It's been a while since I wrote one of these, but I've had thoughts of friendship circling my mind and decided to finally type them out.
Dearest Children of Mine,
As you go through life, I am hoping and praying that you will surround yourself with great people who become great friends. I've been thinking a lot about friendship recently. It truly is one of the things in life that I could not live without. Friends have come alongside of me at so many points and helped to hold me up when I felt like giving up. Friends can help your life be sweeter and more fun and better, and I hope you look for these kinds of people.
Here are a few tips on friendship that I've gathered over the years. I think it boils down to a couple of pretty basic things.
You've got to show up, and you've got to open up.
As I think about the friends that I have right now in my life, I am so amazed and overwhelmed at the blessings they are to me. It's funny, because if you looked at many of us on paper, we might not look super compatible. BUT - we've all shown up at the same places consistently. We've shown up for each other. We've put in the time. Relationships are built as you do life together, and you build commonality with shared experiences. As time goes by, you look up and realize how much you adore these people that you spend all this time with. It's happened to me over and again, and I am always a little surprised and super grateful at who I get to be friends with.
Don't pick friends based on who can give you advantages or who might seem the flashiest. Pick the people that are the most constant. And do the same for them. Show up. Make the effort. Do the inviting if you need to. Everyone likes to be invited. Do the hard work, and you will all be so glad.
Once you've got a bit of trust going, take the leap and open up with those around you. Let them see who you really are and what makes you tick. Be HONEST about the struggles that you face and your story, and be a safe place for their returned honesty. It is hard to shine light into the dark corners of our hearts, but it is so freeing and it ties us to those around us in really wonderful ways.
There are so many amazing people in the world that you could surround yourself with, and honestly, there aren't enough hours in the day for me to connect with each person I know in all the ways that I would want to. I've had to realize that I cannot go nearly as wide as I might like, but it is more important that I go deep. I think it's better to invest in a few relationships rather than trying to spread yourself among masses of people that you will just get to scratch the surface with. Some friends will be with you for a season, and some will span over several seasons, but either way, remember that you only have so much relational energy to give. Spend it wisely.
I know I've written about this on the blog before, but its been several years, and I feel like I am re-learning some of the same critical things. Kiddos, please know that I am praying for the people that God will have you spend time with in the coming years. I pray that there are encouragers and constants in the group that will help prop you up in the hard times. I also pray that you will be sensitive about when people need you. I hope you see the people that need friends and make that effort. I hope that you lead with kindness and compassion, which probably means that I need to do a better job of modeling that.
Because I have been so blessed with friendships, I hope and pray that you will be as well - but just know that it takes work. Like all good things in life.