Last year a time like now I was coveting strong female friendships. God is so kind to me. In the past 12 months I have made friends in church, friends in my neighbourhood, mom friends, Bible study friends, prayer partner friends, rekindled college friendships…
I am still learning on how to be a friend, to make friends to keep friends. Here are some things I have learnt:
If you want someone as your friend, make it happen. I am no longer scared of approaching women I admire and introducing myself and striking a conversation. I am no longer scared of knocking on doors of people I would like to get to know better. I call the people I have missed or need in my life even if they don’t call me and I try to build common ground/rekindle lost ties. Of course things don’t always turn out rosy but I am trying.
Be available. For the time she needs company to a bridal shower across town or a chaperone at a blind date or for shopping at Toi Market or for a function at her shags. Be there when she needs to call someone and rant for 30 minutes or talk about this great idea that just crossed her mind or when she just wants to be around another person because she had a terrible day.
Receive love the way it comes. May be I’m the kind that loves with food. Or unsolicited visits to your house. May be I love by baring my heart out. Or with gifts and parties and out of town trips. Let me give my love the way I know to. Don’t seek to be loved on your terms.
Let go of hurts. Close friends will hurt each other. you will get bored, fail each other, say hurtful things, do bad things. but as long as both your hearts are in the right place, you will be fine. Give yourselves time, speak about what happened (or not) and pick up the pieces, wiser.
Don’t judge. Their choices, fears, sense of judgement, residential address, clothes, significant other… Of course you will advise. You should voice your opinion. But friendship is on as-is basis. If your friend’s choices or habits give yo sleepless nights, then you aren’t quite ready to be besties.
Be a good story teller. Female friendships exist to allow us to talk. This unfortunately means you will sometimes betray confidences and hear confidences betrayed. As long as you are not malicious in spreading information, you are safe. Ever wondered why friends tag each other when stuff is about to hit the fan on Kilimani Mums?
Always remember the good times. Remember when she traveled to your shags to cook for your ruracio. or when she gathered a party for your baby shower. or camped at your hospital bed till you got well. or when she spent the night on your couch because you couldn’t be alone that night. remember the clothes or shows she gave you for a date and never asked for them back. or the emergency loans she has sorted you with. even when testing times come, you can ride on these pleasant memories to bring you to sunny friendly grounds. Don’t forget the past.
Like and comment on each others status updates, Instagram photos and reshare blog posts because that’s what friends do. We all need to know at least one person is interested in our lives.
Avoid competing against each other no mater how hard the temptation. I know you want to be like them when you grow up and there will be the pressure to change jobs because your friend did, or overhaul the kitchen because she bought new dinner sets but just don’t. Pray that God will give you the wisdom and self control to refrain from pulling a one up on your friends.
Find something positive and strong that you can learn from your friend and use that to grow yourself. Whenever I am stressing whether to buy a fashion item, i ask myself whether XXX would wear it cos she knows just what to wear. If she wouldn’t, then I don’t buy/wear it. The reference point can be anything- parenting, anger control, relationships with family– how would so and so handle this? on that note, your best friends should be better at you at least on one thing. You should have something you admire in them and them you. that way you learn from each other, build each other up, carry each other.
Keep each other grounded. be their voice of reason when they can’t think straight. call or visit and ask the difficult questions they are afraid of even asking themselves. You keep each other accountable.
Speak the truth in love. If she needs to change an outfit or her hair or attitude, let her hear it from you first. If she needs a reality check, let it be from you first. Don’t let your friend make a bad decision (even a purchase decision) while you are there and saying nothing. She may not listen to you but she will know you had a her back at all times.
Open your hearts mutually. Share confidences. A friendship where only one person is open will eventually fail. share intimacies. share thoughts and ideas. share fears. share prayer items. share past hurt/joys/successes. share dreams and plans. You friends should be able to see a car or sofa or kitchen or shoes and think of you because they know your heart. And when things are happening in your life let your friends know. Don’t say you are fine when you are not. Lt me not be discovering three weeks down the line that you lost your job or was sick in hospital or have a new beau or are pregnant and yet i never heard it from you. It makes my friendship to feel slighted, like you don’t trust me enough to handle the good and bad in your life
Your friendships don’t have to involve you spouses; although it is probably good if they do. Expecting your significant other or kids to have chemistry with your friend’s significant other is expecting a little too much. That said, you need to try and like what/whom she treasures. you can’t not stand my husband or kids and you are my friend.
Stay steadfast. All friendships will get tested. May be the person you consider your great friend isn’t feeling you all that much during a particular season. May be they are that much into you as you are into them. May be life is getting busy and you are in different seasons of life. But if you truly want this friendship to be for keeps, don’t give up on it. keep calling. Keep texting. Stay genuine. Stay true.
Know when you have found the real deal and cherish it. Call. Be there for her. Pray for her. Love her kids and dogs and parents. Respect her spouse and siblings. Respect her house. Give of yourself and your substance.