10 Secrets to Healthy Friendship

Friends-BW

Tears poured, apologies and confessions were spoken. As words came, misunderstandings were unearthed. Things began to make sense. Our hearts were mending. Forgiveness was quick once we muddled through communicating. It wasn’t easy, but oh so much healing followed.

You know Carole Ann, my “Ana Duo,” the one who travels to do ministry with me, and the one I’ve been friends with for nearly 10 years? Yes. That one! We had spoken only briefly and hadn’t spent time together for about a year. It was a deeply hurtful time. I’ll spare you the details, but we clearly could’ve given up.

Oh there have been so many times we could’ve said forget it. But love. We love each other, and we know God hand-picked and knitted our friendship together. And when we begin to doubt, He shows us. He confirms over and over again. Giving up is easy. Seeing people through their healing and their yuck is not. Love really is a choice, which means so is friendship.

In my lifetime in regard to “friends,” I’ve experienced betrayal, rejection, manipulation, the whole gamut really. I’ve had friends leave me, and on a couple of occasions, I’ve had to be the one to leave. For me, walking away from a close friendship was one of the most difficult things of my life because I’m loyal (not a quitter), and I hate hurting people. Unfortunately it’s okay, even necessary, to call it quits if the relationship isn’t healthy. Going separate ways may be what’s best for both people.

Fortunately with Carole and so many others I’ve been blessed to call friend, we’ve chosen to stay the course and love one another through our stuff.

So what defines a healthy friendship, and how do we get there? I write, not as an expert, but definitely from personal experience.

1. Bring real, honest communication. Who needs a counselor when they can have the listening ear of a true friend? So listen carefully and always nurture trust with honesty. Speaking the truth may hurt, so do it in love and gentleness. Approach is key.

2. Forgive quickly. A real friend knows your junk. They’ve seen you at your worst and choose to love anyway.

3. Be positive. Don’t be a life-sucker but rather a life-giver. Who needs an energy drink when they can have a good belly laugh with a friend? Encourage one another and laugh often. It’s like throwing fertilizer on the friendship garden. It will thrive in this environment.

4. Minimize expectations. We expect friends to treat us the way we would treat them, right? I mean it only makes sense. But maybe their standards are different from ours. Or maybe they just don’t know any better. As difficult as it is, try to get rid of any expectations. They only frustrate the friendship and everyone involved.

5. Lay down insecurities. Trust one another. Don’t compare yourselves to one another. Don’t compete. And don’t smother. We can all have more than one friend. It’s ok. Really! Just because your closest friend has other friends doesn’t mean she loves you any less. No one is going to take your place. As a matter of fact, they can’t. You fill a place with your friend that only you can fill.

6. Let your friend in. Have you ever met one of those people who want to know all of your dirt but they keep you at arm’s length? They only let you get so close, then they shut down? I’ve met her. She frustrates me. Transparency and openness come with trust, but they are a necessity to have an intimate friendship. End of story.

7. Create healthy boundaries. Don’t try being a savior. As women, we desire to be needed. Needy people are often drawn to people who want to be needed. (Hope you followed). This can create a perfect storm for co-dependency. Depend on no one but God for your fulfillment and self-worth. He’s the only one who can meet all of our needs. And if you’re married, put your marriage before any friendship.

8. Don’t force it. Ask God to pick your friends. The Creator of the universe is completely capable of pairing you with the right person. Use discernment, wait for His timing, pray, and He will provide a friend for you. Then, let Him confirm it once it happens. Forcing friendships never works. They either end up difficult, empty, or both.

9. Get over yourself. The world doesn’t revolve around us (or the other person). Selflessness is a requirement for any relationship to thrive.

10. Keep God at the center. Pray, discuss, study the Word together. Invite God into your time and friendship. Make Him a priority. He’s the glue that holds friends together for life.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
 A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” ~Ecclesiastes 4:12

 (Let Jesus be strand number one of your three-stranded friendship.  It works!)

10 thoughts on “10 Secrets to Healthy Friendship

  1. sheryl says:

    I just finished reading this with tears running down my face. I spent the day today with two of my best friends from my childhood who have and continue to be there for me. We all live in different states so we only get together about once a year. I have recently went thru a terrible storm in my life and lost some friendships, so I needed today so much!! Then I come home and read this post and it touched my heart so much. Its so true and thank you Rivera for sharing it.

    1. Rivera Douthit says:

      Sheryl,
      I’m so honored God used this post to speak gently to your spirit. Thank you for letting me know. So glad you had the gift of spending the day with close friends. So special! I pray God replaces all of your lost relationships with the ones HE wants for you! Blessings!!

  2. Courageous Jane says:

    Well, you did it again. 🙂 #8 is my number one issue right now. Loneliness is a motivating factor in trying to make friendships happen with people you’re not meant to be paired with. I would add that some friendships can change with time and life circumstances. Since I already raised two kids to adulthood, I recognize the stage I’m now in again, which is when everyone with kids of a similar age are all so busy with family life (appropriate), that any leftover free time generally goes to “me time.” There is just not enough time for friends as well. And friendships require time. But I am seriously craving friends. I want someone who actually wants to know me, what makes me tick, and who I am inside, as much as I want to know them. But most of my friendships lately are of the dine-and-dash type. I don’t know how to “fix” this other than to keep taking it to God in prayer and trusting Him to pair me up with the one He has planned for me. Thanks for making me face this topic thoughtfully. Well written! ❤

    1. Rivera Douthit says:

      I hear you and understand your dilemma. Life is filled with changing seasons. I will be praying with you that God places just the right person in your life…sooner rather than later. We all need a girlfriend who “gets” us:) Thank you for sharing your heart my friend! Blessings all over you as you pursue Him and His friend choice for you! This is NOT too hard for God! Xoxo

  3. Betty Nelson says:

    Thank you Rivera. I’ve been struggling with a certain friend of mine for sometime, and I believe your suggestions will help me work through this, and find Gods purpose in this relationship. Love you!

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