“I’ve heard it said, that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. I know I’m who I am today because I knew you. Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But, because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” – For Good, Wicked
These lyrics from the musical Wicked pretty much sum up friendship. Our lives cross paths with certain people for a reason, and every person that touches our life, helps shape who we are for the rest of our life.
I would say that I have never been very good at making friends. I’m very insecure and don’t feel comfortable in situations where I don’t know people. I’m not really brave enough to just walk up to someone and strike up a conversation.
Growing up, I had a hard time making friends – I was shy, self conscious, and looking back, unapproachable. Sure, I had friends, but it was a long time before I felt like I found my niche. I wasn’t the girl that felt confident enough to talk to people. I wasn’t the girl that stood out in a crowd. I wasn’t the girl that people were clamoring to know. And often times, I still feel like that girl.
I had a core group of girl friends starting around ninth grade. We went all through high school, and even some of us through college, and we were inseparable. Some of my greatest memories from that time are from the fun times we had on trips, school functions, or just hanging out at each others’ homes. We had classes together, went to prom together, and grew up together. Some of those girls I don’t keep in touch with anymore, some I am friends with on facebook and we check in now and then, and others I talk to more regularly. The relationships have changed over the years and none of them are what they were, and sadly are not as strong as they were. But as you age, everyone changes and what once fit, doesn’t always fit anymore. And as hard as it is, sometimes it’s necessary to move on from a friendship. But those people are never really gone – they’ve impacted your life, and because of them you are forever changed.
I would count myself lucky to have a wide variety of friends. I have different groups of friends and am thankful for all of them as they all serve different areas of need in my life. I’m SO grateful for the people who have opened their hearts and lives to me, who share life with me, and who allow me to do the same for them. I have friends who allow me to laugh, to cry, to whine, to pray, to support and so many other things. I have friends from work, friends who are family, friends from church, friends from college/high school days, blog friends, and others. I think you tend to gravitate toward people who are in a similar place to you and commonalities lead to friendships.
So, you have friends. Now, how do you keep them? I think one of the BIGGEST things that affects friendships is that one party often feels like they are giving more than they get. If one friend is constantly the one texting, calling, making plans, etc, they will begin to wonder why they are doing all the work. Does that mean the other person doesn’t care as much? My friendship mantra is pretty much summed up by these words from a Tim McGraw song: “I became a friend a friend would like to have.” I try to be the type of friend that I know I crave. If I’m your friend, I am the most fiercely loyal friend you will ever have. I will be your biggest cheerleader, supporter, and advocate! I’m an encourager (it’s just in my nature), and I know how much encouragement pumps me up so I like to pump out plenty of it myself!!!!
These are some of the ways I try to let my friends know I care:
- Random texts, emails, etc to see how they are doing.
- Surprise notes or cards in the mail! I know I love getting mail and I love surprising others with these.
- Listening when they have something going on and praying for them. We all need someone who does this for us.
- Surprise them with a favorite thing – maybe their favorite drink, a lunch, any little thing that will make them feel special.
- Be supportive! SHOW them you care about what is happening to them and give them the support they may need at the time.
- Most important – BE INVOLVED. Be involved in their life. Know what’s going on with them. Make an effort to support them in whatever they are doing/have going, etc. Just be there for them.
- Make time for them. People are busy. We all are. But never making time for a friend makes them feel unimportant. Don’t make them feel that way.
- If you mess up or hurt your friend, admit it and make it right. Sometimes friendships end over very silly and trivial things. Sometimes the end has validity, but if it’s something small, step up if you are wrong and fix things!
Dymanics of friendships are different. What works for one, won’t work for another. Make time to KNOW your friends, and take the time to really invest in them. Great friends are hard to find so hold on to the ones you do find.
About a year or so ago, I wrote a post about friendship and I ended that one with these words, and think they are still so fitting today for making and keeping friends:
Be you. Be the real you. And treat others like you would like to be treated. If you mess up, apologize. Real, true friends can be so hard to find, so be thankful for the ones you have. Be the kind of friend a friend would like to have. I think it’s as simple as that.