Valentine’s Day has come and gone and if you are single in the relationship department like me, you may have found it a tough day to get through. While I used to think that way, believing I had been forgotten by God and deprived of love, the older I get the more I realize how I haven’t been deprived at all! Through my friendships, I’ve been smothered with love, so much so, I sometimes can’t keep up with it! Yeah it may not look how I thought it would since it’s drenched in estrogen, but it’s more than fantastic!
Friendship plays a pivotal role in my life. Not only am I receiving such loving kindness, I want to make sure I’m doing my best in giving it as well. I’m constantly trying to improve the way I cultivate and grow the relationships that mean the world to me. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation and are wanting to be a better friend for those you care about. If so, I’ve put together a few pointers that are helping me.
Keep up to date on important dates
It may be old fashioned but I keep a physical planner with me. While I mainly have it to keep up with work events, I also keep important dates inside pertaining to my friends. These dates may include theirs as well as their family members and/or pet’s birthday, anniversaries of a parent’s passing, or that important doctor appointment they’ve had scheduled for months and are anxious about. When those days roll around, I will either call or send a card/text acknowledging the importance of it and let them know I’m thinking of them. I know that when people remember little details like this about me, it makes me feel so special. I hope that by remembering these dates, I communicate to them how important they are to me.
Be a good listener
When a friend calls or wants to meet up and talk about a situation going on in their life, your job is to listen. It can be so tempting to turn the conversation around about yourself, give some kind of life advice that wasn’t even asked for, or to tell them how they could turn a bad situation into a good one. While bringing a positive perspective can be useful at times, it’s more likely that your friend just wants an empathetic listening ear. In the past when I’ve had a friend just listen without judgement, it’s been therapeutic and waaaay less expensive than seeing a counselor! So when you are both catching up, give your friend your undivided attention. This might mean putting away your phone if at all possible. Give your friendship the respect it deserves. Your friend is entrusting you with something important and that is a compliment to your trustworthiness. This brings me to my next point…
I’ve been in situations where someone I barely know is sitting across the table from me and freely shares a piece of gossip about a close friend of theirs. When this happens, it sets off warning bells in my head. I immediately make a mental note to never trust that person with any valuable information because there’s a good chance it’ll be shared around to others. When a friend confides in you, take it as a huge compliment as well as a mission. Your friend sees you as their confidant and is trusting you with something that is personal. Respect that. It is their story to tell and not yours. And believe me, if that trust is ever broken, it is very hard to build it back.
By the way – If your friend gives information that could be life threatening, that’s a different matter. Talk to a trusted person in that case.
Be the friend you would want to have
I realize not everyone is great about expressing their emotions easily. It can put you in a vulnerable position. If you find yourself like this, my suggestion would be to simply treat your friend the way you would want them to treat you. This philosophy will never steer you wrong especially if you are both cut from the same cloth. Maybe you both bond over playing Pokémon Go or sitting in silence together on your phones. No words have to be spoken but it’s understood that you both are there for each other. If this is you and your friend, make sure to make the time for those activities so your friend knows that time spent together is important to you.
Friendship is a wonderful opportunity to pour out the love God has shown you.
Romans 12:20 (NLT) says, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
This year for Valentine’s Day, I decided to celebrate by mailing valentines to the special girlfriends in my life. It gave me another opportunity to live out Romans 12:20 by pouring out my heart letting my friends know just how special they are not only to to me but to God as well! I would encourage you to look for similar opportunities. I’m learning day by day how to better cultivate the friendships God has blessed me with. Not only is it making my life so much sweeter; it’s also helping me see just how much God loves and cares for me through the people He places in my life and for that I am truly thankful.