Why some friendships didn’t go deeper, even though I tried and lessons learned from eighty years of doing life alongside others. A special tag team post by an aunt-niece duo.
Note from Christi:
A few weeks ago, I shared some raw thoughts on friendship (“privately”) with my email list. That email received a response far greater than most things I send out across the bits and bytes. I think it touched a nerve. One of those who responded was my octogenerian aunt. I said her thoughts sounded like a blog post and she agreed to let me use them. So we are tag-teaming today.
Why some friendships didn’t go deeper, even though I tried
If I asked you what it takes to form a deep friendship, what would you answer? You might just raise your eyebrow and say, “It’s complicated.”
I would agree. But lately, I’ve been thinking about the deep friendships in my life and what they have in common. It’s this: the choice to be vulnerable.
In contrast, I’ve been thinking about some women along the way who were beautiful godly examples of living a life completely to God’s glory. But they never became deep friends, even though we tried.
All of them have something in common. Whenever a “less than” moment arose in either of our lives, their response was — in general — to proclaim that God was in control; there really wasn’t a need to talk about it in depth or admit to a struggle.
So they received my admiration, but there wasn’t a basis for going deeper.
C.S. Lewis said:
“Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another,
“What! You too? I thought that no one but myself …”
I also believe this is when true encouragement is birthed.
Furthermore, when we admit to faith-failures, then God is the only one who ultimately gets the glory for faith-successes. But the choice to be vulnerable and admit to the struggle is not easy, especially for a believer who wants to live a life worthy of their calling.
I think this is one of the enemy’s favorite tactics. If he can convince us we should only show our best selves and give the best answers, then he can keep isolated the ones who struggle. (You know — the small group that makes up 99.99% of Christians.)
What does it take to form deep friendships?
(by Aunt Glenda, more on this guest writer and lady of deep wisdom below)
When this question was posed to me, I have to admit that I had never given it much thought. As was stated to me it is complicated and I would expect that there are many answers that would work and that every situation is probably unique.
Someone once said that if you have 3 friends in your inner circle that you consider true friends or having a “deep friendship” with them, you are incredibly blessed. Perhaps you have 10 or more friends that come close to that description but are just not quite there yet.
I have six who fit my description of “deep friends.” I believe it takes time and nourishment to get to the point where you can say this is indeed a “deep friendship.”
8 Foundations of Deep Friendship learned from 80 years of life
This must be invested so that you can truly get to know each other.
Joys and sorrows need to be shared as you learn about that person’s trials and celebrations and they learn about yours.
Quality time has to be invested to cement things you have in common.
… as well as …
Giving each other the space to have their own opinions and if they differ a little from you, respect their opinion and love them anyway. You can agree to disagree and it doesn’t hurt your relationship.
This is important because we need people to love us no matter what our warts. Keep very few secrets from each other.
You can call no matter the time of day or night. If you need to talk to them or them to you, they will drop everything to be with you.
There has to be complete trust because these are the people that you have literally put your life and heart in their hands.
You are entirely comfortable being with them with or without makeup, hair combed, p.j.’s or totally dressed.
(that’s Christi’s word)
I have found that you do not have to live close together geographically in order to maintain a deep friendship. I have friends that I may not see for periods of time, but when we do get together, there is no interruption of sharing, laughing and basically carrying on as though no time has passed at all.
I’m assuming some men form deep friendships with other men, but in my observation women are much better at this and feel the need more than the men I know. This depth of friendship with other women is a huge blessing from God. I think He knew we needed sounding boards — people who will listen without judging and maybe not even offer advice. Being still and just sitting quietly with a friend can be one of the most healing events and at times that is all that is needed.
Deep friendships are a gift from God and I believe the people who have these relationships are indeed truly blessed.
I feel that most of you have read the following story, but I am repeating it here because the point is so relevant to my thoughts on deep friendships: I have no idea who originally wrote this but it is timeless so if you have read it, indulge me, if you haven’t – enjoy!
“A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day, drinking iced tea and visiting with her mother. As they talked about life, marriage, and the responsibilities of life and obligations of adulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance upon her daughter.
Don’t forget your sisters, she advised, swirling the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass. They’ll be more important as you get older. No matter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you may have, you are still going to need sisters. Remember to go places with them now and then do things with them. Remember that sisters mean ALL the women…your girlfriends, your daughters and all your other women relatives too. You’ll need other women. Women always do.
