My brother Greg is the best because he’s one of the few friends I have who is cool with sitting and listening to me monologue for hours on end. Girl friends are amazing. We laugh and cry together. We have the most ridiculous conversations. We’re crazy and giggly. We turn the music up loud, sing at the top of our lungs and have the time of our lives. But sometimes I need a friend who’s willing to be serious with me. Sometimes I need someone who will look at my circumstances objectively and give me some practical advice. Greg is one of those friends. He’s not only willing to sit and listen but he wants to listen. He wants to know what’s going on with me and that means a lot to me.
Whenever I notice something one of my friend’s does that really touches me, I try and mimic them. I’m not always the best listener but I try hard to be one because I know how much it means to me to have someone there who is sincerely interested in hearing what I have to say. If you've ever felt dissatisfied with your friendships, have you considered how much you are willing to listen to others? Friendships are built on intentionality and that includes intentionally listening to the other person and being interested in what they have to say.
This isn’t always easy. Sometimes I lose my patience with my friends. Sometimes I don’t want to listen to them because what they have to say interests them not me. Having similar interests as friends is good, but you don’t have to necessarily be interested in the same things in order to be friends. You simply have to be interested in the other person. I can tell you right now that if there’s one sure way to snuff out the life of a friendship it’s by disregarding your friend’s interests simply because you don’t share them. You can’t say “I care about you” and then not care about what your friend cares about. Sorry, but it doesn’t work.
For instance, my sister Libby is really into composting right now. Composting isn’t necessarily my cup of tea. I think it’s great for our environment and I’m excited to see Libby’s plants and our garden beds benefit from the compost, but ultimately I save my orange peels and apple cores because I want to show Libby that I’m on board if she’s on board. It might not be my cup of tea, but Libby’s my cup of tea and so I’ll support her in her venture. Think of the people who have been there for you while you were performing on the stage, taking that exam, running that race or going through that miserable season in life. Be that person. Be that friend.
All of my friendships are varied and different and all the more beautiful for their diversity. However, every single friendship requires reciprocation, a rhythm of give and take. This doesn’t mean that friendship is about getting what’s fair all the time. Rather friendship should be a commitment to put the others' interests before your own, to give without expecting anything in return. Be invested. Be intentional. Be interested. Be ready and willing to listen.
Photo courtesy of Pinterest. :)