, the friend is in harms’ way and then they get help).
- Let go. It may be time to let go of or at least let distance grow with friends who are no longer on the same journey as you. It’s not unChrist-like to do so. Either of both of you may need time to heal or let God to do a work in you. This doesn’t mean you’re unforgiving. And sometimes life circumstances take us different directions. That’s life and it’s okay.
A handful of friends and I plan on growing old together. Our friendships are not always easy but they are worth it.
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.