What a funny piece of advice, the young woman thought. Haven’t I just gotten married? Haven’t I just joined the couple world? I’m now a married woman for goodness sake! A grown up! Surely my husband and the family we may start will be all I need to make my life worthwhile.
But she listened to her mother. She kept contact with her sisters and made more women friends each year. As the years tumbled by, one after another, she gradually came to understand that her mother really knew what she was talking about. As time and nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman, sisters are the mainstays of her life.
After more than 70 years of living in this world, here is what I’ve learned:
THIS SAYS IT ALL:
- Time passes.
- Life happens
- Distance separates
- Children grow up
- Jobs come and go
- Love waxes and wanes
- Men don’t do what they’re supposed to do. (I might add women also GT)
- Hearts break
- Parents die.
- Colleagues forget favors
- Careers end.
Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach. When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley’s rim, cheering you on. Praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley’s end. Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you … Or come in and carry you out.
Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, nieces, cousins and extended family; all bless our life! The world wouldn’t be the same without women and neither would I. When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrow that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other.”
Why some friendships don't go deep and 8 traits of those that do (Lessons from 80 years of life!)Click To Tweet
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About the Guest Writer
Glenda Thompson is a wife of 60 years, mom of two children, grandmother of two grandchildren and Gigi to three great grandchildren. Her passions are God, family, friends and helping in church activities and projects. The most recent was participating in a class with six young mothers and six “mentors” from her church’s older population. Glenda’s part was to teach the lesson on “How to Love Your Children.”
Spending time with immediate and extended family is her favorite pastime. Occasional blogs can be found at glenda-at.blogspot.com . A common theme running through her blogs are: Having fun and learning new things as we grow older.
For more insight on “Aunt Glenda,” see this post based on thoughts she shared with me about her deepest trial:
How to find Dry Ground when you’re Drowning in a Sea of Questions
See all guest posts from this summer series:
Words with Friends
Inspiration to persevere in your God-given calling and tips on how to minister to friends who are down.
Encouraging the encourager through hope and help.
I love this!
“I think this is one of the enemy’s favorite tactics. If he can convince us we should only show our best selves and give the best answers, then he can keep isolated the ones who struggle. (You know — the small group that makes up 99.99% of Christians.)”
Love this post! I’m a 70-year-old “only child.” When I was 11 years old, God gave me a best friend who became a sister to me. Marilyn and I were roommates in college. Our first children, both daughters, were born 27 days apart and are now each other’s best friends. After my parents died, Marilyn’s family became my family. In 2008, Marilyn had a surgery that didn’t go well, and about 10 weeks later, she died. After almost 10 years without her, I’m finally beginning to heal. Marilyn’s younger sister has taken her place as the friend I can call at any hour of the day or night. The only regret I have (and it’s why I’m writing this) is that Marilyn and I didn’t open our circle a little wider and let others in. I think we thought we had because we did have other mutual friends but just not “THAT close.” I didn’t learn how to do that well until about 7 years after she was gone. She and I thought we would be roommates someday again–at the nursing home. We planned for losing our husbands someday but not each other. We often said that some people live a lifetime and never experience the kind of friendship that we enjoyed. And that’s true, but please try. If you’re “that good” at being a good friend, then find some more people who need and want your friendship. Some may not “take,” but a few will, and when you suffer a deep and unexpected loss, they’ll be there for you!
Rosemary, this is beautiful advice! Thank you for sharing your story and your heart for others.
When I was a young bride, it was your adult friendships that were my model for what I hoped I would find as I got older. “Could she by my Michelle?” was a question I often asked myself as I met new friends. Last week four women journeyed to Memphis to stand alongside our sister…our friend…my “Michelle”…as she said goodbye to her father who died very unexpectedly. Not going was never even a consideration. In joy, in sorrow, in celebration, in whatever life throws…if it throws at one of us, it throws at all 5 of us. Sisters.
So true! And I love that you have a “Michelle.”
Beautiful reminder of the rewards of friendships!
Yes! She did a great job. Thanks for being here.
Sweet! And this lady lives it. Can’t say I’ve enjoyed being one of her sister friends, but having been married to her only by-birth sister has been such a blessing to one who had only brothers. Glenda is the real deal, and we are constantly amazed at her selfless giving and service to others. Maybe that is what her “sisters” see also and admire so much in addition to their sweet relationships, some of which have lasted a lifetime. Only eternity can measure the worth of her life well-lived. -Ray