Do you ever feel like you are losing touch with your friends. Do you ever feel left out or forgotten by others. Sometimes it feels like our friendships are going backwards instead of growing. Part of it may be the busy season we’re in and part of it may we things we’ll never understand. What should we do when we struggle with friendships in our lives?
It’s not easy to be a friend and I am definitely no expert. I regularly mess up in my friendships. I think it’s even harder to be a giving friend instead of a needing friend. In this fast-paced world and in our lives as busy wives and moms, we have so much going on in our lives, so figuring out how to invest in and grow our friendships is not easy! I constantly need to commit my friendships to the Lord and ask Him to help me to do better – better at dying to self and at being a giver, not a taker!
Now and then I find myself thinking something along these lines… “She’s not being a good friend to me. If she were, she would… ____________ have more time for me, call me more often, have invited me to that event, have remembered my birthday, etc. (- you fill in the blank). I have come to realise that our friends don’t owe us anything. I have come to see that we need to lean fully on Christ and to see that our friendships are gifts from Him, people to serve. I also got to thinking about all the times I have forgotten a friend’s birthday, or had a crazy week and not been in touch, or failed to invite a friend to something. Most of us are in the craziest busiest season of our lives right now with family, homeschooling and business responsibilities. We need to give grace and move on. I decided to work on on being a giving friend, instead of a needing one.
Here are 10 practical ways to strengthen your friendships:
1. Be vulnerable
Be open. Don’t be afraid to let her in. Share what’s going on in your heart. Obviously we need to practice this one with wisdom. You shouldn’t do this unless you trust someone and know their character. I am sure there have been times when we have been hurt by someone but don’t let that close you up. Keep it real, be honest and open, don’t pretend or put on a false front. Invest in your friendship. While we won’t share everything with all our friends, opening up and sharing from your heart is the way that you get closer.
2. Be a blessing
Every now and then do something for your friend that’s a great blessing to her, even if it’s an inconvenience to you. Make a meal for her family – just because. Offer to give her a break and fetch one of her children from an activity. Find out what would bless her and do it. Give more than you take from the relationship.
3. Keep in touch
I don’t know about you but I am always so blessed by those little messages that show me that a friend was thinking of me – that she still cares, even if I haven’t seen her for a while. Send a text or voice message to your friend that will bless them. If you have time to phone and you know they’ll have time to chat – then go for it. A phone call is a wonderful way to connect and care. In my experience though, if I wait till I have time to make a phone call, I often never get there. Sending a quick personal text or voice message is a lovely way to let your friend know that you care. Make it genuine and from the heart, not generic and contrived. Make sure your message fits you and your friend – invest something of yourself in the message without asking for anything back.
4. Make a coffee date
Perhaps you have a friend that you haven’t seen in a while. Ask your friend if you can take her out for coffee to catch up – make a date no matter how far in the future. Enjoy a relaxed uninterrupted conversation and breathe some life into your friendship.
5. Send a card by post
Send her a card (by snail mail!!!!) just to say you appreciate her friendship. Keep it short and simple but make it genuine and from your heart. We all love to get mail – especially if its not a bill!!!!
6. Pray for her
This one should actually be at the top of the list. Ask you friend about specific requests you can pray for or simply pray for her in areas that you know she is struggling.
7. Be available
Obviously we can’t be available all the time, but we can all make time to meet a friend’s need if there is one or if she needs to talk something through. If it’s not easy to get together in person, make time for a Skype or phone call when you won’t be interrupted. Make a plan for the future if you need to.
8. Be okay with NO
Sometimes you’ll need to say no – or hear a no from your friend. Be okay with it. Make sure your friend understands the why behind your no and still feels appreciated. Don’t be defensive with your no and that only creates awkwardness, trust that she will understand. Sometimes she will need to say no to you. Don’t get offended. Give her the space she needs. Don’t be a demanding friend, but ask the Lord for times that will suit both of you to enjoy together.
9. Don’t get offended!
Forgive and forget, never hold a grudge, always give your friend the benefit of the doubt. Continue to give your relationship to the Lord whenever you are hurt, or when things in the friendship are not quite the way you would like them to be. Don’t hold on to any hurts but give them to the Lord and focus on being a giving friend.
10. Check your expectations.
Often our expectations are unrealistic and only cause us heartache. If you have none, it’s easy for your friend to meet them. Don’t make friendship with you another chore – but rather a blessing and a place of refreshing.
Take the time to do what it takes to grow your friendships but don’t lose heart if it doesn’t seem to have much effect. Remember, what you invest is of eternal value. Leave your friendships in the Lord’s capable hands.
What are some of YOUR favorite ways to bless your friends?