Something funny happened between me and a friend of mine. We’d been friends for over five years, lost touch and kept in touch. The interesting thing about our friendship is how we always pick up from where we left off, regardless of the weeks or months apart.
The first time we met was at a pharmacy. I was an intern and she was an IT student. And being the kind of person I am, I can become friends with anyone if given the chance.
But I wouldn’t force it.
So recently we got talking and realised that we’d had misconceptions about each other. Misconceptions we’d built over time unknown to us. I presumed I knew more about her than she knew about me and she presumed otherwise. It led to a long conversation that had us coming out to express feelings we’d kept from each other unintentionally.
At a point, I actually told her she’d been annoying because she’d hurt me. She also responded that I was too private to let her into my life so she got wary of probing.
We had ‘the talk’ and clarified any differences between us.
Where am I going with this?
The human mind is fascinating. It can assume, presume and conclude matters with verbal and non-verbal actions. It can conjure up images within seconds of something that never happened.
But communication brings clarity. It brings closure. It clears away every cobweb of doubt or assumptions you may have made wrongly.
It’s easy to lose friends when we misunderstand each other. It’s also easy to sweep some things under the carpet because you feel your friends should get it.
But I’m here to tell you not everyone is going to ‘get it.’
I usually shy away from confrontation, especially if I don’t know what I’m going to face. But I’m learning if you are to call someone friend, there are necessary factors that you should guide you in building the right relationships and sustaining them.
Establish your friendship
Have you ever thought someone was your friend just for you to discover they didn’t see you the same way? It can be quite embarrassing. But ever since I got enlightened about the acquaintance and friendship theory, I learned it would be important to define your friendship.
Have you both had ‘the talk’? Many times we underestimate same-sex friendships and prioritize boy-girl friendships.
But a relationship is a relationship.
Are you friends?
Have you both agreed you’re friends that have passed the acquaintance phase?
Is someone in the dark about who they are and you’re leading them on?
Why do you call this person your friend?
Do you share the same beliefs or jokes or goals?
If they aren’t on that lane, are they open to taking the relationship further?
When it comes to criticism, do they take your criticism personal and feel you’re attacking them or they understand that as a friend you’re qualified to correct them because they trust your judgement?
Does he/she knows you only have their best interest at heart?
Employ effective communication
I hope to do a full blog post on how communication is a life saver for relationships. Communication prevents us from sweeping things under the carpet. When we leave things under the carpet too long, it could fracture a good relationship.
If your friend has hurt you, and you are sure you’re friends and you both have the same understanding, then please lay it on the table and deal with it.
Don’t start telling people about them, but tell them about them. Let them know why they didn’t stand up for you when they should have, or why they weren’t there when you needed them.
If you don’t speak up, you will harbour bitterness and use it to judge them.
What if your friend had also been experiencing her own challenges?
What if she was going through a traumatising period of her life?
If you don’t open up, you won’t know how she was also trying to be strong and stay sane. If you don’t open up, she would be unaware of her shortcomings as a friend and even wonder why you’re acting off and misbehaving.
Soon the friendship will either die a natural death or you’ll both be friends living with an unresolved conflict in your heart. This could be resurrected one day and mess up things in the future.
Learn to let go
Although I advocated sharing your feelings with your friends earlier, it doesn’t mean we should start acting petty and lay every single detail on the table.
There are some things the Holy-Spirit would tell me to swallow and move on. We must learn to work on our hearts because people don’t hurt us intentionally. Some do it in ignorance and won’t even apologize. So you’ve got to keep purifying your heart and give excuses for people.
Because love suffers long.
Put in effort
Building friendship is intentional. If someone is your friend, you need to show them you care. I know some things don’t come naturally to us but be willing to go the extra mile.
We need to allow God unravel us from our comfort zones and show kindness to people we call friends.
Discover their personalities. Observe them and find out their love language so you are both on the same page when it comes to loving them.
Ask about them, their aspirations and dreams. Ask about the things that matter to them and how you can be of help. Is there anything they need you for? I know some friends may not reciprocate the affection but you know what? Do it for God.
I remember reaching out to an old friend. On probing further, I discovered she’d gotten married and was pregnant.
If I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t know. So don’t just graze the surface, don’t accept an ‘I’m okay, I’m fine.’
We don’t love because we want the same, but because God has called us to love. Maybe a call or a text that shows you remember them even in this chaos of a world. I love keeping to myself a lot but I’m learning that to be like Christ, I cannot do this. And if I want to be like Christ, I have to first love the people around me.
I shied away from people at a point because of past experiences but I can’t allow bias to ruin my salvation journey. I have to make an effort. Because that’s what love does. We all have shortcomings, but let’s rise above our flaws and reach out to God who is willing to help us in our time of need and become better humans in the process.
Bloom with Love. Xx