Friends, being an adult is hard. If my 16-year-old self knew how many hard choices and responsibilities I was going to have to face when I became a “grown up”, I never would have grown up. Over the last couple of years, I have been really tried in my friendships and sometimes, I have failed.
I have been researching and reading ways to build friendships. Good friendships/relationships are so hard to come by and contrary to popular believe, they require work. I came across Kari Kampakis and her list of 10 ways to build better friendships, and I thought it was too good not to share – the list is hers, the thoughts/examples below each item are mine. Click the link for her thoughts on her list
1. Feed our spiritual life
Taking care of ourselves has to be priority number one in ALL relationships. I know that I hear this in reference to married or parenting relationships – but as a single girl, sometimes it is easy to forget that friendships can take up the same space in our lives as spouses or kids. Making sure that I have time to myself is really important to my relationships. I am an introvert (INFJ) so time alone is how I process emotions and thoughts, when I don’t have enough of that, my relationships start to suffer. When I take care of myself I am better able to take care of my relationships.
2. See each other as God sees us
God thinks that we are awesome – he created us to be imperfect and He thinks he did a good job! In this world when we are conditioned from a young age to compare and judge, it can be life giving to take a moment and just appreciate each other as friends, faults in all.
3. Love each other’s talents
As much as God creates us in His own image, he also made every single one of us different. It makes our relationships stronger when we come to see other’s talents not as a lacking in our lives but a blessing in theirs. And as a blessing in theirs it can be a blessing to our lives. Kari put this perfectly in her post “Often when I’m jealous of another woman, it’s because she has a talent I don’t”. Amen.
4. Seek to understand
This is one that I am working fiercely on. In building relationships it’s important to take time to listen before we react. It may sound simplistic but learning about the other person or people in the relationship but it can be forgotten in the rush of activities and daily life. When we better understand each other, we’re less likely to get upset over small things.
5. Reveal our Weaknesses
This one is hard. I am only starting to venture into this one – even in the friendships that I have had for half my life. While it is so hard to be vulnerable, it’s also absolutely necessary. Keeping things to yourself might feel easier in the moment, but it also doesn’t bond you to the other person or group. Sharing things that are hard, frees up other people to talk about hard things, and it strengthens the relationship!
6. Quit taking it Personally
I am a giver – my love language is acts of service. I love doing things for other people, so when they don’t reciprocate in the same way, I tend to take it personally. Something that I have learned in the last few years is 98% of the time, whatever it is that made someone treat me less than I would have treated them, has not one thing to do with me. It takes time to realize this, y’all – especially when you have great parents like mine who make you feel like you hung the moon everyday. I think it also takes conscious effort. When I start to think about something small and its getting to the point where my feelings are hurt, I stop and remind myself that it’s not about me.
7. Put Grace before Judgement
This is the whole people who live in glass houses should not thrown stones. It also relates to treating others how you would like to be treated. Giving grace to someone also allows for grace to be given to you by the other person or people.
8. Accept the imperfect love from others
A couple of years ago, I went through a really terrible few months. I was unsure of what I was doing in life and I had to make some really big decisions that I really never thought I would have to make. Instead of reaching out to a broad diverse group of friends who could really love me in all the ways that I needed, I put it all onto one person.
One person cannot be everything we need. Even spouses cannot love us in all the ways we need love – that is why we need God. A more effective way to deal with tough situations is to lean on a group of friends who can all love you in specific ways, fulfilling your needs. When I leaned on the one person it put way too much pressure on our friendship and eventually, it broke.
9. Forgive easily and often
I cannot put this any better than Kari did – “Forgiveness is a habit. It’s a muscle we strengthen daily. When we don’t forgive and hold grudges instead, we get resentful. Resentment leads to anger and hate, making it impossible to love the person who hurt us.”
10. Choose compassion over competition
This is one of my favorite things to do lately, if I think about comparing myself to the things that my friends have things could get depressing quickly. One of my quotes sums this up pretty well, a friend’s joy should not take anything away from the joy in your life!
What are your thoughts on building lasting friendships/relationships?