Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down
his life for his friends. ~John 15:13
The first thing I've learned is that in order to be a good friend you need to be available. Trust me I know what you are thinking, "I don't have time to be there every time my friend needs me". I get it. I have a family and I am not able to just drop everything in an instant. Being available is more than just physically being there. Distance, for instance, would prohibit even the greatest of friends from being available physically. We live in a time where technology makes it easier than ever to be available. With things like texting, FaceTime & Skype, and email it is so manageable for us to be there for our friends even when distance and time prevent us from being able to hold a hand or give a hug. Being available just means you are willing to set some time aside from your busy schedule to make a phone call, send a quick text, write an email or Skype. This is especially important when you know your friend is going through a difficult or challenging time. I can't tell you how encouraging it is when I am having a hard day and I suddenly get a text from a friend letting me know they are praying for me. Or a friend I haven't heard from in awhile will send a card or email letting me know they've been thinking of me. Another thing I've learned is you need to learn what your friend's need. Have you ever heard of the book, "The Five Love Languages"? In it the author is speaking to married couples but I think it translates into all types of relationships. The 5 love languages are:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Physical TouchKnowing the ways in which the people you are in relationships with feel loved will help you be a better friend (and wife, sister, mother, etc.). For me my love language is Acts of Service with Quality Time a close second. I feel most loved when people give me their time (which is valuable) and help me with a task. I have friends who are amazing at making me feel loved. I have one friend who is always reminding me she will come over and help if I have a project to work on. Today in fact she was here helping me core, peel, and slice A LOT of apples that were given to me. It meant so much to me that she was willing to take time out of her day to spend it here with me chatting and working on something I desperately needed to get done yet could not have by myself. When my sister was recently here visiting for the week she made me feel loved by cleaning...every time I looked she was cleaning something that I
them in a way that lets them know I care and makes them feel loved.
I've learned that being a good friend requires me to be accepting of others for who they are and not expecting them to change to suit my preferences. Do all of my friends and I think alike or act alike? No. How boring would that be! I had one friend say recently, "I thank God for each of you ladies, and the way our different personalities complement each other". Differences are good and we should be willing to accept our friends and love them for who they are. I'm thankful for my friends who are patient and gracious with my imperfect self and keep me around despite my undesirable qualities that I know at times drive them crazy!
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I have learned that my children are watching me and the kind of friend I am to others will have an impact on them. I am their first example of what a friend is. Not because I am trying to be their friend, (that's a post for a different day), but because they see how I treat my friends, how I speak to them or about them and whether or not I make time for them. I am the first person who teaches them what a friend is and what it means to be a friend. I want my kids to make wise choices when it comes to choosing friends and I want my example to be one that they can emulate. I have found the best training they can get in learning to be a good friend is with their brothers and sisters. These are their first friends and learning to be a good friend to each other will give them just the practice they need to be a good friend to others.