Who’s heard this or something like it before? If you want to have friends, you have to be a friend.
Growing up, I heard it quite a lot. The problem most of us have is that we were never really taught what that means.
Does it mean dropping everything the moment someone calls to run to their side? Does it mean always giving up what you want to do in favor of what they want to do? Does it mean eating where they want? Only going to movies they want to see? Spending time together on their schedule?
Goodness no. That’s the definition of a doormat or a slave or some fancy psychological issue.
So what is a good friend?
Being a good friend means following the Golden Rule that so many of us learned as children. In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. Matthew 7:12
It’s really quite simple.
- Do you want to be listened to? Then be a good listener.
- Do you want someone to go to your favorite restaurant with you? Then go to someone’s favorite restaurant with them.
- Do you want someone to acknowledge your birthday with a sweet treat? Then take the time to make or buy some sweet treats for someone else.
But what if the other person doesn’t reciprocate?
Some of you are already rattling off excuses, examples of when you tried this and it didn’t work. The person was either selfish or never returned the favor or never even said thank you!
I know. I’ve been there too. But that doesn’t release us from the command to treat others the way we want to be treated.
The kind of thinking that puts others in the forefront of your mind is hard if you aren’t used to it, but it gets easier with practice. The Holy Spirit loves to jump in and help me do this (one of the benefits of asking God for wisdom!).
For example, recently, I was going to an out-of-state conference with a couple of friends. A third friend who lived nearby drove up from her house to meet us at our hotel to have dinner, but a fourth friend from yet another state couldn’t make it.
This fourth friend is very dear to me, and because we live on opposite sides of the country, we rarely see each other. She is also close to two of the other ladies who were at the dinner, so I knew her heart would be missing all of us as we celebrated time together.
God whispered to me one morning a couple weeks before we left, reminding me how I’d felt when other friends had gone off on a retreat together without me. I was thankful they were getting a refreshing time away, but I still felt left out. Left behind.
That bittersweet memory was all it took for me to jump online and find a small gift I could send through the mail to let her know how important she was to me and how much I would miss her presence at the conference.
That one small reminder cost me about ten minutes and just a few dollars, but the dividends I received back when she called me a week later were priceless.
Want to know more about cultivating great relationships that you cherish a lifetime?
Watch for my newest book in the Beyond Warrior’s Bride series releasing next week! Other Military Spouses: A Military Spouse’s Guide to Finding Great Friends.