In a day and age when we are sold on the lie that ‘bigger is better’ and ‘more is what matters’, we can easily believe that being well-known is the same as being well-loved. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Crowds may applaud one’s charisma, but very rarely are they interested in the development of one’s character. It doesn’t matter how many people know our name, if there aren’t a few faithful souls who truly know what’s going on in our lives. And when life throws us a tragic curveball, let’s be real, we don’t find comfort in how many people liked our latest post or showed up to our last event; we find comfort in the company of a good friend.
Of course, no friendship is perfect, because, well, none of us are perfect; but we can pursue healthy friendships, in which we bring out the best in others and they bring out the best in us. Figuring out how to have flourishing friendships isn’t always the easiest, and for a lot of my twenties, I was sifting through the highs and lows of relationships to figure out the difference between toxic friendships and healthy ones. For those of you trying to sort out the difference or simply looking for ways to deepen the great friendships you already have, here are a few thoughts on what it looks like to add more health and less drama to your squad:
1. Healthy friendships inspire each other’s faith. Healthy friendships consist of friends who love Jesus. They inspire each other to trust Jesus and to live by His Word daily. They aren’t perfect Christians, because none of us are, but they have a deep desire to know Jesus and follow Him, and they are making that their top priority. These are the kinds of friendships that can weather storms together, and grow and mature together because Christ is at the center of the friendship.
2. Healthy friendships speak truth in love. These friendships know how to keep it real. They don’t avoid difficult conversations, and they don’t try to put on masks. They are honest and authentic. And they keep it real while also keeping it kind. They aren’t easily offended by truth spoken in love, and because of that they sharpen one another and spur one another on to do extraordinary things.
3. Healthy friendships are fun! These friendships understand that life is serious enough to not take ourselves too seriously. They know just the right moment to text you a Beyoncé meme or respond to a question about their day with an inside joke or a quote from This Is Us. These are the friendships that after you’ve spent time with them you feel better about life. These friendships know how to laugh and refresh and make the most of opportunities.
4. Healthy friendships forgive quickly. Great friends are uncomplicated in the best way. If they are bothered by something, they simply bring it up, and then they forgive. They move on quickly and don’t keep track of mistakes to bring it up again in the future. And side note: If a friend continues to hurt you repeatedly even after you address areas of hurt, then that’s probably an indicator that they aren’t meant to be a close friend. Forgive them and set new boundaries in the relationship, but continue to invest in friendships with people can own their mistakes, forgive and mature through conflict. Determine by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit to be that kind of friend to others.
5. Healthy friendships have got each other’s backs. They can be trusted with what ought to be kept confidential. When you need them, they are there. They are there for the airport runs and the breakups and the moving days and the moral support and the every now and again pep talk. Even if they live on the other side of the world, they Facetime or drop a quick message to let you know they care.
6. Healthy friendships cheer each other on. They don’t dish out passive aggressive comments or underhanded compliments when the other succeeds. They believe in each other and they sincerely celebrate each other’s achievements and victories. They aren’t rivals; they are comrades, and they are always cheering each other on!
I am so grateful for my friends. They have taught me so much about love and connection. They have encouraged me, supported me, and pushed new to soar to new heights. We all need people like that in our corner, and we all need to be that kind of friend to others. The saying: “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future,” is an often quoted one for a reason. It’s true. I pray you invest in your friendships, and that your life becomes healthier because of them.
Nicole Smithee lives in Manhattan with her husband, Ben. She serves on the Executive Team at Liberty Church and devotes her time to mentoring and coaching young leaders. She is a blogger, author, and traveling speaker. To learn more, visit www.nicolesmithee.com.