We’re back to dig a little deeper about a subject that is relatively touchy for me. I have found over the years that I feel quite strongly about what friendship is and ought to look like.
I’m that person that is very intentional about which words I use when referring to someone. “Oh, that’s my homeboy Jake.” (I do not have a homeboy named Jake. I’m just saying.) When I say homeboy, I am referring to someone who I get along with, we can have the occasional deep conversation, but we’re not exactly friends.
There are levels to this.
If I had to draw a diagram of some sort, it would look a little something like this:
From the outer circle to the inner circle, each one represents a function of relationship.
Acquaintance: someone I just met
Associate: someone I know within a particular context (classmate, coworker, etc)
Homie/Homeboy: someone with whom I’ve had more regular contact, deeper conversations, and get along with very well
Friend: someone I trust; and while we’re close, mutually, we’re not in each other’s innermost circle; accountability and support
Best friends: God has mutually equipped us to walk together through life; higher accountability, greater intimacy, have been ‘vetted’ etc.
The levels don’t indicate who’s better. The levels indicate the different functions and purposes of those relationships. What these levels comprise is a support system. For clarification, this does not mean I don’t have intimate moments with acquaintances and associates. I believe transparent moments like that are necessary and important to personal growth.
If you didn’t notice, there wasn’t a circle for me. Friends aren’t there for their worlds to revolve around me. This is something I’ve struggled with from time to time. I’ve learned that it’s not simply about who they can be to you or how they can help you.
Yes. It’s important to know who your friends are and how they function. However, an important question to ask ourselves is, “What kind of friend am I to them? How have I been a support to them?”
For me, it’s often easier to assume I’m not in the wrong. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I ‘classify’ my friends for lack of a better word. I have not spent nearly as much thinking about how I can be better as a friend. “A man of many companions may come to ruin; but there’s a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24)
It’s so easy to read that and begin to think of all the people who don’t fit that description. Today I’m asking myself, “am I a friend who sticks closer than a brother?” Honestly, I do think I’m a good friend; at least I have the potential to be. However, potential means nothing without progress.
Here are some ways I have identified I could be a better friend:
- Call when I have nothing to talk about. For us ladies, this can be so difficult. We typically call or text each other to talk about a specific topic. We may call to update each other about our life events.
- Give them the benefit of the doubt when they don’t do what you’d like for them to do. This is a really big one for me. I’ve improved, but often my mind begins to wander and I find myself thinking thoughts that are not life-giving.
- Keep shorter accounts. Don’t just wait for them to contact you or a special occasion. Contact them more frequently.
- Ask the questions you’re uncomfortable asking. Some questions include, “How can I be a better friend?” “When and how have I acted out of character as of late?”
- Be honest when things hurt me. Sometimes we think that just because we’re in a friendship that God put together that hurt or the appearance of betrayal isn’t possible. It very well is. How we deal with the hurt afterwards is what matters. One of the best ways to deal with hurt in that particular area is to be honest and confront those feelings within yourself.
I’m sure there are other ways in which I could improve as a friend. However, we’d be here for a very long time. You may have some reasons you think you could improve as a friend. Share those ideas with a trusted friend and encourage them to hold you accountable.
Remember, friendship is so important. Who you decide to be intimate friends with will dictate your life. So choose wisely. In all of your choosing, don’t forget to be a great choice as well.