Be Her First

{I’ll explain the “gray-shirt guy” at the end.}

I woke this morning with a crazy desire to reread a funny “I see you…” card a friend had slipped me last night at a Palm Beach Women’s Network event. As I pulled it out while sipping my coffee, I giggled and began thinking of the other women at my table I wanted to send a quick text to thank them for their vulnerability last night.

That’s when it hit me.

I loved this feeling deep in my soul that I don’t often wake with, because I’m a mom filled with mom obligations, which I love, but I rarely make time to connect with other women. I feel busy from driving kiddos to volleyball/dance/robotics every night of the week. Don’t get me wrong. Being a parent is my favorite job, but last night I realized that I don’t make enough time for me. Even getting in my minivan to drive to this amazing event, I imagined vegging on the couch instead of chatting away with like-minded friends. Thankfully, I offered to volunteer for the night and ended up greeting guests and hosting a table.

Our speaker was none other than the amazing Amy Oliver. For those of you who aren’t from this area, her and her husband are two of the most sought-after Christian counselors in Palm Beach County. As Amy shared thought-provoking tips on how to foster connectedness in our relationships, I jotted down notes that spoke to me, and even winced at some of the characteristics of a destructive friendship that hit a little too close to home.

She started with these few tips:

  • Social media breeds isolation and disconnection
  • We view “likes” as votes (this is why when our teens post on Instagram and they don’t get enough likes, they take their posts down)
  • We were created for community with God and one another (this is probably why I woke refreshed after a night out with friends, verses semi-depleted on those nights I’m only scrolling Facebook or Instagram)
  • Belonging is the opposite of fitting in (belonging means I’m included, wanted, and I’ve found a real tribe of transparent friends who like me for me–quirkiness and all)

~~~

Then she shared the characteristics of a connected relationship:

  1. Safety: We need safety in friendship in order for them to thrive, meaning if a close friend opens up and confides intimate details of her life, it has to stay with you. Be her safe place. The second you share her temporary struggle with someone else—even for the sake of prayer—you’ve lost her trust. If a friend gossips about other people, they are most likely gossiping about you.
  2. Content: Refuse to compete with one another. Cherish your differences, and avoid trying to change who they are.
  3. Tender: Be gentle with one another’s hearts. We should be able to share without harsh judgement or correction. Be sensitive with their hurts.
  4. Accountability: A true friend is not a “yes man”, meaning, they are close enough to you where they can lovingly call you out because it’s for your own good. A true friend is able to say hard things to bring out the best in you.
  5. Availability: They are there when you need them most.

~~~

And here the characteristics of a destructive friendship:

  1. Controlling: It has to be their way or no way.
  2. Needy/Insecure: You are needed for everything. They can’t make a decision or really function without your input, support or approval. (Ouch. I’ve been this person when I’ve walked through sicknesses in my life. Forgive me if I’ve ever drained you!)
  3. Carbon Copy: They copy everything you do…from clothing to outings.
  4. Unsafe: They refuse to hold what you share confidential. They talk about you and others more than they talk about themselves.
  5. Self-absorbed: What is going on in their life is more important than what’s going on in yours (Eek. I’ve been this person at times, too.)
  6. Critical/Belittling: They criticize, belittle, and put down the things you do.

~~~

I needed these reminders. And honestly, I was a little shocked by the first point that social media breeds isolation and disconnection. Ack. This means I need to step out of my comfort zone and intentionally reach out to others.

But you guys, one of the best things she shared was that if you’re in a season where you feel like you have not found that close friend you can confide in, try to become her. Be the woman who reaches out and is safe and listens and candidly offers input. Pray for wisdom. Then wait for those opportunities to be her first.

What about you? How would you respond to these questions?

  1. Was there a time when a friend made a difference in your life?
  2. Do you feel social media breeds isolation?

 

PS Funny story from the “I see you” card above. You know you’ve found a new sweet friend when they effortlessly save you from a kind, older gentleman who wants to chat away well past the three-minute “hello, how are you” conversation. This gray-haired guy popped by the theatre to purchase tickets for an upcoming event while I was greeting at the front door. I was raised Southern Baptist sweet, so I, of course, kindly chatted with him while he waited. But then after he got his tickets, he kept talking. And I nodded away until he asked what part of the county I lived. Second grade stranger danger bells went off in my head, and I was able to sneak away to the check-in table and ask a new-ish friend if she’d pretend to talk with me. She played along beautifully, smiling and chatting randomly for a few minutes. Then I asked if the gray-shirt guy was still by the front door. She discreetly nodded. I then asked if she could escort me back into the event. That’s when I ditched my door greeting duty, and chuckled away with her once we were inside. Whew. I’m sure this guy was just buying tickets for a show and possibly bored, but after three minutes of generic conversation, my “this-is-getting-uncomfortable” meter went off. Thank you, sweet Kathryn, for saving me! I hope you got a good laugh out of this. Let’s just say I think I’m sure I’ve been fired as a greeter for any future events. Five-foot, vertically challenged blondes can be skittish this way. ; )

  1. I have enjoyed your blog for many years now, but this is the first time I’ve commented. This post is thought-provoking; I want to “be her first”! 🙂

  2. I’m so very thankful you shared your input! I needed all of these reminders, too. I think ever woman does. And thank you also for taking the time to read this. I went back and forth on whether or not to share what I learned, but then realized that if Amy’s points blessed me, maybe they will bless someone else, too. Again, thank you for taking a minute to comment. Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever reads what is typed. ; )

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