Friendships are very important to me. As someone who does not have the blessing of family nearby I have to depend on the relationships I form where I live to give me the social and relational time I desire. I want to have the healthiest, most live-giving relationships possible so I have recently sought advice and encouragement on having solid friendships in the book Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker. It was so good that I want to share some of the truths I found in the hopes that you, too, can enjoy quality relationships in your own life.
What can you do to find safe, loving, engaged friends whom you can trust never to unfriend you? Become radically invested in the people around you. Take the initiative and become that kind of friend first. The kind of friend who: 1. Draws us closer to God. 2. Draws us closer to others. 3. Helps us become the real person God created us to be.
~ Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended
I do want to be someone who encourages others, especially my friends. I know that I have a gift for encouragement and I want to use it for the benefit of those around me. I want to be someone who supports others’ dreams and celebrates with them when they find success. I want to be someone who is still present and supportive when there are setbacks or heartache. I want to be someone who is there through thick and thin, who is quick to show grace and think the best of others. I want to be someone who is a safe place for others, who is willing to do what I can for those around me.
Fine means the end of a conversation; the beginning of nothing. Now it’s time for the battle cry that if Truth can set us free, it’s best to start living in those places. Maybe going first and admitting our un-fine isn’t a weakness; instead, it’s a gift to the women around us who can finally exhale and admit their un-fine too.
~Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended
I do want to be willing to admit when I need help, when life is not all roses. I want to share my struggles so that solutions and encouragement and support can be found. If I continue to pretend everything is fine when I am actually hurting, it will be difficult to encounter healing. It is better to seek assistance than to try to go it alone – healing may be found faster and more completely.
Showing vulnerability makes me more accessible. I am not up on some perfect pedestal, but am in the trenches of real life with everyone else.
Admitting my struggle invites community. It invites others to gather around me and utilize their gifts and abilities for God’s glory and honor. Without it I am forfeiting others’ opportunity to be a blessing.
Do we have it in us, though, to go the distance? Do we have it in us to keep walking with our friends…Will we stay through the long, cold dark with them or will we tire and want to untie ourselves from a story that doesn’t have a convenient or happy ending?
~Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended
This is an uncomfortable area for me. I feel helpless and out of control in the face of another’s grief. I feel awkward and useless. I have heard that sometimes just sitting with someone as they grieve – being physically present – is all that is needed. Words are not necessarily magical healers. You probably can’t say one perfect thing to immediately remove the grief. Grieving is a process and takes an unknown amount of time. I want to be willing to walk along side a friend as long as I’m needed or useful, even if that means a lifetime of support.
My tendency with uncomfortable feelings and emotions has been to distance myself from whatever the source of them are. I want to become more willing to sit in the uncomfortableness with others and seek to be a part of their healing (when needed) even when it’s awkward and I feel useless for doing anything that seems meaningful. I want to remember to just show up and trust God to show up with me and do his thing.
I have noticed that I struggle to sacrifice and be inconvenienced for my relationships. I am embarrassed by this but awareness is needed before change can occur.
How do you think you score as far as supporting your friends’ dreams? Do you also struggle with hanging in there and helping a friend walk through difficult times?
This is the fourth post of a series exploring some of the ideas in Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships by Lisa-Jo Baker. If you’re interested in reading the other posts, please click on a title: The Fear of Missing Out, Finding Our Approval, Guilt-Free Friendship, The Comparison Trap and Working Through Negative Feelings.