I recently hosted a Life Group through my local church called Around The Table Dinners. The idea came from my kind friend, Donna Harris and she hosts the Constantly Under Construction Podcast.
Donna had shared about her Around The Table Dinner gatherings she hosts at her house and the second I heard about it, I knew I needed to incorporate them into my life. The premise behind these dinners is, a limited number of women gather, each bringing a portion of the evening’s food and around the table they discuss a topic that they had all prepared beforehand. The subjects are deeper and enables an evening full of genuine conversations that expects transparency and honesty.
For the past couple of months, myself and six other women gathered weekly talking about everything from rejection, to shame, to dreaming God-sized dreams. We laughed until our stomachs hurt and we each had our times of shedding tears while sharing deep past hurts or remembering how Christ was there for us in our times of need.
The one subject I was looking forward to the most was the week we all discussed Friendships. As you know, I write about friendship a lot and what it means to be a godly friend to others. I regularly pursue deep friendships in my own life and encourage you to do the same.
We all shared our history with friendships, the good and the bad. The characteristic traits we all look for in friends are the same. We wanted “that” kind of friend. That friend who takes time for us. That friend who encourages, listens without judgment, who will love us through all the crazy seasons of life, and a friend who will pray for us.
It was deeply encouraging to see how we all wanted the same outcome and all desired the same quality of friendships. I want to share with you a little bit more in-depth what being “that” kind of friend look likes and I hope this with you will encourage you as much as it encouraged me.
Be That Friend Who Makes Their Friends A Priority– Did you know your family could become an idol in your life? Family is important, raising your children will be the greatest job and calling you have in your life, but it’s not the only one. To many, their home and their immediate family is their safe space. It’s where they can be fully themselves without fear of being hurt or rejected. Maybe you can relate? There are people outside of your immediate circle who can enrich your life, love and cheer you on. There are people you can serve, give, and encourage them towards Christ.
Jesus took the risk that exists in friendships. He was lied to, rejected, doubted, questioned, and so much more. And He continued to fight for His friends. He cared about people, had compassion on them, mourned and wept with them, and died for them. After Jesus’ resurrection, His friends continued the mission at hand. They left their safe space, met people, went into their homes, encouraged them, corrected them, and gave them the Good News of Christ. They fought for their friendships like Jesus and we should too.
Be the friend others know will show up, will lend a helping hand, and be an active participant in the relationship. If people were so important to God that He would send His son to die for them, then people need to be important to you.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Be That Friend Who Takes Interest In Their Lives– Ask about their life and follow up because you care. Find ways to help and support them practically.
I understand you’re busy. Please don’t be the friend who reads the texts and never replies. I get it, you read that text and saw the missed call with the best of intentions to respond but then the day got the best of you. When the phone rings, answer. When they text, respond. Don’t leave your friend’s efforts of communication in limbo. There will be times where you cannot answer the call and your text replies will be delayed, but when it’s a constant in your life- that’s when the focus on you and your immediate needs are a little too bright.
I’ve seen plenty of posts on social media of women saying they need the type of friends who will understand that their texts won’t be responded to and the calls will always go to voicemail and the coffee dates will be postponed. Can I challenge that idea for a second?
While it’s valid to have busy seasons (hello, children!) and to be juggling a lot on your plate. It’s never ok to always be in a place where you cut communications with friends simply because you’re busy. When you constantly place your friends in the limbo stage of silence you’re showing them they’re just not important to you. And if your schedule is so full that you physically cannot maintain any sort of communication or relationships with people outside of your family- can I encourage you to do some reevaluating and restructuring of your life?
Be the friend that follow-ups and follows through. It requires effort, but you will never regret building deep friendships with people. You will only regret isolating yourself.
Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
Be That Consistent Friend- There will be plenty of struggles in your friends’ lives. Struggling in their marriage, battling health issues, navigating difficult relationships within their family, disappointment in their job, etc. There will also be great times of blessings. They will experience a lot of winning moments, divine appointments, worldly and heavenly successes, growth of many kinds, financial blessings, etc.
Will you be the friend who is consistent through it all?
You often hear people say you discover who your true friends are when you’re going through a hard season. While there are many truths with that, I want to add to it. You also know who your true friends are when you’re going through a season of great blessings. It’s easy for a lot of people to “feel bad” when someone is down and out. But, it can be a great challenge for people to push past their feelings of jealousy and truly have joy for the wins of others.
Will you be the friend who mourns with them, cries with them, celebrates and cheers them on? Will you choose to actively push aside those human thoughts of, “Why not me?” or “When will it be my turn?” to be there for your friend? Will you choose to consistently respond in a life-giving way?
Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn”
Be That Friend Who Listens and Encourages, Always- Nothing is worse than gathering the guts to share with vulnerability the struggle you’re currently facing with a friend to only have them cut you off, make it about them, or tell you to get over it. Also, while deciding they know everything about your situation and then solve all your problems with unwanted, unmerited, and unasked for advice.
Choose to intently listen no matter how long your friend needs. Be quick to encourage, have discernment on when to give advice, and never judge. Ask about their situation letting them know they don’t have to answer, it shows you’re invested. Most importantly, ask how you can help. But friend, always encourage and do it first.
That is what your friend needs above all else. It will show your friend you’re a trusted and safe space in their life. When your friends walk away from their conversation with you, they should feel loved, encouraged, and supported. Not doubting themselves, feeling bad about themselves, and feeling like they never should have confided in you.
I’ve shared this before with you, encouragement is not surface level positivity. Biblical encouragement shines a light on the truth, even the hard truths. Jesus will bring conviction and correction so, don’t underestimate His capability to do that through encouragement.
Proverbs 16:24 says, “Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
Be That Kind Of Friend Who Offers Grace and Prays- Just like you, your friends will go through many different seasons. Some seasons may draw them near you, while others will pull them inward. Some seasons will call for plenty of coffee dates and phone calls while others will be quick text messages and fewer in-person hangouts.
No matter the season, offer grace. Grace for their situations that they may have told you a lot about but knowing you still don’t know it all. Grace for their areas in life that you have no idea what it’s like to carry that burden. Extend grace through all the mess even when they don’t respond in the manner you wish they did. And for all the times they fail to meet your expectations.
But, don’t forget to pray. Pray for your friends. Stand alongside them and help them fight their battles through prayer. Pray with them, laying hands as scripture tells us to. Prayer is powerful and is a tool that Christ gives us, so use it for your friends too.
Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
You cannot maintain close friendships where you’re heavily involved in the lives of dozens. Just like Jesus, have your close circle. What you put into your friendships is the kind of friendship you will get back. Do whatever works for you in the season you’re currently in, but still, do it- Be “that” kind of friend.