Making friends and building strong relationships isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible and there are some steps you can take today to make it a reality!
Knowing I’d be single parenting for a week, I planned my time quite intentionally. We had events to attend and work to get done, but I’m not used to parenting alone and the void I noticed when my husband was gone, even as I went about my normal routine, was huge. The days seemed longer, lonelier, and even with four kids, quieter.
It was on one of those particularly long and quiet afternoons that a friend sent me a text, “bring the kids and come over for dinner tonight!” It was as if she knew. I didn’t have to say the words, but she knew. That is communion lived out; that is a beautiful friendship.
We ate and chatted over grilled cheese and tomato soup and I left with a heart even fuller than my stomach. Friendship has the ability to do that.
We were made for union and communion, to connect and relate, to thrive in intimacy. We were made to know and be known and friendships are a beautiful expression of that. But sometimes getting there is tough.
Sometimes building strong friendships feels like a chasm to cross; we’ve seen it in action but it feels elusive, something that works for everyone, but us.
Strong friendships aren’t built overnight, but stronger friendships can begin today. And it all begins with us. Often times we wait and hope and wish for a friend rather than thinking of the very real things we can do to become one.
Here are a few keys to becoming a great friend.
Don’t expect friendship to fill you
Friendships are a beautiful compliment to life but the weight of our expectations can crush them. Our fulfillment must come first from Christ and the knowledge of who we are because of him. CS Lewis said it best, “In God, there is no hunger that needs to be filled, only plenteousness that desires to give.” Friendship must flow from that plenteousness.
Friendship grows when we are vulnerable enough to share a part of our real lives with someone. Not our Pinterest life, not our highlight our reels, but our real messy, authentic and brave lives.
In every single friendship, someone has to go first. Invite someone to go for a walk, be brave enough to sit next to someone at a meeting, a Bible study, church. Ask someone to coffee. Every friendship begins with someone stepping. Go first.
The best friendships endure life’s highs and lows. They endure seasons and changes, changes that sometimes change us. Be faithful. Friendships can grow and endure change if you are faithful.
Pour out grace
Who doesn’t need this? When life gets busy, when we forget a birthday, don’t return a call or miss a text. Practice pouring out grace rather than expectation; forgiveness rather than bitterness.
Call a friend when her husband is out of town and invite her over for dinner. Serve up some simple grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup; she is coming for the company rather than the food, I promise.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is famous for saying “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” In our busy world, it’s easy to be guarded, rushed and transactional. Kindness and generosity are not always the norm. Being a friend is the best way to make one.
Check Your Expectations.
Friends come in various shapes and sizes, it’s possible that the perfect friend for you right now is 15 years older than you, likes classical music or has pink hair. If you are looking for a friend that looks just like you, you may need to check your expectations. You might be surprised by the friendships you never expected.
It’s easy to look on social media and believe that everyone but you has an adoring tribe. It’s simply not true and coveting friendships does nothing to help your own. Fight distraction, forsake comparison and focus on one thing you can do to become a better friend right now.
This is far less cliche than it may sound. Community is a relationship blessed by God since the dawn of time. He ordained it and he has sustained it, which means he cares about it. Pray faithfully that God will give you friendships that honor him, that he will give you the courage to invite people in and that he will bring the exact women into your life that you can link arms with on this journey.
And one more bonus tip, be patient. All relationships take time. It’s easy to be eager for deeper friendships, but there is beauty in the waiting, in learning to trust God in lonely moments and growing our faith that he will bring us companions in due time.
Don’t be afraid to step forward and yet lean into the lonely, bravely trusting that God is at work to bring you just the friends you need. And don’t give up; beautiful friendships are always worth the wait.
Katie, I Choose Brave
Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.