With the start of a new year, I’ve been reflecting on all of my precious friendships. These people have carried me through thick and thin, and I’m truly honored and blessed to have them in my life. But with all the gratitude, I also came to the realization that I’ve been taking many of these relationships for granted. So one of my New Year’s resolutions? Being a better friend! So here are some practical tips…
- BE INTENTIONAL
No more of that “always waiting for them to text me first” nonsense. Just as much as you appreciate them reaching out to you first, why don’t YOU reach out to them? And don’t just text them, why not give them an audio/video call? I know that this generation is very much a text/messenger generation, but what’s so bad about hearing the voices and seeing the faces of the people you love? And don’t just leave it at a call, actually make an effort to set up plans to meet. In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s so easy for friends to say, “Yeah, we should totally hang out!” But these words are just empty and meaningless without any ACTION! BE INTENTIONAL.
- PUT THAT PHONE AWAY
I admit I’m really bad at this one too. But as I’ve made a more consistent effort to be off my cellular device and engaged with the person in front of me, I realized how much it actually bothered me when they’re on their phone. And as I looked around, I realized how sad it made me feel to see other friends, couples, and families, all silently sitting together as they endlessly scrolled on their glowing screens when they could be building real life connections with the people sitting right in front of them. So put that phone away and be engaged!
- BE ENGAGED
Picking up on the previous point, make sure you’re ENGAGED with the people that you’re with. Putting your phone away definitely helps, but that doesn’t mean that all distractions are now gone. Sometimes it’s easy to zone out of the present. When you’ve had a long day at work and/or school, sometimes the last thing you want to do is be engaged. You just can’t help it. Your mind wanders, your eyes start drooping, it just can’t be helped. But WAIT. You actually CAN help it. Because your friends are worth it. True friendships are built upon love, and a person who loves well does not neglect the person in front of them. Honor your commitment to being a loving, intentional friend. Know what’s going on in their lives, remember the things they ask prayer for and ACTUALLY pray! Don’t tune out and think about what you’re going to have for dinner or what your girlfriend/boyfriend is doing. BE ENGAGED and show your friends that you actually care.
We all have that friend. That friend that doesn’t really make the smartest decisions. That friend that is mega-emotional and it seems like you just got off a rollercoaster by the end of your time with them. That friend that just really needs some anchoring and stabilizing. And that’s okay because I was once that friend. But when we find ourselves talking with one of these friends, what is our first response? To immediately shut them down, tell them they’re doing everything wrong, and bring the hammer down on them? Maybe. But in most cases, your friend just needs someone to listen to them. SO LISTEN. Really pay attention to what they’re trying to say, withholding any judgment and the temptation to “preach” at them. And once they’re done talking, be wise in how you respond. There definitely are times that you need to bring the hammer down IN LOVE, but there are also times when it’s just appropriate to not say or do anything at all. Just a simple, “Thank you for sharing this with me,” means the world to them. So listen and respond with wisdom in each circumstance.
How often do you pray for your friends? I’ll be the first to admit… Not that often. It’s easy to pray for our own needs, but are we regularly praying for the needs/dreams/hopes/hurts that our friends are experiencing? When our friends message us with prayer requests and we respond, “Praying!” Are we really praying? As Christians, we know the power of prayer, so why don’t we pray more for our loved ones? When you really come to value and love your friends, pray with them and for them!
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. [Proverbs 17:17]