Oh friends my heart is just BEAMING with excitement about this lovelier than LOVELY post. Today I am talking abut something that I literally could NOT live without: my #girltribe. The #tribe that has my back no matter what. The #tribe that takes joy in loving me at my lowest. The #tribe that sees me at my core and loves me FOR my imperfections. This #tribe did not happen overnight, but it did happen intentionally as I spent time discovering the truth about building life giving friendships.
The truth is, we are wired for COMMUNITY. We are physically crafted to be on mission together. God created Adam, but soon after he proceeded to create Eve. Because two together were better than one. The beauty of building life giving friendships is that it is not just about enjoying the company of another. Rather, it is meant for us to bear with one another, shower love, comfort, and kindness to one another, gracefully correct one another, forgive one another, and sacrificially serve one another without personal gain.
As the amazing Tim Keller says, “Friendship is a deep oneness that develops when two people, speaking the truth in love to one another, journey together to the same horizon”
I have been SO incredibly blessed to have found a #TRIBE of sisters that truly breath life and love into me daily. But don’t get me wrong, it has taken work, love, grace and a whole TON of effort and many learnings to get to the place I am today with these lovely women. Thank the Lord for their merciful hearts, let me tell you, I haven’t always been the easiest. 😉
As we dive into this post, I want to first urge you to reflect on these questions:
- Do you feel like you may have some counterfeit friendships that thrive on surface level conversations?
- Do your closest friends know you, I mean actually know you, to the CORE of your being? Are you letting them into the deep, potentially murky areas of your heart?
- Do your friendships stand the test of time, life changes and distance?
- Do you only come to your friends when YOU need help?
- Do you question whether your current friends will be there 10 years from now?
- Do you avoid conflict? Do you sometimes hold onto resentment without resolve?
Now that you’ve thought about some of these questions, let’s go ahead and dive into what I have learned about fostering and crafting life giving friendships.
” Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12
1. Listen. Absorb….and listen some more.
Friendship 101: listen a HECK OF A LOT! We all know that listening is so essential for successful relationships, but there is something deeper I want to talk about today as it relates to opening your ears to your friends. The actual act of listening is crucial, but I want you to reflect on your actions after listening. What are your instinctual first reactions? Do you immediately resort to giving advice? Do you jump to correcting? Do you try to solve all their issues? Do you ever make them feel bad for their actions or decisions or feelings? Often our first instinct when listening to the stories of friends is to provide OUR personal input. We want to solve everything for them, or we want to correct them and put them back into place. We often like to tell others how we think they should think, feel, and act. While your desire to provide solutions and offer advice may be genuine and good, unfortunately it may not always be the best first instinct policy.
Sometimes we need to pay better attention to the true needs of our friends. You don’t have to help them put all the pieces back together every single time through your input. Instead, what if we changed our approach. What IF we just chose to listen to them, and comfort them in whatever way that looks right for them in that moment? First and foremost it is our duty to make sure our friends are seen and heard. And guess what!?! Sometimes, even that can be enough depending on what THEY need!
My dearest best friend (and amazing woman pictured here), Jessica Chow, said “There is FREEDOM in knowing that your friend’s delight in listening to your story. Every. Single Day.”
2. Be Consistent.
The best friends I have had in my life to date have stood the test of time and distance. Why? Because their consistency and devotion have never seized. It be quite honest, it is much easier to be close friends with someone when they live in your city and you share a similar friend circle. That’s what I like to call a convenient friendship. BUT, what about when you or your friend moves across the country? Or what about when you or your friend gets married? Or how about when you no longer have the same church or friend group? …THEN WHAT?!
Consistency is key not only to show your true commitment to your friends, but to reinforce that the friendship is not just convenient for you, but steadfast.
3. Allow yourself to be SEEN!
Vulnerability breeds Vulnerability. Oh how I love this. Thank you to Brene Brown who professes this nonstop. Vulnerability is one of the keys to building fruitful, life giving friendships. When you have a close intimate relationship with a friend, choosing to be open and vulnerable about deep areas of struggle, hurt, pain, and insecurities can help do one of two things: 1) It can help you to verbally make known these areas and bring them to light thus propelling you to face them. 2) It can allow your friend to see and hear more of your heart and who you are, and hence be able to better love and serve you.
