“If you want a friend, first you must be a friend.” I’m sure you have heard this quote before but what I am curious about is if you believe it? Because if I am honest and blunt – two qualities that are sometimes like a bad gift, re-gifted until finally appreciated by the right recipient – then I would say most people don’t want a true friend. They want an agreeable friend.
The problem with that is that a true friend isn’t always agreeable. Friendship means the combination of affection, loyalty, love, respect, and trust. How can you possibly love, respect or trust someone who stands beside you with the sole intent of being pleasing to you instead of being more concerned with being a true friend to you?
There are ten C’s to friendship. I call these the ingredients to Friends with benefits – of the doubt. With these ten C’s put into action within your friendships not only will they thrive but you’ll recognize the difference between a friendship who benefits them or a friendship that benefits you both.
Communication & Contribution. There must be open and honest communication for any relationship to strive, especially a friendship. And, it is a two-way street. Conversations don’t work well when they are one sided. They may be nice if you want to be right all the time, but if you think you’re right all the time, you are already wrong! So. There’s that. Both communication and contribution require feedback and action on both sides. On the days when they can’t pull the full weight of the friendship, you take on the task. You pick up where the other lacks. If you feel hurt, speak it. If you miss them, say it. If you want to see them, get your tush in the car and drop by. The days of “the phone works both ways so they could call me if I mattered to them” only works if you are calling too. So, call your friend!
Consideration. This is one of my top two favorites of the C’s. The reason being is that if consideration is given to any relationship it’s as if it’s the nutrients underground that causes it to grow. The true benefit of a friend is for them to know you well enough to know you meant better. If someone says something that hurts you, but you give them the consideration you already know they deserve, and the benefit of the doubt before you take on any anger or hurt – you’ve already won. A true friend won’t choose to hurt you. When a true friend apologizes to me when they think they have hurt me, my response is “I know your heart, and I know your intentions always come from a good place.” That consideration saves us both wasted time in a sea of assumptions and what ifs that can drown a skilled sailor. By the way, what-ifs usually don’t happen so give your wandering mind and sensitive heart a breather.
Celebration. The girls and tribes that surround each other at each life event and celebrate them, are women after my own heart. You lost 10 lbs, heck yes girl! You got a new job, let’s go to dinner and celebrate! You got the job I applied for too, the better person for the job, won. We are not the others cancellation. We are collaborators doing life together. If your own friends can’t celebrate you than who can? And, if you can’t celebrate your friends then you need to reevaluate how you are “friending.” Being a friend’s cheerleader in life should be a desire that comes wholeheartedly and without any fear of being or receiving less because of it. You purpose set aside by God will never lessen or dissolve by another’s gain or step ahead. Grab a megaphone and shout how awesome your friend did and how proud you are to know a woman who goes for what she wants!
Confrontation and Condoning. Odd right? These two are my FAVORITES. What are these two C’s doing here and how do these two attributes benefit or define a true friendship? Easy. A true friend will confront you and will not condone bad behavior. And, this causes one of the biggest demises in friendships. Who wants a friend that doesn’t accept them treating the other poorly? Or a friend that says you shouldn’t cheat on your spouse? Or, that you should not allow someone to abuse you. God does and I do. We are not here to tell someone it is okay for them to set themselves up to self-destruct or to destroy others. The sin of passivity tells us just that. We are not to idly sit by and do nothing. And, when a friend does something to us, that is wrong, you are supposed to call them out on it. (Matthew 18:15-17) You pull them aside, address the issue face to face, remedy the issue and then forgive. That is friendship. Yet, so many want to be passive and pleasing – or to have others be that way to them. Not me, I want the truth, I want to be held accountable and questioned when necessary. If I am wrong, I will own it and make amends. That is how we grow. (James 4:17, NIV)
Challenge, Confidence & Competition. There is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, right?! But, why are we competitive and how do we benefit? When we see others doing well, we want to do well. That is why people create like-minded circles to work-out, do bible studies with, etc. because can learn so much from the people around us who want better and more for us. I love a friend that challenges me, that adds a dose of healthy competition because they can see my ability as stronger than I can. And, this over time builds confidence, not just in yourself, but in your friendship. When you can sit with someone and they can see you need a boost of confidence and they not only help with that but celebrate when you step up to the challenge, that is beautiful!
Ah, the final C, and the most important, Christ. You had to know this was coming! If you’re not into God, or the bible and I just lost you – please keep reading. Because if you want to be a better friend, it starts with wanting to be a better christian. Christ is love and if we enter any relationship through love – it’s a game changer. With my friendships I’ve realized a great many of them were as if I walked through a crowd and picked from the most broken of people. A beautiful sentiment in part because who that is broken doesn’t deserve or want to be loved? After all God loves me and I have been broken most of my life. (Ecclesiastes 4:19-12)
I love first. I commit first. I do all these C’s first – jumping in with both feet and praying I make a big splash. That splash is for God. You see, it isn’t even about me in the end – it’s about him. That friend that walked away from me, that is okay because I know I did just as God says I should. That friend that needed someone at 1 am and never spoke to me again, that was God using me to help them. I’ve not lost friends; I’ve just been re-purposed to a new friend for whatever he needs of me. And, as a pinch to grow an inch, I’ll throw in a little extra C solely for his glory. Completely. Love others as such, just as he loves us.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7