I have a type A personality, and therefore, I’m generally goal oriented. While this worked for me in the professional world it didn’t translate well into my relationships. Namely, because I focused so much on school, and personal goals, I dropped the ball on my friends. While I always showed up for them when they needed me that was really the only time that I was present. Now, if you would have told me that I was a horrible friend because of my “call me incase of emergencies” attitude it would’ve fallen on deaf ears. However, the Holy Spirit started to speak to me about becoming a better person, and this included being better for my friends. In order to do this, I had to be vulnerable.
Confrontation–The first thing that I had to do was go to each person individually and ask them about areas of improvement in my life. Specifically, I had to sit and let them draw attention to my weak areas. If I said that this was an easy thing to do I would be lying because it was tough. In fact, I cried for several days after our conversations. I must admit that because of my strong personality, I am not the easiest person to approach especially with conflict. However, I believe God prepared my heart to hear my friends before they spoke a word. They told me that I had a wall up, that I would show up but not be present, that I don’t like to admit that I need people, and that I do things looking for recognition. They were right! I didn’t spend days crying because they called me out, but because these were things that I thought no one noticed. I was already secretly battling certain issues and their perception of them told me that I couldn’t run any longer.
Recognition–After days of replaying the various conversations in my head I decided to confront myself. Yes, I did have certain issues. Yes, I needed to work on them even if I didn’t want to. And, yes, I needed to do it now. In recognizing that I was being called to grow, I called my friends and apologized for my negligence. I apologized because I didn’t think they needed anything from me for real. In essence I failed to consider their needs and distributed what I thought they needed. In apologizing I felt weak, but it gave me the courage to move forward.
Implementation–Because I operated in a realm of my own thinking I had to figure out a way to establish common ground with my friends. Therefore, I implemented Friday check-in day. While we might text throughout the week, Friday is my day to initiate conversations with them. I send them encouraging words, I pray over them, and I invest in what they have going on in their lives. Ultimately, I use this time to reconnect with the women in my life because that builds stronger relationships. Proverbs 18:24 tells us to show ourselves friendly if we desire friends, and though I desired deep connections through friendship, I wasn’t allowing my friends to access me. Friday check-in has allowed me to move into a move responsible space in my friendships that has caused me to see that the people who surround me have complex lives. I am able to be more lenient with their mistakes, and I’m more open about my life as a result.
Pushing past my emotions–Can I just be honest here? There are times when conversing with my friends are an inconvenience. It’s not that I don’t want to do it, but sometimes when I’m free they aren’t, and vice versa. However, because I’m the one who is dedicated to becoming better, I had to tailor my schedule around them on Friday’s. This means if they can’t talk when I reach out, I have to somehow move things around in my life to be available to them. Perhaps this has been the greatest struggle for me, but no relationship worth having is ever convenient. However, if I say with my mouth that I want friends who care and invest in me, I must serve as a model.
Becoming a better friend has helped me to see the value in the people around me. It has caused me to cherish them more because I know that they are destiny connections. Through this process I’ve learned some key lessons about myself and the people around me, and all I had to do was position myself to hear them.
About the Author: Briana Whiteside is a Phd student and teacher in English at the University of Alabama. While her concentrated research largely focuses on literary texts, Briana realized that her walk with Christ largely informed the way she read literature. Concentrating on spirituality in the narratives of black women, this Chicago native realized the importance of personal spiritual growth, and has committed to positioning herself in a constant state of becoming. Moreover, Briana is devoted to serving as a role model advocating for women in to discover their identity in Christ. Her blog womenofroyaltyblog.wordpress.