Last week I dug deep into a struggle of mine. I talked about playing pretend and how lying at an early age turned into destructive behavior as an adult. I was reading in The Emotionally Healthy Woman(which I highly recommend) about lying to others and how it really is a self-esteem issue. We lie to look better to others or even to ourselves. We can become something we are not proud of and begin to make up lies about who we are.
In the book, they discussed a study on lying. It went on to say that “In the study, people became increasingly engaged in managing how others perceived them, and as a result, said more and said things that were not entirely accurate.” This reminded me of times when I wanted to fit it. I would start talking more and saying things that I did, that were not true. For instance, if a group was talking about going skiing. I would join in saying I know how to ski and I love it. When in reality, I only went once, years and years ago and I’ve not gone skiing again since! I so badly wanted to fit in and add to the conversation. I mean I did go skiing once, it was just a white lie about loving it and really knowing more than a 10 minute lesson could offer. I so longed to look cool, I compromised my integrity.
Dwelling on the idea of self-esteem, I wanted to dig deeper into how to make meaningful relationships by being real. We all want to have friends who can tell us we have something in our teeth or our new hairstyle is not that cute! When coming from a loving friend, it doesn’t hurt so much. We long for honest conversations that will help us grow. We are all learning from each other and just as in a marriage, when there is love and respect, critiques are taken better.
There will always be conflict in a relationship. That is a given. We are all different and imperfect people. It would be a boring world if we all agreed on everything. The key is how we respond during conflict. I need to quote The Emotionally Healthy Woman again, because it is filled with so much goodness. The author writes “Conflict is normal, important, and necessary when close relationships enter into a new cycle of growth and maturity”. I see that in my own relationships. Most of my life I did not have any conflict, because I did not communicate well and was afraid of the truth. There was nothing to have conflict over, because I was not expressing my feelings about anything. Boy did that change after I got married! It took awhile though. My husband and I thought we were an anomaly. We never fought. But, in reality, we never communicated. Once we figured that out, we had more conflict. It was good though. Through the conflict we were better able to understand each others side, instead of assuming what the other person was thinking. We definitely grew in our maturity and in our relationship.
So, what does all this look like in our friendships? And how do we make meaningful relationships?
I believe it all boils down to being real. Like I mentioned last week my church is big on the idea of being real with ourselves, God and others. If we are not real in any of these areas it is going to effect our relationships. Being real deals with a whole lot of grace! A few months ago I put together a list of things that I wanted in a friend. Now, if my friends are reading this, please don’t think you are not good enough. I have some incredible friends who I can always count on. My list was actually pretty silly. I realized I chose friends who did not like the same things as me and my list was all about what I liked and wanted others to like as well! One of my best friends, hate shopping! Probably just as much as my husband hates it. She also does not use Pinterest, Instagram and has no interest in Interior Design. All of my favorite, but she is one of my favorites. I soon saw that God was teaching me to love everyone. They did not have to look like me, act like me, or be interested in the same things for me to have a great friendship. We could still learn from each other and be real with each other.
Meaningful relationships don’t have to all look the same. I have friends I grew up with who are nothing like the friends I’ve made through church. But, we could all get together and have a great time. Learning that we have all been created as unique individuals is also a grace thing. Now, there are certain people that we will just never vibe with. I have met people, who I know for a fact, I can’t be friends with. Like those who hate donuts or if you hate driving too…we either can’t go anywhere or can’t be friends. If you do not know all the words to at least one Mariah Carey song…this friendship may not work! And finally if you can’t laugh and be silly you may need to find another friend tribe.
We were made for connection. Something I have always struggled with as a shy person. I am slowly learning that not every friend needs to like everything I like. It’s going to be ok. Instead of judging, I need to be compassionate and filled with grace. To learn about people and to be interested. I love the saying, “Be interesting and interested”. We all are in this crazy life together and need our friends by our side. Friends who are loyal, honest and loving. Do you have this in your life? A good friend is such a treasure. I am thankful for the few I have and for God giving me a new perspective on what being a good friend looks like. I am still learning. It has been a long and slow process, but thankful none the less. If you struggle with making meaningful relationships, I would suggest being the friend you want. Work on yourself and I am pretty sure the friends will come.