With a Little Help From Your Friends, Family, and a Mentor or Two
We need friends. What would life be without them? Lonely, for one. What does friendship mean? Friends touch our hearts, enrich our lives, bolster our hopes, and forgive our ugly moments. They offer an outside perspective. They know us better than we know ourselves. True friends give sound advice and tell us the truth, even when it hurts. They listen to our woes and our joys and stand by us when no one else will.
The girl you met on the first day of second grade. Your mentor at work. The great aunt who swoops into town to take you to a fancy lunch just when you need it most. Friends who share passions or just live down the street. Through friends we are connected by degrees to every other human being on the planet, so friendship really does bind the world together.
Even better, friends are free of charge. There are no legal ties to friendship, no contracts, usually not even a blood relationship (though being friends with your mom, sisters, or cousins has its own rewards.) They are the people we choose to bond with—and they become our second family. Sometimes they’re way more sane and likable than the one we’re born into.
What about the dreaded fight with your best friend? It leaves you heartsick, and if you can’t patch it up, you’ll feel the ache for a long time to come. Take my advice and do what you can to make it better. Life’s too short to live with regrets, and way too short to live without good friends. When I look back on fights with friends, I cringe at my own silly pride.
The only thing better than having a friend is being a friend. With friendship comes responsibility—the challenge of looking outside ourselves and investing in someone else’s happiness. The greatest reward of friendship is helping your friends become their best in every way.
We don’t always have to donate time and energy to other parts of the world. Sometimes help is needed much closer to home. Is a parent, sibling, spouse, or friend having a difficult time? Let them experience that loving feeling and help lift their spirits. Invite them to coffee or to dinner, surprise them with a simple gift, and take them somewhere they like. Lean forward and listen closely. Just hear them out, because listening is an act of love.
The Wonder of Friends
There’s something about friendship that seems almost magical. Sure, doing something by yourself can be comfortable and easy since you can focus on yourself and what makes you happy. But having someone right there with you, doing all of that alongside you with the additional bonus of cheering you and your achievements on, is a wonder all on its own.
Friends can help so much in all sorts of ways. They are there to navigate the world with you. A friend is the first one you talk to when there’s something on your mind and you absolutely need to get it out into the world. Something to celebrate? You do it together by breaking out the good liquor and toasting to each other’s success. Want to go out and have a day/night to remember? Start and end your adventure with your favorite companion. And for the times you’re feeling drained or needing to heal, their presence is better than medicine with a shoulder to cry on or figuring out your emotions and what you can do by talking it out.
With all of that listed, it sounds like having a friend is a huge thing to have, and it is! They are your platonic soulmates. Their presence in your life is one to cherish, and even if you lose communication over time, your memories of them will still leave a smile on your face. Chances are, they’ll remember their friendship with you just as strongly, too.
Sometimes, it can be scary to give so much of yourself to someone who starts off as a complete stranger. You might be meeting them after previous experiences of being let down by others, or others not giving you the time or appreciation that you deserve. You’re hesitant to bring down those walls again when there is a 50/50 chance of having to rebuild them again. That heartsick feels like it’s enough to never try again.
But that’s the thing about that 50/50 chance: they are taking the same risks as well. They can’t guarantee that they won’t be hurt in the process, too, and are afraid just like you at big fights or having something come between you, too. You and them are giving your friendship that 50/50 chance, making it that you are already in it together. Such a start to a friendship just has to be explored, and all of those wonderful things that come with having/being a friend? That is just the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come for you two. All it needs is to be given the opportunity.
Care and Feeding
Remember, even the strongest of bonds don’t magically work on their own. They need a lot of time, effort, and a tiny bit of love put into those moments you have with others, including those who live down the hallway from you. Think of it like eating nutritional food to strengthen your body. Without food, your body becomes frail, weaker, and, eventually, harder to use. Same thing with friendships.
Sandra Garrett puts it perfectly: “They call it ‘making friends’ for a reason. It takes effort, and the right ingredients.” The recipe for friendship changes for every potential friend. They are different from everyone else like fingerprints, and need a select group of kindness, support, and connection from you that is made just for them. So don’t go throwing in random ingredients. Same goes for them, too.
You are both each other’s culinary master of friendship. Get to know each other’s ingredients. What makes you both you, strengths, flaws, and all. It’ll make the finished meal something to savor even more.
Here are some ideas to keep the connection alive, even with long-distance or those awkward moments that you want to move past together:• Send a joke over text that the both of you will laugh over• Make a to-do list for a day out together• Get together over Zoom game night with some other friends• Share digital photo albums of notable, beautiful, or smile-inducing events that happened today
Don’t be Judgmental; Be Kind Just Because You Can
It’s easy to judge others for their actions and take for granted those we love or those we meet in chance encounters. We sometimes get so caught up in our busy-ness that we forget others are busy too, they have rough days just like us, and they benefit from our kindnesses just as we do from theirs. Go out of your way to smile at strangers, say good morning, say thank you, give a compliment, and listen attentively to someone who needs your ear. Do it because you can, because it feels great, because it makes someone else feel good. Don’t worry about a subsequent thank you; let a thank you be a beautiful perk, rather than an expectation.
This guest post was authored by Becca Anderson
Becca comes from a long line of preachers and teachers from Ohio and Kentucky. The teacher side of her family led Becca to become a women’s studies scholar who writes The Blog of Awesome Women. An avid collector of meditations, prayers, and blessings, she helps run a “Gratitude and Grace Circle” that meets monthly at homes, churches, and bookstores. Becca Anderson credits her spiritual practice with helping in her recovery from cancer and wants to share this with anyone who is facing difficulty in their life. She is the author of Think Happy to Stay Happy, Real Life Mindfulness, and Every Day Thankful. Becca shares her inspirational writings and suggested acts of kindness at https://thedailyinspoblog.wordpress.com/.