If you’ve been following along, you know that I am in the middle of a little series about Pursuing Transformation. It started with this proclamation that I made back in January, pinpointing five areas of my life where I want to see growth in 2015 - and now I'm checking in with each area, sharing where I'm at and encouraging you to do the same.
This week I’m onto my fourth goal – to be a better friend. So far, I feel the least prepared to write an update on this one.
Friendships continue to remain a mystery to me. And honestly still a struggle. Here’s the thing: I really struggle with friendships when they unexpectedly take a turn for a different direction or fall right off the map. It’s happened to me time and time again where I’m super good friends with someone (not just acquaintances- but actual know each other’s deep feelings, thoughts, histories kind of friends) and for no reason that I’m aware of, something switches. Phone calls disappear, text messages remain unanswered, and the once strong bond that made our friendship so beautiful weakens – and with no explanation even when pursued.
I understand that relationships are not easy, that yes there is some truth to the cliché statement of friends are in your life for a reason, season, or a lifetime – but when it feels like someone just ups and leaves your life for no apparent reason and doesn’t have the guts to tell you why they’ve decided to cut you out, that hurts.
I’m a, for lack of a better term, “no shit” kind of gal. If I am struggling with something, I’m not just going to harbor it, talk behind your back and wait until four frustrations later when I finally blow up in your face. If there’s an issue, I want to talk about it and work through it right away, together– with love, and with grace. Being able to be up front with each other, to be honest, and love each other through confrontation brings huge value and trust to a relationship. And I think that’s what makes relationships strong.
But this post isn’t supposed to be about the bitterness that I am still working on in my heart, it’s about how I am going to challenge myself and my role in the friendships that I have. One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 4:15 – it says, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ.” The reason I first fell in love with this verse was because I felt like it was a positive encouragement for healthy confrontation. Encouraging us to speak the truth to each other, bringing up hard conversations, but in a loving manner. And I very much still love it for that reason. But what I’ve been thinking about more lately is a slightly different perspective of the challenge to speak truth in love.
Dealing with all these friendship struggles, the silver lining through it all is that I’ve become so much more thankful for the relationships that I do have. It’s made me realize just how thankful I am for the friends who have stuck it out with me through it all, and it makes me want to tell them just how great I think they are. And that’s what I think the second aspect of speaking the truth in love is, to communicate how much we appreciate each other – to speak that truth in love.
Just as important as it is to be honest about frustrations, it’s even more important to share how valuable I think my friends are, how kind, how encouraging, how much of a huge blessing their friendship is in my life. How often do you go through weeks, months, years, without saying – “hey, you know what? I am so thankful that you are my friend. I really think you are amazing”? Do you tell your friends how much you appreciate them and the way that they wear temporary tattoos with you even though you’re 29 years old? Or tell them how great it is that they care about what you’re doing, encourage you to chase your dreams, giggle together over a glass of wine, play Heads Up in the middle of a restaurant or go to Sephora 1700 times and walk around for way too long. I don’t know about you, but my answer is not enough.
I want to be a friend who is willing to speak truth lovingly in confrontational situations, but even more so I want to be a friend who is known for telling you how loved you are. I want to be a friend who is caring, encouraging, honest, invested, intentional and present through thick and thin. I think that’s what God calls us to be isn’t it? To be a community of men and women who really truly care about each other and communicate that love!
That’s how I want to be a better friend. I want the people in my life to know how thankful I am for them, and I’m looking forward to showing them.
If you, too, have awesome friends in your life, maybe you want to join me in telling them. Shoot a text message, send a fun card, a lil email, or maybe even give them a call and actually say the words! Let’s be a community known for speaking the truth in love, both in the good and in the bad.