Learning How to be a Good Friend and Finding Your Tribe

A Girls’ Weekend

I am sure everyone has slightly (or dramatically) different ideas of what makes up a fun girls’ weekend. I’m sure I’ve experienced the gamut of them all (well..maybe not alllll) in different stages throughout my life.  However, in this stage of being married and having children, a weekend away for myself and my girlfriends looks a lot like a weekend at the beach in a cozy cottage where we transition between the beach and back to sitting around the living room on oversized comfy couches and swivel chairs. We talk A LOT…and drink coffee…and eat…and laugh. These women are my tribe. They are the friends with whom I cry, share my heart, seek prayer, and who get to laugh at my latest most embarrassing moments. We let our hair down, take our makeup off or keep it on…who cares? The point…we simply relax and spend time together, going over all of the most recent happenings in each others’ lives…while also *possibly* watching a little football and a few SNL sketches (ahem).

Learning As We Go

These friendships don’t just happen overnight. Meaningful friendships take time to nurture and build…shared experiences, like-mindedness, connecting with each other. Throughout life, some friends will come and go while others will stay forever. I have found that in every stage of life, the simple steps to creating new friendships (and keeping the old – *cue Girl Scouts*) have been the same.  I wanted to share a few thoughts here as I’ve recently met people that have confessed they really have a hard time making friends. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert, but I have a few tried and true tricks (*wink*) up my sleeve that have always served me well. 

To make a friend, you have to be a friend. Now this may sound a bit too simple and cliche, but the truth is we can often put ourselves first instead of the other person. We like to be served rather than serve. Be the kind of friend you would want in someone befriending you. If this means taking them dinner when they’re sick, or just had surgery, or just lost a baby, that’s what you do.  This also means celebrating times of joy and happiness, as well as walking through trials with them. Intentionality and authenticity in friendships creates a foundation of pure friendship gold.

Ask questions….and listen. All too often, we like to focus on ourselves with the pretense of focusing on the other person. We may even ask a good question, but while they are answering, we’re thinking of our own response back instead of really listening. Asking questions and showing interest in another person’s life opens doors wide open most of the time, and it’s a helpful tool in finding common ground.

Choose to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is the glue to community. If everything is kept on a shallow level with conversation, the friendship itself will be shallow as well. Putting yourself out there is a huge risk, and it may not be met with matching vulnerability. But, the risk is worth it. The stepping out of your comfort zone and seeking to dive into deeper conversations that really matter is the world in which you will find your tribe.

Seek out the good in people. Be lighthearted. Don’t be controversial ALL.THE.TIME.  Most people actually don’t like to have heated discussions every time they have a conversation. Give people the benefit of the doubt, and choose to think on truth, not perceived truth. You may be surprised to find you have a lot (or a little) in common and really enjoy being around that new someone. Honey works better than vinegar.

Get involved in community activities.  Or church activities. Or Bible study. Or a book club. Or a gardening club. Your choice! There are as many different things to be involved in as there are people! In other words, make time to make new friends. But remember, be engaging. Seek out someone to talk with, ask them questions, and find out what got them interested in that same activity.  Here’s the kicker: You’ll be no worse off than when you started. In fact, you’ll probably be 100% better because you could have made a new friend. 

More is Caught Than Taught

This is the thing. As much as some people say throughout their lives, “I never want to be like my parents”, we all end up being just like our parents, for better or for worse. We have the unique opportunity to pass on to our children how to be a good friend. Teaching our children how to love others by default as they watch us and/or by teaching them directly while engaging their hearts is going to benefit them for a lifetime.  Everyone wants to love and be loved, and to feel accepted in some way. It is my hope that my daughter grows up knowing how to be a good friend and that she’s surrounded by many good friends. Although I would love to always be the one she runs to in life (besides The Lord), I trust that friends will be in her life long after I’m gone. She will need them as much as I need my friends now, and have throughout my life. Having a tribe of girlfriends brings support emotionally and practically, while uplifting the soul. 

So, tell me…what has been your favorite weekend girls’ getaway?

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