There are many things I’ve been learning about friendship recently. I’m so grateful for these lessons. God showed me some things I needed to change, and what I shouldn’t allow in my friendships.
Friendship is such a blessing from God, and something He wants us to pursue on this earth. He wants us to connect with each other, and carry each other’s burden’s throughout this life. When we embrace His calling, stop looking at friendship to benefit ourselves, or using people to make us feel better about ourselves; we can learn ways to truly build our friendships to thrive the way God intended.
Here are 4 ways you can enhance and bless your friendships today:
Every relationship needs a time of encouragement and praise. I’m sure if I asked you right now what you appreciate about one of your friendships, you could ramble off a few different qualities. Every once in a while, share these qualities. Express why you appreciate their friendship, that you value it, and desire for it to continue to grow. I make a point to tell my friends that I love them or had a great time with them. I share why I love and value them, and how they are a blessing to my life. This is valuable, and helps you grow closer as well.
2. Be the planner.
Initiate a time to hang out together. Make the plans, and invite them along. I am usually the planner in my friendships, and I really love when my friends take that initiative also. This takes away any one-sided feelings, and shows you care and value your time together as well.
Most people don’t feel comfortable enough to continue to put themselves out there when they aren’t getting much back in return. I have had a good share of one-way friendships, and they really wear on you. When I would stop reaching out or inviting them to get together, then I would barely hear from them. This was hurtful, and exhausting. At some point, one person gets sick of it, and looks for more meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships. So, if you notice one person seems to be consistently making more effort than another…make a change to benefit the friendship.
3. Share & Relate.
Proverbs 17:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
“Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”-Brene Brown
I’ll admit…I can’t relate to every situation, pain, or hurt a friend goes through. However, when a friend is open and honest with me about their life, they desperately need to feel safe. A way to foster that vulnerability in the friendship is to share a time you had the same type of feelings even if the situations aren’t similar.
Vulnerability and openness is the key to real friendship. The kind God designed for us. To share our lives, our struggles and successes. He never designed for us to live guarded lives. He doesn’t want us to just deal with everything in our minds and by ourselves because we are scared to let anyone see a flaw in our lives.
We all have weaknesses. For example, marriage is hard for everyone. Dealing with money & bills are stressful. Our kids drive us all insane at times. We all feel like we are failing at some area of life. We can all embrace those feelings… together.
Share your experiences, when a friend opens up. This shows them that they are accepted, not alone, and are completely normal. That is what we all need in those moments. This is where connection starts.
I have had a few different times in my life where I opened up to a friend, and just got “crickets” back. No encouragement, No sharing, No understanding..crickets. This tends to makes people feel unsafe to share in a friendship, and start to back off…becoming passive again.
When your friends share with you, show them what they have to say matters. I am making it a point to put my phone down, and make more eye contact when we are together. When my kids are around, I make a point to focus on my time with them, show them that they are loved, that I care, and I am right there in it with them.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another- Heb. 10:24-25
Giving of your time or giving a gift is a great way to strengthen a friendship. I have had some great friendships where someone bought me a small, thoughtful gift. They just wanted to say they were thinking of me. Treating someone to a meal or coffee is another great way to be a blessing. On various occasions, I’ve had friends cover my bill at restaurants, and it meant so much more to me than they even realized.
All of us are constricted on time, so finding a way to regularly schedule time with those who mean the most to me is important to strengthening friendships.
Being busy is no longer an excuse of mine. As adults, we are all busy. We all have full plates, and various priorities. However, I decide what my priorities are, and how I choose to use my time each day. I am now including people I care most about, and nourishing those relationships on a consistent basis.
The only way to build on friendships is through vulnerability, and that comes the more you spend time with someone and build up trust.
These are 4 simple tips for enhancing the friendships you currently have in a deeper way. You are important to your friends. Show them they are important to you.
For more on friendship, check out: “How to Tell when it’s time to End a Friendship.”