A few weeks back we were riding home from church and Carly had her bestie with her. They were laughing and talking in the backseat and then I heard Carly critique one of her friends qualities. My mouth dropped but when I began to address it her friend said “it’s okay, it’s really true.” As Carly and I talked about this later and I mentioned how it was evidently just all out honesty between the two of them she said “Mom, that’s how we know we can trust each other”. What? She is NINE folks..NINE. If you think you can’t learn valuable lessons from your children think again.
So this obviously got me thinking about my own friendships and the lessons I’ve learned over the years. Is it always the right choice to be totally honest? I have definitely been guilty of speaking my mind and sharing my honest thoughts without regard for how it might make a friend feel. Sometimes it may just be a result of my emotions at the time and I let my tongue loose only to realize those words may sting a little and can’t be recalled. Thankfully as I age I have become a little more responsible with my words but I still need some guidance here and there. Here are a few things I try to keep in mind.
- Did they ask? Whatever the situation, from the outfit they are wearing to the new weight loss kick they are on to the way they raise their children, did they ask you for guidance or for your opinion? In the spirit of being a good friend, I believe my role is to keep my mouth shut if I was not specifically asked. Do I always stay in my role….nope! I am the queen of sharing unsolicited advice even at the grocery store to total strangers.
- Is what I’m saying shared with love? Sometimes you may be asked for your opinion or there may be times when you truly feel your friend is in a dangerous spot and it’s time to help. Regardless, before you choose your words think hard about what you will be sharing. Is it out of love? Or could it be something else; envy, political motives, your own desire to pass on your bad day to someone else (for real y’all this DOES happen). If your heart is in the right place your friend is going to receive those words so much easier because it will be obvious you truly care.
- Be honest! Be sure to be honest with your words. The last thing your friend needs you to do is sugar coat everything with some politically correct answer. Your friend deserves to hear the truth about how you feel even if your opinion is not the same as hers. Serving up all the pretty all the time will lead to an even bigger disappointment down the road when your friend finds out you feel differently, much less totally opposite, of what you shared. This is a hard one for me as well. When you are in the midst of a solid friendship where you know the two of you hold each other accountable and the words you need to say are definitely not the ones your friend wants to hear, find courage and spit them out….but with love (like a piece of chocolate when you remember you gave that up for lent).
- Does your friend really need words? Sometimes what your friend really needs is just another person to listen. I suck at this y’all. I love to hear myself talk I’m pretty sure and I’m a problem solver so sitting and listening and keeping my mouth shut is so very hard. Being there for a friend sometimes means you have to know when to not say anything at all and just be there. Be there to provide a safe place for them to vent, to give them an encouraging hug or watch their kids so they can get it together. If you find yourself at bullet #2 and are asked for your opinion….but know you cannot share in love then keeping your mouth shut and just being there for your friend is the way to go.
- Keep it shut once you leave! This is probably the biggest way to lose the trust of a friend. If you are asked for your guidance, once you leave your friend close that door and lock those lips. No one else needs to know about that conversation. We are women and this is hard and even if we think we are sharing a private conversation “out of concern or love” for our friend we are taking a risk of losing trust in that friendship.
Being kind with my words is not always easy and there have been plenty of times I have had to own it and apologize. There have been just as many times when I did not own it, did not have the courage to apologize and I lost a friend. Some I know where meant to fade from my life, but some I truly miss and know that it is my loss.
True friendship is a place where you can be completely yourself and where you can be completely accepting of another who may not be exactly life you! You know each other’s true heart which allows you to extend some grace on those days when you happen to be in their line of fire. Or allows your friend to see the love you have for your spouse and children even on those days when you call and vent. This is a safe place because you know you can trust each other.
So very thankful today for the friends I do have and even for those I have lost because they have taught me some valuable lessons and made me realize just how precious these relationships can be.
For the record, if I have something stuck in my teeth or toilet paper stuck to my shoe, I expect total honesty with or without the added love!
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