This article was featured in its entirety in elephant journal at http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/03/10-things-ive-learned-about-friendship/
Over the past year or so changes in my life have caused me to take a good look at the people I consider friends. Growing up, my parents dispensed a lot of advice about friends and friendship- some good, some not-so-great- but as I grew older I realized I had to be smarter about my choices. I needed to make my own rules. Not everyone who smiles with you is your friend; not everyone who seems mean to you is your enemy either. People who mean so much to you one day may not mean so much a year or two out. Be that as it may, I still have some very good people in my life who confirm to me not only that I have good friends, but that I know how to be a good friend.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
1: Your friends celebrate with you when you are happy. They don’t look for ways to diminish your happiness, even when they are not happy themselves.
2: Your friends cry with you when you are sad. They don’t downplay your grief as though it were insignificant, even if they believe differently.
3: Your friends will call you out on your bullshit. They will be the first ones to tell you when you are being an idiot, when you are being petty or rude, when you are being a moron or a jackass. Your friends are not “yes” people. Your friends help to keep you in line with the truth of who you really are.
4: In the dark times of your life your friends will find you and turn the light on. Your friends don’t add to the drama and insanity by punishing you with insensitivity.
5: Your friends learn your song and will sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words. There will be times when you feel so lost, like you’ve forgotten who you are. There are people who know you inside and out who will be happy to remind you because they love you. These are your friends.
6: Your friends will take great lengths to understand your quirks, your flaws, likes and dislikes. They will not judge you. They will love you just as you are and will not try to change you.
7: You know your friends because they are the ones who help you to be a better person just by virtue of who they are and by their presence in your life, whether you talk to them every day or once every seven years.
8: Facebook may say you have over 100 friends. In real life, you only have seven, plus or minus two. Of those seven, only three are in your inner circle, and there is only one person whom you will call at 3 a.m. when you cannot sleep. Understand those numbers. The entire world cannot fit in your front row, nor should it.
9: As you get older, your friends will change because your needs and wants will change. Your true friends will understand that and be okay with it.
10: Friendship, like love, is a form of energy. It can neither be created nor destroyed; it simply transfers from one state to the next. Cherish your friendships and pay attention to them. They are important in navigating the seas of life. In order to have good friends, you must practice being a good friend.
What are your friendship rules? Share in the comments! I’d love hear about your friendship experiences.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)
These are the last words of Jesus as recorded by Matthew. It was his Great Commission to us, our work, as destined by the Father, to be done on earth. The groundwork had been laid; the package had been signed, sealed and delivered. Jesus had accomplished what he was sent to earth to do. Now, it was up to the disciples and to us…
Jesus left us the greatest example of what it meant to have the heart of a servant. He got involved in the lives of the people around him and ministered to them with compassion. So many times we get so caught up in our personal needs and wants that we forget that there are people in our midst who could benefit from what we have to offer. You might be saying- “Who me? I’m just trying to make it right now. I need to focus on getting a job!” The point is, even in job search, there comes a time when it is necessary to slow down and focus on others instead of being absorbed by our own needs.
Hands and Hearts Ready To Serve
God’s commission to us does not have any limits on time or qualification. He doesn’t say- “when you finish school” or “when you find that job” or “after your kids are gone to college” or “after you get a house”. The command is:
…now that you have seen what I have done, and you can witness to what I have said,
”and be sure that I am with you always…”
We can be assured, when we are busy doing what God has called us to do, He will always do His part in making sure we are taken care of. Believe that God is powerful enough to handle the details of our lives, like the fact that we have bills to pay and that we need a job, and that we want to save up enough money to achieve our personal goals. The truth is, He placed us here on earth to be of service to His kingdom; to be His eyes and ears, feet and hands, his heart, especially at a time when He sometimes seems so invisible.