“It’s the little moments that turn friends into family.”
Three years ago, I sat in my almost empty house as I grieved deeply, preparing to leave a sweet community of friends whom we called “framily”.
After 9 years of investing in each others lives, working side by side in our community, our children playing together and double dates with our husbands–I was now having to say goodbye to my tribe, my community, our “framily”. It was one of the most painful things I’ve had to do.
I grieved the loss of doing life with those friends and my heart felt overwhelmed at the thought of starting all over again in this thing we call friendship.
Over the years God has taught me many things through the sweet and heart-wrenching friendships he’s put in my life. Here are a few things I’ve learned.
Small = Big
I teach parenting workshops and one of the concepts I enjoy talking about is that of “filling your child’s bucket”. Parents immediately picture the grand things they will do from now on to “fill their child’s bucket” but I constantly remind them it’s the “small offerings” in the day-to-day stuff that make the biggest impact.
The same applies to our friendships–it’s the little things.
Catch and Release
The book “Same Kind of Different as Me” is about an unlikely friendship between a rich man and a homeless man. One of the lessons learned from this true story is the whole idea of “catch and release”. It’s the idea of friendships being fickle, so when things get hard, uncomfortable or that friend no longer meets our needs, we release them.
Denver says, “So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin’ for a friend you just gon’ catch and release, then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend.’…
Suddenly his eyes gentled and he spoke more softly than before: ‘But if you is lookin for a REAL friend, then I’ll be one. Forever.”
It’s hard to patiently wait and watch the seed of friendship grow and allow it to get strong over a period of “little moments” but that’s how strong foundations are built. These moments will look very different for each friendship but it can be as simple as texting a gif, or patiently listening to their interests that has nothing to do with what you like, carving out time for each other even if it’s short spurts of meeting up at a playground.
I’m not saying this is going to be a piece of cake but here’s the hard and honest truth–You have to invest a little of yourself, if you want more than a casual acquaintance!
The Big Moments
These big moments can be wonderful but they are more like the icing on the cake, they are not the cake.
On social media we mostly see the “big moments” like girls night outs, girl getaways, big cook outs where everyones children are happily playing with each other or friend reunions.
But don’t be fooled…
Just because we don’t see the small intentional moments of a mom watching her friend’s kids who are sick so her friend can get a nap. Or images of the tears that come from being hurt by that friend and the courage it takes to talk it through.
You may not see the texts that say, “Hey! I prayed for you today.” Or the serious but joking text that reads, ” Check on me, I’m home alone with the kids and I just started my cycle.”
Doesn’t mean they aren’t happening, they are! My life is a testimony of countless small offerings from precious friends. These gifts may have seemed small to someone else but they meant the world to me. It’s these small gifts that weave our paths into strong cords.
Solid friendships are built on small offerings of intentionality and choosing to invest in that friend over a course of weeks, and months that turn into years.
Our willingness to make room for others is a good place to start.
To “make room” what does that mean exactly in a world where there is barely enough room for us to breathe?
I know we are all short on time but the gifts of love are small. You “make room” when you check up on a friend, remember to ask them about that interview, work out a misunderstanding, text her to make sure she’s okay. It’s showing up with a meal for her family, or letting go of a hurtful word because you know they’re on your side and they weren’t trying to hurt you.
You make room when you open up and share what God is teaching you, what’s been hard, when you’re real.
I constantly hear women say how frustrating it is to make friends and how they haven’t had much luck making real friendships but as we continue to talk they confess– “I have not made time to invest in that friendship.”
I get it, life is busy. But I don’t think this is a new struggle this has been hard for centuries. We see in the book of Hebrews we see the author encouraging them to consider how to stir up on another… not neglecting to meet together.
It was a struggle then but it’s those thousand small offerings that add up and turn a casual acquaintance into a deep friendship that can battle a storm.
If your friendship are only filled with the big moments like girls nite out or the holiday party you’ll end up walking away frustrated with the lack of depth and commitment.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,” Hebrews 10: 24-25
When the Seed Doesn’t Grow
Here’s the thing not everyone will accept our “small offerings” nor value them, reciprocate or enjoy what we we have to give.
Sometimes no matter what we do that seed will not grow.
Just like when you plant a real seed you have no guarantee that it will yield any fruit or for that it will grow and the same goes with friendships. All you can do is your part and trust God will use all of it including your pain for His glory.
I have experienced the gut wrenching pain that comes from being misjudged, betrayed, rejected and I wish I could tell you it won’t ever happen. But what I can tell you is there is hope so don’t go packing your bags and become a hermit.He will bring healing!
Remember we do not walk alone in this journey of being misjudged, betrayed, rejected–Jesus knows exactly what that feels like.
Ask Him to help you remain soft and transparent so you can move forward with discernment not bitterness. We can “live loved” because He loves us just as we are and as a result we overflow with His love. He doesn’t ask us us to do something he hasn’t already done. He is the initiator and pursuer of our souls.
Write a Different Story
We can’t change what has happened to us nor can we change hearts but we can write a different story for ourselves. So if you’ve put a period at the end of your last friendship gone wrong remember God has always had a comma there because he’s not done with your friendship story. So don’t put your pencil away so quickly.
You have the ability to change the hate, gossip, caddy or fake friendships that might surround you or currently have hurt you. With God as your example and the Holy Spirit in us we can rewrite the dialogue.
If you feel like the women around you are hurtful, gossipy and caddy I want to tell you that God can use you to change the narrative of friendships for yourself and the women around you.
God can use your ache and loneliness to draw women into a different dialogue of friendship that doesn’t include gossip or jealousy but instead is built on Him. Let him continue writing this story.
Often we walk into social gatherings wondering what will we get out of it or maybe I’m the only one who does this. I have a feeling I’m not. Let’s change that way of thinking!
You can make a difference when you walk into a room by going in with the perspective of who needs a friend, who can I encourage…
Own Your Stuff
I’ve also learned that I have to own up to my own stuff. In order to grow in a friendship, you have to put your finger on your own insecurities. We walk around carrying messages from our past that are unhealthy and they spill over into our relationships. We need to ask God to give us the eyes to see the unhealthy patterns and the boldness to say “This has to stop.”
Sometimes we limit emotional intimacy with people because of the voices that we aren’t even aware of but are in our head. Ask God to give you wisdom and help you see what is happening and the courage to dig deeper so you can remove them.
We have to remind ourselves that He loves us and we love because He first loved us. That’s the foundation of our friendship–His love. Not what we own, can do, don’t do, or look like but it’s Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith and that’s what we build our friendships on.
The best way to find a friend is to be a friend.
Where are you?
No matter where you find yourself in your friendships whether your heart is overflowing or if it’s dry and lonely season please remember that Jesus is your friend who is closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24) You are not alone.
Remember we live in a fallen world on this side of heaven and our friends, family, and people at some point will let us down because they aren’t perfect. But we can always trust that God works all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28)
I leave you with this as we move forward in creating a small circle of deep friendships:
You can pick your friends and choose who you’ll share the deeper parts of yourself with but you can’t pick and choose who you’ll be kind to, kindness is shared with everyone.”