Friendships of Women, Part 3- Be the Kind of Friend You Want

Before we move on into other areas, I wanted to encourage you that one way to make friends is to be friendly. By that, I don't just mean "be extroverted" or some such thing. What I mean is to be the kind of person who you would want as a friend. Some general Do's and Don't's... feel free to add on in the comments.

DO:
- Listen
- Empathize
- Weep with those who weep
- Rejoice with those who rejoice
- Speak the truth in love
- Be transparent
- Share your successes and struggles
- Be genuine
- Live in the now
- Be humble and willing to admit wrong
- Encourage and exhort straight from the Word of God
- Work to make others feel at ease
- Be quick to pray for others

DON'T:
- Hog the conversation
- Be critical or impossible to please
- Gossip (
if you'll do it with her, she figures, you'll do it to her... no one can trust a gossip!)
- Minimize her problems
- Expect her to listen to your problems when you're too busy or unconcerned to listen to hers
- Overinflate the importance of things that are actually side issues (
i.e., the biblicality of breastfeeding, debating whether the husband or wife should oversee bill paying; See Romans 14 for freedom as believers)
- Be so wrapped up in the past or the future that you miss out on the present
- Be a pushover or a follower
- Give human advice from self-help books
- Inflate your successes but ignore your struggles
- Inflate your struggles but ignore your successes
- Get your feelings hurt easily
- Be too proud to say, "I'm sorry"


These are things that ALL of us can work on... considering others before yourself can mean all of the things on this list, and more. I'm sure you have more of these, born from your own experiences... so please feel free to add on your own thoughts for being a good friend in the comments (be sure to specify whether it's a do or a don't!).


p.s.- Don't y'all just LOVE that photo?! It makes me smile and want that kind of close friendship as an elderly woman!

10 comments:

Buffy said...

It's a fabulous photo!

I really like your posts about friendships with women. I know that some Conservative Christian ladies say that you don't need friendships outside your family and that you're wasting your energy by pursuing them but I think women being supportive of other women is a wonderful thing.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jess,

Thanks for the many wonderful posts you have been writing lately. It's always inspiring to stop by your blog.

I love the photo too. It makes me think that is what my best friend and I will be like when we are old (we swam competitively together growing up). I might just have to send it to her.

Thanks for encouraging us to pursue friendships with those who are different from us. I've been on the fence about whether a friendship with someone I used to serve as a librarian can work well - she's older, a different race, an immigrant, and of a vastly different educational and financial background. But we both love reading and doing nice things for others - I think that is a lot to start on, even with so many differences.

For another DO, how about helping wherever you see the opportunity. The woman I mentioned above and I became friends as I offered help beyond the average librarian help as she started back to college - I was inspired by her interest in school and the effort she was putting into it. You never know what good things will happen when you make that little extra effort.

Thanks again! Have a great day.

Jennifer

Kim said...

I love the "Rejoice with those who rejoice" recommendation. It's something I struggle with, particularly when people are rejoicing over something I want but don't have. So thank you for that gentle reminder! :)

Rebecca said...

Somehow I can imagine myself in trouble on just about all the don'ts. Ugh.

But here's a practical do: how about suggesting driving together if you are both going to the same place?

Anna S said...

Jess,

I love the articles about friendship. Thank you. You also mentioned we shouldn't be too proud to say "I'm sorry".

How, indeed, should we handle conflicts? A couple of days ago, a friend of mine asked me to participate in an activity that goes totally against my religious beliefs, and wouldn't take no for an answer. I tried to explain, gently, why I just can't do it, but my efforts were in vain. What should one do in such a situation?

Jess said...

Anna,
Interesting question... I suppose there are several options for you to handle a friend who won't take "no" for an answer.

(1) Keep repeating the same answer over and over until she "gets" it... and choose an answer that is not debatable. For example, "Sorry, Clarice, but I won't be attending." No explanations, no moral reasons, no arguable points... just the plain, clear truth that you won't be attending.

(2) If you feel it's an important point that SHE be made aware of, then be prepared to stand your ground, list out your reasons, and pray for understanding on her part. If you honestly don't intend to go along with what she's asking, then don't even make THAT the debatable point.

(3) Give your answer and then check into a hotel until after the event has passed. And don't answer your phone. (But I wouldn't recommend this option.) ;-)


There ARE friendships that are just for a season, and sometimes friendships come to an end... but I would always try to make sure that it is not ended on a bad note... that understanding and love were sought, even if you each go your separate ways.

And sometimes friendships wax and wane.


Something else that comes to mind, and I'm planning on addressing this in a future post, is that sometimes women friends can get possessive of one another... that we can try to control one another (just as some do with a husband) in order to see "how important we are" in that person's eyes. It's not right and it's not good, but it happens. I think the right thing for this situation may be a firm but gentle answer, followed by an offer to do something else together. For example, "No, I won't be going to the get-together at the bar downtown Friday night, but I'd be glad to go to Panera with you sometime this weekend to grab a coffee and bagel instead."

Hope this helps for now... if not, feel free to clarify and we can discuss this more.

MaryBeth said...

Jess,
I love that you put "gossip" as a don't! I think a lot of women, even christian women, depend too heavily on gossip to bond. I also wanted to suggest another "do". How about praying before you speak? Every relationship will eventualy have some conflict, and I have found even in friendships, it is important for me to spend some time praying if I feel that I have been wronged, or that I have wronged someone. The result a lot of the time is God showwing me that I really don't need to speak at all; either the person the conflict was with will apologise or clear up the misunderstanding, or more likely, I will realize I was just being silly.

Anna S said...

Jess,

Thank you, and I think that in general, you've made several good points. I tried to follow your advice, but here it's much more complicated than a get-together in a bar.

My friend is getting married, and asked me to be her witness. The thing is, her ceremony is - well - I think the closest thing to it is actually pagan. I couldn't bring myself to active participation in something like this.

I suppose this is one of the cases when each goes her own way... *sigh*

I just wish it didn't have to end so badly. Anyway... I'll be looking forward to reading more of your posts!

Kimberly said...

Great post, Jess!
I love the reference to Romans 14 -- sometimes I think I've been put on this earth to be an accountability partner to everyone!
Sooo not true!

Mom said...

Jessica, that was really great. Even at age 50, I need to work on those "don'ts".

One "do" that I thought about was making yourself available to help a friend. I can think about friends in my life that I knew I could call at ANY time, and they would "be there" for me. It doesn't mean they would drop everything and come to me, because at different times in our life, that's impossible, but they would stop and pray for me or just lend an ear. I have also done that for friends over the years, and those are the friends that I still hear from, or who I have wonderful memories about, and think of often. But that also goes back to the "realness" of the relationship. I was told one time by a friend that I was a great listener, and this particular friend would love visiting me for that reason. That was good for me to hear, and it helped me to work even harder on that with other friends.