Last week we talked about dealing with women who aren’t your close friends. It’s a totally different story when it’s your homegirls. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing that some people earn a spot in your inner circle. Jesus had an inner circle. Everyone should not be allowed the same access to your heart; the ones who earn those places deserve to get a good friend.
I am surrounded by talented, brilliant, caring women. And I call a handful of them close friends. Women I can share my heart with, women I trust with my story and my problems, women who love me and mine well. Some of them are walking similar paths; some are in other stages of life. I often walk away thinking that they are much better to me than I am to them and that I have so much to learn from them.
But friendship is usually not as easy as we expect it to be. Sometimes we struggle to be a friend that we would want to have. Here are a few ideas for walking confidently in friendships.
1. Pursue a close relationship with God. One of my primary reminders to myself is that if I take care of being close to God- being the woman He wants- He can take care of how that looks in different parts of my life. If I only focus on one aspect, I tend to drop all the other ones.
The more we take our hearts to God- the offences, the hurt feelings, the triumphs- the less we cling in desperation to others. We don’t need them to be our identity. We don’t need to be the cool kid because we are God’s. We don’t need to be included in everything because we are God’s. He gives us our worth; it does not come from our involvement in activities or groups.
That is what disturbs us about being excluded. We begin to wonder if they don’t enjoy our company or if we aren’t good enough to participate or if they’d rather not be friends. We think we aren’t enough, that others don’t want us. But God always does.
2. Be low-maintenance. We all have the high-maintenance friend. The one where you have to do everything exactly right or they’re upset. And it’s usually a long, detailed list of demands. Don’t be that friend and expect to have many.
Everyone loves a low-maintenance friend. I don’t mean that you treat people who ignore you most of the time as close friends. I do mean that you don’t expect to be texted about every thing. You aren’t offended if they get busy for a week and don’t call. Don’t place high demands on your close friends. If you are developing real friendships those things will usually be there.
Be hard to offend. It’s much better than having a long list of demands.
3. Be honest yet tactful. Sometimes it’s necessary to tell someone that they hurt your feelings- especially if it’s a repeated offense. Now if it’s a one-time, out of character thing, I’d let it go whether it’s your best girlfriend, your husband, or your mom. But if it’s something repeated that hurts your feelings, tell them. Maybe your husband tells a joke that offends you because of something in your past- tell him. But don’t make everything a major deal, we’re being low-maintenance, remember?
But at the same time, treat your close friends with respect and appreciation. It’s so easy to treat the people closest to us with less care because we think they will put up with it. Let’s honor the people who are in our inner circle. Treat them with the same tact and grace that you would a stranger.
4. Assume the best. When we start getting sensitive we start thinking people do things on purpose. They know that makes me mad. They intentionally left me out. They never tell me/ask me/invite me. They think I’m not good enough. Chances are, they didn’t even think about it. Everything in life is not about you- or me.
I don’t want any of my friends to hold me to that standard. As we desire grace, extend grace. Overlook the fact that she didn’t reply to your Facebook message as soon as she saw it. Assume that everyone else is too busy with their own lives to be preoccupied with yours. I just (try to) refuse to take things personally so if you want to tell me there’s a problem, sit me down, look me in my face, and spell it out. I’ll do the same for you.
5. Cheer them on. Jealousy destroys relationships. When your girlfriends rejoice, you rejoice. Celebrate their wins. Brag on their skills. Appreciate their strengths. Don’t be the person who refuses to recognize talent in another because you don’t have it. Don’t look for affirmation; give it out to others.
Don’t force everyone to fit into your mold. Your friends may do a lot of things differently than you do them. That’s great. Learn from what they do and implement what will help your life. Be the encourager among your friends, even if they aren’t handing out rewards for that.
Few people have many close friends. That’s not the way life works. But if you have a few close friends hold them close and nurture those relationships. Send them cards. Take them a birthday cupcake. Love their children. Text them funny memes.
Find good friends. Be one too.