I have to give great thanks to my sister, Sarah, for providing me with wisdom in the area of love . She also blogs, and I would highly encourage you to spend some time reading her blog, "Love is a Skill." (her blog-- www.redheadotrun.blogspot.com) She inspires me with her life, and written word... and this blog resulted from reflections on my past, reading her blog, and meeting up with my besties from college on Saturday afternoon for a few hours... or maybe finishing up the book "The Shack" by William P Young (a must read), or the song "We Need Each Other" by Sanctus Real.... Probably a combination of all the above...
|Sarah and I being silly after Madelynn's birth|
Like love... Friendship is a skill, a learned behavior.
You can love someone and not have true friendship, however true friendship doesn't come without love. So you need to have both skills in order to be a good friend to others, unconditionally.
In the past I was a shitty friend. You read that right, down right bad friend. I only cared about NUMERO UNO--- myself. I was so self involved when I was in my 20s that I didn't really care about how my actions would effect anyone around me. I would get what I needed from my friends, (Err, Diane--- I think I still owe you money for a computer that I bought from you in 1994) and then just walk away as if friends were something to burn through. And that was...IS wrong.
We are only in this world for a short time, so ENJOY this life... because we don't know when this life will be taken from us. We should spend our time unconditionally loving those we have in our lives and making sure our friends matter.
I know I have blogged about this topic before, but seeing my dear friends this weekend (my roommates from college) really made me regret... AND I DON'T REGRET MUCH... but it made me regret the time we wasted between the last time we all were together and today. The last time the three of us were all together was in 1995, that is way too much time between visits. Sure we wrote letters, and we message and stalk each other on FaceBook, but friendship is more than that.
Friendship means sacrifice.Sometimes as friends we have to give up our selfish ways and make sacrifices. Now, most of the time we see the word sacrifice and we think on it negatively. However, in this context I mean giving up something important or sacred... like your time, money, love, listening ear. Friendship means being there. Give more, take less. Make those sacrifices.
Friendship means really listening.Even when you don't want to. Friendship means you hear each other out, especially in an argument. Take time to really HEAR what the other person is saying, don't sit there planning your attack or rebuttal. I know that when I get together with Alana, we are both so excited to see each other we don't stop talking. So sometimes we both sit there and are planning on what we are going to say next versus listening. I have really worked on this skill and I pick on Alana because we have actually had a talk about the listening part of friendship. However, I laugh because now we live 5 hours apart and our phone calls are a bit more than ADHD. :) Oh, I love you Alana. More than peanut butter.
Friendship means setting boundaries.Nothing wrong with boundaries. It has taken me 40 years to learn this, but friends don't walk all over you. Friends don't just take from you. Friendship is a give and take. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I would give what I have to a friend if they needed it. I used to let people take advantage of my heart, and unfortunately I have started guarding it a bit more, and I set boundaries. (again, another word we associate with bad, but boundaries can be a good thing). Here is one of my boundaries: if someone asks me for money, I actually base my YES or NO decision on the following: If I lent this money to him/her would I need it back? If I can give it and not expect it back, I do it. If I need the money back (which means I cannot fully give the money without expectation of getting it returned) I don't lend it... boundary.
Friendship means physical love.You just read that and either snorted your beverage out your nose or you quietly said, "OH no she didn't." But yes I did it... I recently read an article that said a person needs 12 hugs per day to really flourish. So why not be more physical with friendship, give hugs when greeting each other or saying good by. I have practiced hugging on those I love and it is paying off in spades. I am happier. Show you care through your actions.
Friendship means treating others as you would want them to treat you.I cannot put it any better than the Bible. Why treat your friends with anger and talk down to them? Is this what you want bestowed upon you? I don't think so. There have been times that I have really gotten angry with a friend (Alana, err... remember that one time on Tim's porch???) and I blew up, started using big words and I was nasty. EVIL actually. Why would I do that to someone I care about so much who loves me unconditionally? Because they love me unconditionally, or lets reword that... they love me without conditions. Despite everything I do right or wrong they still love me. Which means I can get nasty and mad and they will forgive me, right? So what gives me the right to treat them like crap, just because I am having a bad day? That is not fair. If they are there for me without condition, maybe instead of lighting my friend's ass on fire with horrible words, I should take a step back and think before I speak, maybe even give her the benefit of the doubt because not all people are out to cause harm. THIS too has been a hard lesson for me to learn, and it is one I have to constantly "practice what I preach".
Alana and I in August of 2012 (At Ted and Don's house)
Friendship means forgiving.Ah, this is a lesson I learned a long time ago from my grandma, but I fully didn't understand it until earlier this week when I finished reading "The Shack". You always should forgive people, but that doesn't mean you have to forget what they did. Forgiveness makes your heart softer and pliable. Easier for you to open it up again and let friendship in.
Friendship means learning.Learning new things (Karin, we still have to do our pottery), our friend's favorite hobbies (and maybe even participating in them... Like I want to geocatch with Monty and Karin). Friendship means learning about the time that has transpired since the last time you got together. When my friends from college and I got together on Saturday with our spouses, we told the stories of how we connected with our partners and our "love" stories. I cried. Why? Because Diane and David dated in college but I never really knew their love story and it was sweet and amazing. To see David look at Diane when he was talking about it was simply wonderful... the glimmer of love after 18 years of marriage. Listening to Elizabeth and Nathan talk about their meeting 10 years ago and their elopement. To listening to how my husband searched for me and sent random emails to strangers. Listening to his words, and the love behind them I learned how much he loves me and always has.
So, step out of your comfort zone a bit. Look at your friendships a bit differently. And here is the thing, if you are someone who has been a crappy friend, admit it... seek forgiveness and move on... but really try NOT to do it again.
Over the past few days I have really grown to appreciate the few close friends I have in my life. God has blessed me and my bucket runnithh over.
Enter "Thank you for being a friend... traveled 'round the world and back again..."
Thanks, Char for sharing that song with me. You and the song truly inspire me.
Be blessed. AND be a blessing to those around you.