Three Ways to Cultivate Healthy Friendships
Think about your closest friends. Why are they so near and dear to you? What have they done or said that has caused you to cherish them the way you do? They probably make you feel loved, give you room to be yourself, and refresh you when you are with them. While we may subconsciously assume otherwise, friendships are not inherently healthy. It takes work to foster a healthy friendship. It requires intention and forethought, sacrifice and grace. Friendships are a gift, one intended to bless us, not harm us. In our effort to develop healthy friendships we stretch our understanding of love, sacrifice, grace, and refreshment. We are reminded, in the companionship of dear friends, we are never alone. Healthy friendships enrich our lives in ways nothing else possibly could.
Three ways to cultivate healthy friendships:
- Develop Honest Expectations of Each Other
Others in our lives won’t fulfill us. When we expect another person to make us happy we have made a misstep. We can’t put on another what only Christ can fulfill. It’s not her job. It’s never our friend’s job to keep you or I happy and fulfill our emotional tank in a way only Christ can. We seek not to rely on a girlfriend to be our everything but to be our kindred spirit. To be one who we can share our lives with. We offer our vulnerability as she offers up her own.
We aren’t in control of someone else and must always remember our friend is a living breathing human being with her own thoughts and will, not available to us whenever we want. Loving friendships require spoken healthy boundaries and expectations, never assumed.
- Forgive Each Other
The world is real, not ideal. Eventually, a friend is going to make you mad. She’ll unintentionally hurt you and you may unintentionally hurt her. We can’t expect perfection from our selves or others. Not one of us is born with perfect relationship skills. To see the perfect and imperfect in a friend and choose to care for her heart is an act of grace. Forgiveness is a gift to our friend and to our own hearts. We free ourselves from the bondage of hate, bitterness and retaliation as we forgive others.
- Refresh Each Other
In vibrant and grace-filled relationships we share our hurts, sins, and burdens. We hold each other accountable and seek Christ to fulfill our every need. We echo love, the honest truth, and encouragement for the road ahead. We see our friends for who they are, for who God is making them to be, and we find our role in their lives. We mourn. We cry. We lament over losses. In the same vulnerability, we rejoice. We celebrate her victories.
We are refreshed with a healthy friend because we learn how to serve her in her most broken and anxious moments, as well as the best moments of her life. She serves us in our most broken and anxious moments, as well as the best moments of our lives. “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” (Proverbs 29:9 MSG)
All of our friends are teachers and learners. Their own lives and love provide a wealth of knowledge that will sweeten our days. As they serve Christ and abide in His love we can learn from their rhythms of forgiveness, honesty, and love. Healthy, kindred friendship is a rare rose. Cultivate it, sow into it. Believe the world for the other. As you do, your friendship will refresh you with its honesty, truth, and health. It will serve as a gift to remind you that you were never intended to live your life alone.
Tiffany Bluhm is the author of Never Alone and its companion Bible study. She is a speaker and writer who is passionate about helping women come to know their value and purpose because of a loving, redeeming God. In a style that speaks to women right where they are, she shares insights from a life spent chasing after Jesus. Read her blog at www.TiffanyBluhm.com.