Real Friendship Isn’t Lazy
By Bethany Agustine
How do we get to a place of deep friendship? How do you come out of hiding from behind the walls we have long used as protection?
Laying on the floor sandwiched between the dark of night and your anxiety — you call them. The same friend that listens to what it feels like to be walking through some of the darkest parts of your marriage. No judgment only love. They’re crying, but only because you are sitting in your own puddle of tears and they see YOU and not the mess you are making. This is the friend that we all want. To be seen, known, loved, just for who we are with no pretense, with no walls up. To know we don’t have to protect ourselves, because they are our fierce defender. How do you even get to that place in friendship? How do you come out of hiding from behind the walls you have long used as protection?
I have learned over the years; it’s not going to happen if it doesn’t start with me. I am the initiator of true, trusting vulnerability in friendship. Before I go on, let me be clear, not every person I have met is trustworthy of deep vulnerability.
“…not every person I have met is trustworthy of deep vulnerability.”
Sadly that power is mis-given and given too soon and people get hurt. I have gotten hurt. But I do think every person deserves to have that kind of friendship. So how do you start to get there? Here’s the path I have learned to follow.
this includes meeting someone new, asking about their life, GENUINELY WANTING TO KNOW THE ANSWERS. People can sniff out when you aren’t being genuine, or even really listening when they talk. Show them that you care to hear what they are saying by making eye contact (yes it’s that simple but we are more distracted than you probably think), having open and inviting body language, and responding to what they say. ASK MORE QUESTIONS. The beginning of making a friend is being a friend.
“The beginning of making a friend is being a friend.”
Wanting to know more about another person’s experiences and not so that I can get a turn to finally talk about myself. Lay down that self-centered notion that it’s all about you and people will notice. When you can show them that you are trustworthy in listening and caring about what they are speaking about, they will start to trust you with more. They will also want to know about you. Now you can share. Start light. Focus on how you relate to the other person and experiences you have shared that are similar. Have fun together. Never underestimate the power of shared experience. Don’t just talk. DO. Get involved in their life. You will learn about them as a person and vise versa when you do things together. You will witness their character and interactions with others. As you do this, the next phase comes naturally.
This is where the art of encouragement really comes into play. Real friendship is when you are able to and excited to share your hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations. It’s more than just surface stuff. This is where you as the friend, have to lead the way in vulnerability. When you open up and share about this level of your thoughts, and it invites them to be vulnerable in this area as well. It says, “I’m confidant enough and comfortable enough in this friendship to trust you with these treasures that I have had stored up in my heart and mind.”
Another way to lead the way toward a deeper friendship is to see the other person’s strengths and aspects of beauty, call them to light. Hold up a mirror for them with your words and show them how you see them as beautiful. Show them the aspects of their character that are worth praise and admiration. When you do this from a genuine place of honesty, they sense that you are not just in it to flatter them, but most of the time it unlocks a deeper level of trust and friendship. It requires us to be intentional about our thoughts and observations of the other person, because real friendship isn’t lazy. It can’t be. Real friendship takes the time to make mental notes of what is beautiful or lovely about someone else. Real friendship remembers important dates and events so that it can bring the right word of encouragement when it is needed.
The Deepest Levels of Friendship come when hardship is faced. Every step you’ve taken has been leading up to this point. The point at which your friendship is tested is the point at which real friendship is forged. This can look like hard life circumstances or even just disagreement and conflict. Yes, conflict. Deep friendship can come from conflict.
“Deep friendship can come from conflict.”
Either way, in your journey of friendship, if you have made it to this point, is usually worth fighting for. So fight. Fight for them, disagree with them, but come out the other side closer. Conflict between each other is not something we should be scared of, but something we should embrace. When done in a healthy way, conflict almost always opens new doors to vulnerability. It is an opportunity to know the other person deeper, in a new way. It’s an opportunity to see a new part of their heart and learn more about their character. It’s also an opportunity for you to learn about yourself. If the hardship is outside the friendship it will bring opportunity for empathy, support, and ways to show up for each other in a greater more concrete way.
When we go through deep waters, we find the ones that we can truly trust and rely on. They are the ones who cry deep tears with us. They are the ones who know the anniversary death of a loved one, or the pain you’re walking through with your miscarriage. They are the ones who show up with tacos because they know you don’t have the bandwidth to feed yourself in the middle of the mess. They are the ones who stuck it out through the years of disagreements, and they are the same ones who give you grace when you don’t get it right. They are the ones who can call forth the beauty stored up inside you, and speak the right words of encouragement that no one else could possibly know you needed. They are the real friends.
I hope that you and I both can be that for someone. As I am learning, learn along with me. All it takes to have a real friend is to BE a real friend.
By Bethany Agustine