Sunday, August 3, 2014

Week 26: BE a forever friend Friendship Day!

Friendship is a wonderful gift we receive packaged many different ways throughout our lifetime. There are new friends, old friends, fast friends, delayed friends, childhood friends, church friends, work friends, family friends… And the list goes on. But one type of friend reigns supreme above all others.

The forever friend…

To be and to have forever friends requires a willingness to get a little dirty. Just like any relationship between two totally different people, friendship can get messy. It journeys along a path of sharp turns, steep hills and even the occasional detour. Sometimes, if we’re not careful, life itself can become a chasm between friends. Not everyone will weather the storms or travel the changing seasons with you.

So what’s the secret to forever friendships? As I reflect on the forever friendships I’ve witnessed, there are a few ingredients I have found to be common between them all:

  1. Commitment – I must say I’ve learned what real forever friendship looks like from my parents, and I’m more than sure I pale in comparison to the example they’ve set. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “they just don’t make ‘em like they used to.” I’ve watched my parent’s friendships over the years and thought to myself, “Wow, will I ever have (or BE) a friend (friends) like that.” A dedicated blog post still couldn’t contain all the ways I’ve seen them support each other over the years. Suffice it to say, I’ve seen what “ride or die” looks like, and it’s a beautiful thing. So it’s easy for me to crown commitment as the main ingredient in a forever friendship. People who are willing and planning to be friends forever, no matter what life throws their way. “Friendship divorce” is just not an option.
  2. Acceptance – Well, if you’ve decided you’re in it for the long haul, a little bit of acceptance will certainly go a long way. Let’s face it, people are different. I’ll admit, quirky could easily be my middle name. Relationships flow a whole lot easier when you decide to accept a person for all the quirkiness that friend brings to the table. Doesn’t mean you’ll always agree on everything, and it doesn’t mean you just let everything slide. To me, it mostly means you realize not everyone is just like you (let’s be honest; that’s really what we want – folks to be just like us). People are different, and some of those differences may make the friendship even cooler.
  3. Communication – Obviously to get around some of our uniqueness, quirkiness and individual idiosynCRAZIES (my word) requires the ability to communicate effectively. Forever friends should be people you can talk to about simple things as well as hard things. Sometimes that communication will land on an agreement to disagree, but it should always land on an agreement to move forward, together.
  4. Patience/endurance – As I mentioned before, seasons change. With some of my friends I’ve gone from having an all access pass to talk to them all day every day to barely being able to catch them on the phone at all. And it’s all been because their lifestyle or mine has changed. Children grow up, become active and require attention and participation from their parents. Schedules change, schools change, businesses change, parents pass away or distance prevails. But through it all, forever friends patiently adjust and endure.
  5. Wisdom – A little bit of wisdom helps one navigate the changing seasons of our lives that often stretch our friendships. I’ve learned that wisdom reminds me it’s not all about me. It encourages me to pay attention to the changing seasons in my friends’ lives and get in where I fit in at the time, confidently knowing that the strength of our friendship hasn’t changed. Life has.
  6. Maturity – The point here is simple. All of the above requires one major thing – MATURITY.
  7. Foundation“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14, NASB – This scripture from the bible is often quoted in reference to marriage. However, as a woman of faith in Jesus Christ I believe this scripture is a good foundation for forever friendships, as well. Forever friends share a close bond, similar to marriage. And let me tell you, it’s been quite a blessing to know I can go to my forever friends with a celebration, a dilemma, a sickness, a confession, a failure, an accomplishment, a dream or a goal and know they will not only support me but also pray for me. I won’t say I’ll never befriend someone who doesn’t share my faith. For sometimes, it is in those differences that we see and learn the most about humanity. But I will say that today, my forever friends and I share a common foundation of faith, moral standards and values that has created the firm foundation on which our friendship is built.
  8. Timing – At the end of it all, timing is everything. Forever friends come when you’re ready for them. Back in my twenties, a friendship revolving door seemed absolutely normal. But somewhere along the way I started wanting more and became mature enough to be and to handle more. It was then that I, unwittingly, started saying hello to the first of my forever friends.

Many people cross our paths throughout a lifetime. Some we’ll know and remain acquainted with for many, many years. Yet, few outside our own family members will hunker down in the trenches of our lives and earn the title of “forever friend.” Today, we celebrate them.

So, according to this list, how do you stack up as a forever friend? Did I miss anything? What other items would you add to the list of ingredients for forever friendships?