I met a dear friend for lunch today. I believe it has been a year since we got together–just the two of us. (I don’t get out much!) We have been friends for a good long time and I consider her one of my closest friends. There are many reasons why she is and I think today’s conversation is a perfect example of why. But before I talk about our lunch there is one quality, okay, actually two qualities, in my friend that are a must in my closest friends. First, she keeps my confidences. I have no doubt that what I share with her is never goes any further. Secondly, I know she loves me and only wants what is best for me. She never tries to make her point about something I share. She never judges me or my kids. Everything she says or does in relation to me is out of love.
At lunch I verbally processed with her something I have been thinking about. Again, I knew I could be real with her and that she would not be judging the messiness of my words. At one point I told her, “I am processing this as I am saying it to you.”
She is not a “yes” kind of friend. She doesn’t agree with everything I say. She listens patiently and then she asks helpful questions like,
“Why do you feel that way?”
“What did you mean when you said ____________?”
“What do you fear in this situation?”
All of these questions make me pause and think and dig deep for the real answers. Our conversation was very helpful. I came away with a plan but more importantly I came away feeling heard, understood, and loved. To me that is the gift of friendship. My friend is a life-giving friend. I strive to be that kind of friend. I have other friends who are also life-giving, who ask me hard questions because they love me, not because they are trying to make a point. And you know what? I love that about them. I appreciate that about them.
As women (and maybe men, but since I’m not a man I can’t know this about them!) we often struggle to find this sweet spot—truly speaking truth in love in a way the other person can hear. Some people, like my friend today, have a gift to do so. Some people, like me, need to remember that I don’t have that gift. Then when I’m in a personal conversation I need to pause, listen patiently, and prayerfully consider the best way to respond. Am I speaking from a heart of love or to make a point? Would I appreciate someone talking to me the way I am talking to my friend?
I love my friends. I love friendship. I want to give my friends the gift of friendship that they give me. I am a work in progress.
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.