Cultivating Long and Healthy Friendships
Updated: Mar 11, 2021
I want to talk about friendships in adulthood.
I know they can be hard to navigate sometimes. I know time gets in the way. We want to stay caught up, but we get wrapped up in other things that we sum up as life. Often times I hear it quoted as "Life gets in the way." Trust me when I say, I get that. In those early months of marriage, motherhood, moving, it's always tricky to stay in touch. Yet I'd notice that with more time that went by, I'd start feeling a little less like myself. Those conversations that you'd normally have with girlfriends, I'd try and have with my husband, and as much as I love that man, he definitely doesn't want to spend all day telling me which outfits he likes best or silly chatter about celebrity couples. Ya know, the usual. Kidding. Kind of.
On a serious note, there are certain conversations and experiences that I believe are meant to be shared between and in female friendships. I stand firm in belief that we need community in our lives in order to live fully and well. That community shared is always one that steps in to pick up the slack, lend a hand, show up when another can't, or simply be there when you need them. I've learned over the years that friendships like that aren't exactly easy to come by, but when you do find them, hang on to them. You'll need those women to get through some tough seasons.
So today I want to share five things I've learned along the way to find and hold onto those friendships. Hopefully they will help you to grow in them for a long time to come.
1. Be supportive and be supported.
We live in a society that places females in competition with one another. Isn't that so insane? That I, as a woman, have to compete with another woman? For WHAT? Sister, we are in this fight TOGETHER. We fight side by side. To shatter ceilings, stereotypes, roles, you name it. We should never be fighting one another. Always lift your friends. Understand that their winning season is NOT your losing season. Your time will come. Cheer for them, fight FOR them, uplift them always. When it comes your time to have your moment, the right friends will be cheering for you too. Link arms with them.
2. Carve out time for them.
I know full and well how crazy life can get. Make intentional time for your friendships, and when you do, BE INTENTIONAL. Listen to them, talk to them, engage with them. Put your phone down. Make the time to put away distractions for a while and focus on conversation. You have no idea what they are walking through. Be there. I promise you when you do they will notice. You never know when you may need them for the same thing.
3. Distance isn't the end of friendship.
I get it. Military life, going off to college, moving for whatever reason can damage a friendship. You grow apart and then suddenly you aren't talking anymore. My best friend lives on the mainland. Yet, we make time. We both have two year olds. We both have busy schedules. Yet, we still find time at least weekly to catch up and hear about what's going on in the other person's life. That was a friendship I didn't want drifting apart so I did my best to create a routine to make sure we stood rooted in friendship. They make planes, trains, and cars for travel. If you can, try and pick a time to visit with each other. Sure, it's different, but it becomes the new normal. Distance doesn't have to mean the friendship is over. It just means you need to decide how important the friendship is and make the time. Whether it's a simple text checking in, scheduling phone calls, planning a trip, you can make it work. You just have to put the work in.
4. Talk it out.
As women, we are naturally emotional creatures. A lot of times something is said that we may take the wrong way. However, sometimes it doesn't get talked about right away. Resentment or passive aggression may build and suddenly there is a tension there that was not there before. Most times, what we took the wrong way wasn't even how it was intended. I cannot tell you how many times this has happened in my lifetime. The key for me now is to address it right away. I want to live in peace, therefore in order to have peace I must create it around me. For someone with anxiety, it's easy to let words get away from us. We sometimes build them and make them larger than they truly are, so I have to address them right away. It doesn't have to be a harsh conversation, but it does need to be a conversation. Maybe ask the person to explain what they meant by what they said so you can better understand. Don't let small issues build to bitter resentment. Tackle them on in front of you.
5. To have a friend, you have to be a friend.
I love that phrase. I once heard "Root for each other and grow together." That's how I embrace friendships. I strive to be the best friend that I can be, but I also do not allow myself to continue to pour into friendships that aren't serving me as well. Over time, it's easy to wonder why we are feeling empty in relationships that are draining us. You can't pour from an empty cup, right? Your friendships should be pouring back into you as well. If they are toxic, draining you, making you feel small or less that, it's okay to walk away. The right people will come into your life. I can promise you that. Pray peace and warmth over them and gently close the door. God has a plan for them just as He has one for you. Be a friend, and you'll attract good ones.
I hope you got something from this. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.