Monday

Healthy Friendships

I received many messages from my last girlfriend post. I thought I should follow it up with information on healthy friendships. It seems many of us have been affected by women both negatively and in a positive way. One of my dear friends reminded me today I might not be the leading authority on making healthy friendships. Again, why I like to surround myself with friends who tell me the truth (in love)! So I am providing information from several articles and books.

Friendship is a gift all women need, during every stage of their lives.
Friends who share life's experiences -from the joys to the sorrows - help each other live the abundant life made for them.  Some friendships can often be challenging to navigate.  Friends can bless each other, but they can wound each other, too.
The good news is that you can enjoy strong friendships if you're intentional about being the kind of friend you want others to be for you.  Here's some tips on how you can be a good friend:


Avoid competition.  Your friendships should be places of safe refuge, which they can't be if they're tainted by competitive attitudes between you and your friends.  Competing with each other (about who has the best body or home, who wins the best man or job, etc.) leads to fear that will make it difficult for you all to freely share ideas, successes, or disappointments with each other.  Lurking behind the desire to compete with other women is often a need to feel valuable.  Pray for God to give you the confidence you need to derive your sense of worth from Him alone.  Remind yourself that you're valuable because God made you in His image and deeply loves you.


Avoid gossip.  Resist the temptation to gossip about any other women to your friends, or to gossip about your friends to others.  Ask God to give you the strength to keep personal information private and the courage to speak out against gossip when others are engaging in it.  Do all you can to protect other women's  reputations and build bonds of trust with your friends.

Confront wisely.  When one of your friends is in trouble, try to respond wisely, without resorting to the unhealthy extremes of either doing too much (such as giving unsolicited advice or too much criticism) or too little (refraining from getting involved at all).  Pray about the destructive decisions you observe your friend making, and seek guidance to speak with your friend in just the right way.  Keep in mind that when Jesus spoke with people who were making destructive choices, He simply asked them questions that would  bring truths buried deep in their souls to the forefront of their minds. Consider asking your friend specific questions designed to remind her of what she already knows is true and to motivate her to act on that truth.


Forgive.  You must forgive friends who have hurt or offended you for your relationships with them and to be healthy. Forgiving does not mean that you stay in an unhealthy friendship. It means that you release them to God and allow healing to begin.


Maintain friendships through different stages of life.  Some friends will be with you for a lifetime after you meet; others will be in your life just for a certain period of time.  But remember that you need friends during every stage of life.  When changing circumstances (such as getting married, having a baby, or moving) threaten some of your friendships, pray for the wisdom to know whether you should let some of relationships go or hold onto them.  Renew the friendships you choose to keep so they can adjust to the new circumstances in your life.  Add new friends to your old ones, as well.

Celebrate best friends.  If you have a friend whom you're closer to than all others, keep investing time and  energy into that relationship.  Thank God for her, and celebrate the fact that you have a best friend to enjoy.


Let your friendships serve as mirrors.  Notice how your friendships reflect back new insights about yourself.  As you pay attention to the way a particular friend makes you think and feel - either positive or negative - and consider why you react that way, you'll come to understand more about yourself.   The more time you spend with your friends, the more they can become like mirrors for you, reflecting what's good and bad about your own attitudes and actions and bringing to light what you may never have seen before.




Allow unexpected friendships to change you.  Sometimes you find yourself drawn to people whom you wouldn't have considered as friends before.  When a friendship surprises you by developing unexpectedly, Prayerfully use the relationship to help you learn valuable insights and grow into a better person in the process. Beth Moore, author of Breaking Free,  warns that friendships which have an "instant" intimacy are a red flag. It takes time to develop trust and common bonds. Unexpected development does not mean overnight best friends.

Help create a healthy community of friends.  Group friendships can become marred by such issues as jealousy and oversensitivity.  Do your best to make your circles of friends accepting and authentic.  Listen to each other, encourage each other, and make yourselves available to serve each other.  Give each other grace and support.Diversity is healthy, remember not all friends look, talk or think alike. Here is one of new, favorite quotes...

Deal with space.  Whenever one of your close friendships pulls farther apart, use the space between you and your friend to gain a new perspective on the relationship.This is not time to panic and post hearts on her Facebook page. {like a crazy ex-girlfriend} Pray, journal and take time to see what is going on with the friendship.If you have a friend that goes from close to distant frequently this could a warning sign for her stability.

Explore your expectations.  Figure out what qualities you hope your various friendships will have, and clearly communicate those expectations to your friends.  Do you want them to show up for important events in your life, know the right words to make you feel better when you're going through a tough time, or something else?  Let them know. Direct communication is always best.


Befriend yourself.  You have to learn how to be a good friend to yourself before you can truly become a good friend to others.  Don't ask your friends to do something for you that only you can do for yourself, such as discovering your identity and worth or preventing you from feeling lonely.  Give yourself the gift of solitude on a regular basis to pray and think about your life.  Then you'll have more to give to others.

This blog post was adapted from articles,
  The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship by Sarah Zacharias Davis.
I love to share tools that have helped in my life. Here are a few other books to check out:
Big Girls Don't Whine - Jan Silvious
Actually Jan has a few books to pick up! The link goes to all her books.
Breaking Free Updated - Beth Moore
Girlfriends 2.0 by Cindy W. Morrison

1 Peter 4:80
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."


I'm blessed with a wonderful group of girlfriends. Here at The RHOK there is no housewife drama like a few "reality shows". What about you, how are your friendships? Do you find it difficult or easy to maintain healthy relationships? Here's to getting "healthy" with our friendships in 2012!
xoxo~
Mrs. Montgomery
Cutting Out the Crazy of my Entourage like a...

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