There are many things I’ve been learning about friendship recently. I’m grateful for these lessons. God showed me some things I needed to change, and what I shouldn’t allow in 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. This is valuable.
2. Be the planner.
Initiate a time to hang out together. Make the plans, and invite a friend along. I am usually the planner 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. 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 you about their lives, 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 them in many areas. For example, marriage is hard for everyone. Dealing with money & bills is 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 these feelings… together.
Sharing your experiences…when a friend opens up, shows them they are accepted, they are not alone, and they are normal. That is what they need in those moments.
I have a few different times in my life where I opened up to a friend and just got “crickets” back… no encouragement, no sharing… just crickets. This makes people begin to feel unsafe to share in a friendship, and start to back off…becoming passive again.
When your friends share with you, show them they matter. You can put your phone down, make eye contact with them, don’t dismiss them for your children’s interruptions, or even reply to their text/email when you first read it. Show them they are loved, that you care, and you are right there in their issue or feelings 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 friendships where someone bought me the tiniest gift while they were at the store. 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 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 you is important.
Being busy is no longer an excuse of mine. As adults, we are all busy. However, I decide what my priorities and how I choose to use my time each day. I am now including people I care most about and nourishing those relationships.
The only way to build on friendships is through vulnerability, and that comes the more you spend time with someone.
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.”
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