I’m out to lunch with a group of friends and we’re eating Mexican food, one of my favorites. Extra cilantro on my carne asada tacos, please. Gallons of salsa on my tortilla chips, and three street tacos later (who am I kidding – four), my stomach is satisfied and I join the conversation to catch up my friends on my latest life story.
Me: “Omg, I was starving. So, lately I’ve been…”
Friend interrupts: “Hold up. You got cilantro in your teeth.”
These are the friends we all want. Am I right?
Friends are the people who will interrupt your life update to let you know you that the lunch you just scarfed down is all up in your teeth. Otherwise, I look in the mirror an hour later, find said cilantro in my teeth and wonder if these people I just lunched with are truly my friends. SMH.
First criteria of friendship: Tell me if there’s food in my teeth.
A close second: I’m trying to pursue a life like Jesus. Are they doing that too?
A saying my mom always used to tell me growing up, which now I realize was a paraphrase of Proverbs 13:20, was “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” You become very much like the people you spend the most time with. Your friends should be a reflection of good qualities and decisions that you would want for your own life. Life is complicated, and as Christians, we use faith to (try to) make sense of it all. But doing that journey alone isn’t what God intended for us.
I find myself extremely blessed to have friendships that are basically #squadgoals. I have surrounded myself with people who have celebrated me at my best, and lifted my head up at my worst. They’ve also seen me at my my worst and still love me. My friendships are not accidental or by chance. They are a result of pursuing my commitment to Jesus first, engaging in the local church, and doing my best to be a person of integrity.
So, how do we find and engage in life giving Christian friendships?
Get Involved at Church
Straight up. This has proven to be oh so true in my life. Every time I’ve gotten involved as a volunteer or joined or led a small group, I’ve made new edifying friendships with people who are also pursuing Jesus. Shared time and involvement in something bigger than yourself will bond you to new and exciting relationships because the experience is rooted in Christ.
You might say, “Well, I went to church and nobody talked to me.”
Well, did you initiate a conversation with anyone? How is someone going to get to know who you are unless you open your mouth and tell them? Ain’t nobody got time for telepathy. Introvert or extrovert alike, you need to put yourself out there. People aren’t just going to walk up to you and ask to be your friend. You have to be a friend to have a friend.
Don’t have a church? Visit a few local churches and once you find one that feels like a home for your soul, be consistent in your attendance on Sundays and get yourself involved.
Do You Boo Boo
Be yourself, not what you think other people want to see. The friends I absolutely adore are the ones who are most comfortable in their own skin. Friends will want to celebrate your uniqueness, as you should celebrate theirs. Don’t forget Whose you are. You have so much to offer a friendship. God has created you uniquely and masterfully, who wouldn’t want to be your friend? Get out there and show ‘em what you got.
Snitches Get Stitches (Loyalty People)
Be loyal, you guys. Friendship is interchangeable with the word trust. When you invest time listening and sharing the private details of each other’s lives, it’s not cool to hear that those details were not kept confidential. If you find that’s the case confront the offender. If they repent and fix it, you can grow closer. If they keep it up consistently, it’s okay to keep that person at a distance.
“When people show you who they are, believe them.” – Maya Angelou
Yes, have all the followers on social media and all the acquaintances your heart desires, but when a time of adversity comes, your close and true friends will stand with you in your storm until the boat stops rocking. Be loyal to your friends when life gets tough. If your friend is going through something difficult, ask how you can help or what you can do for them and follow through. You can most likely count your true friends on one(ish) hand.
Fact Check, 1, 2… 1, 2
If you’re going to have loyal friendships and disclose personal details about your life and your struggles, don’t sugar coat it. Be honest with your friends. Tell on yourself and be open to receive honest feedback. It’s easy to dish out advice, but it’s even harder to take it.
True friends will have your back, support and validate you. But they should also have the right tell you when you are wrong and out of line. Honesty with a side of grace goes a long way. It stings to hear when you aren’t right, but better to feel a sting now than a shark attack later.
Be Their Biggest Fan
You know what’s awesome? When you do something amazing and your friends give you mad props. You know what’s awful? When you do something amazing and the people around you try to downplay your efforts or they don’t even acknowledge it.
When someone’s first response to me doing something cool in my life is sarcasm, I think to myself, “Excuse me sir, are you broken? Clearly you are projecting your insecurity or unhappiness onto me.” But that’s none of my business. *sips cup*
Celebrate your friends in their accomplishments. Be genuinely excited for them and proud of how hard they’ve worked to get where they are. Listen up, I have friends who have way better hair, are better writers, and are smarter than I am. But do you think I shy away from complimenting them because of my insecurities? Absolutely not. Celebrating what my friends are good at helps me to remove the ugly parts of my heart that are slave to comparison and jealousy.
Remember to always be the person who tells their friend, “Hey, there’s cilantro in your teeth.” Because, come on, we all want that person around. And when it comes down to it, be the type of friend that you would be lucky to have and watch God bless your friendships and your life.