Not only does vulnerability help us along on our journey of healing and processing, but it helps us to OWN our own stories.
Being vulnerable first also says to your friend “This is a safe space. I’m sharing something intimate, and in turn it is safe for you to share as well.” Being vulnerable with friends allows the reciprocation of vulnerability which then allows you to both empower one another in your journeys as the #1 advocates for each others stories. My greatest friends are the ones on the front lines cheering me on because they know what it’s taken for me to get to this place.
4. Practice Sacrificial Love
Being called to truly GREAT friendships means that we are to truly love one another with sacrificial love through and through. Simply put this equates to giving without the expectation of receiving. Being a truly life giving friend to another means at times sacrificing time, energy, or even money to truly serve their needs. Want to know something even crazier? In the bible we are physically called to love our friends so unconditionally, that we should actually be able to lay down our lives for them. I MEAN WAHHHHHH!
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. “ John 15: 13
It is crazy to think about this at times because when are we actually put into a situation of where we need to sacrifice our lives for others?! BUT when I actually start to simmer on the stark weight of loving my friend so much that in the right situation I would sacrifice my own life for them… it starts to truly challenge my heart and help me to love them in a way that takes myself out of the equation.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
5. Frequently Forgive
No friendship can last without forgiveness….and GRACEm aka the undeserved favor that we receive from God. When you unravel the layers of someone’s heart, you begin to know their layers of intention. This build trust that their CORE intention is not to harm or hurt you. Unfortunately, we are all just as much human as the next person. And as humans, we are also inherently sinners. AHH-GO AWAY SIN!
So let’s get this equation right. We know the lovely heart of our friend, but we also know they are humans, and humans are inherently sinners. As such, my friend as a human is bound to sin against me… in which case I must immediately resort to believing the TRUTH about what I know about their beautiful heart, versus what is being displayed in this moment by their actions.
Because of abounding love, we can choose to look at the truth of our friends hearts despite their sin and extend grace and mercy to them when they may wrong us.
6. Bear With One Another
If you’ve stuck it out this far, I promise you it is worth it because I have saved the BEST for last!! When I say bear with one another, I don’t just mean go have wine nights and do fun things for pleasure with your besties. Sure, those things are fine and good, but what I’m really getting at here is much deeper than than chick-flick marathons and binge eating dark chocolate.
In deep friendship, we are meant to walk through life together every step of the way. When our friend is struggling, our job is to meet them where they are at and be there for them in whatever capacity they need. In true life giving friendships, we come alongside one another. When our friend is crying on the floor endlessly, we cry with them. When they are frustrated and upset, we are frustrated with them. When they are filled with joy and celebration, we celebrate with them. When they are grieving, we grieve with them.
When you are climbing up a steep mountain that feels like it will never level off, nothing feels more comforting than looking to your right and seeing your friend there climbing alongside you. It shows you that suddenly this climb seems more doable, because you are not alone. Your burden is not worthless. Your struggle is not for nothing. We need to bear with one another through every aspect of life: good, bad, ugly, joyous, all the in between stuff.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” Galations 6:2-3
While there are far too many lovely, amazing, powerful things I have learned in friendships to even articulate, there are some key stand out take aways that I have personally learned from practicing and fostering life giving friendships.
- Sometimes, just listening can be enough. It isn’t always necessary to immediately correct or offer solutions (note to self: they may actually be unwarranted.)
- Love without fail. Even if some days you get treated like poop, pursue anyway. Love with a Jesus kinda love in your heart.
- Come alongside instead of walking far in the distance. Don’t run ahead of your friends. Meet them exactly where they are at today.
I hope today you will take a moment to reevaluate the friendships in YOUR life. Are you being a truly life giving friend? Do you truly have a #TRIBE that is breathing true life and love into you, and bearing with you through every step of the journey? How are you going to strive to foster great friendships within your #TRIBE for the sake of joining in oneness for the Kingdom?
Photos by Stef Marie