As the years go by, some of us are blessed to have been a part of productive and constructive long-term friendships whilc others others choose the opposite. Many of us remember when growing up referring to just about anyone we met once or twice as our friend. Social media sends out friend requests, and many now have so-called social media “families”. While reading an article in Helpguide.org, the authors spoke about how to meet friends as well as the benefits of strong friendships. In my book “Step Into Your Glorious Future” , I discuss my upbringing, travels, experiences and choices that led to vibrant and sustained relationships. I have many acquaintances, but the number of true friendships have lasted well over 20 years and still going strong, which is a blessing. The frequency in which I communicate with my friends differs but the intensity and closeness is as strong as the ones where we speak once or twice a month versus once or twice a year. The 5 components key components I think make the friendships I share special and could do the same for you are connectivity, time, growth, celebrations and laughter.
Take the time to comfort & encourage each other. Life is filled with physical, emotional, financial and many more challenges. Someone you’re in contact with may be struggling in their relationship with their kids, spouse, family co-workers, etc. and may need a word of encouragement every now and then. Take the time to be that person for someone else. This is challenging when the only interaction you’ve had in years is via the internet and in view of millions. When facing life-altering physical challenges, hearing “sorry to hear that” rarely brings a sense of comfort one needs. By connecting on a more personal level, praying for and with each other brings the comfort and encouragement that often can only come from our Lord Jesus Christ.
Connect outside of social media. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, linked in or any other social media platform, connecting with folks you knew “back in the day” has been easier with the use of the internet. Some connect with blood relatives while others find themselves providing daily if not hourly updates as to what they are doing, when they are having surgery and where they are going. Unfortunately a lot of this is happening during hours where work is supposed to be done. Long lost friends typically reconnect and spend a week or two catching up on the previous 10-20 years. The friendship in many cases goes back to what it was for a variety of reasons including marriage, maturity level, and life goals. Those that survive this screening criteria now become a part of your “facebook family” (Instagram, Twitter, etc.) . As exciting as social media can be and is to some, another approach is to consider seeking more depth from the friendships you choose to cultivate instead of continuously yearning for meaning and acceptance through social media relationships. Take the time to make a personal call, send a personal note or a personal visit to connect deeper starting today.
Grow Together. When most of us graduate from high school we are faced with career choices that will likely take us away from friends and sometimes even family. As we develop new friendships the challenge we face is what trajectory our lives will take based on the friendships we develop. Going to the Friday night football game or hanging out at the mall for most of us will a thing of the past. As new friendships bloom, some of you will find such topics as academic excellence, career planning, spiritual growth and service opportunities at the core of your discussions. Others however, may still find themselves talking about why they were late for work, who said what about them on social media, looking for 2nd job or how much fun they had at the club last night. There is nothing wrong with either scenario, it’s just a matter of which direction you choose to grow in. Time is something you don’t get back, so choose to surround yourself with friends seeking growth in their spiritual walk, financial literacy, career and academic pursuits, adventurous travel experiences, strong family relationships, and more.
Laugh Together. Our country is going through trying times right now. Despite the corruption, deception and lack of leadership from many of those leading our country, I choose not to allow them to steal my joy. As I have personal conversations with friends every week, we always find things to laugh about and yes, it feels good. This doesn’t mean we ignore what’s going on and don’t get engaged in working towards change in our country. We often find ourselves laughing about each other instead of about someone else’s misfortune. Take the time today to share a laugh with a friend.
Congratulate Each Other. Take the time to congratulate a friend on their anniversary, birthday, graduation of a family member, promotion, etc. Giving a thumbs up when the person themselves or another friend mentions it but how special would that be to remember your friend’s birthday and connect with them outside of social media? You decide. I’ve been blessed to have life-long friends and close family members who see value in congratulating and supporting each other. The joy you will feel when congratulating someone who was student of the month, was on the dean’s list, scored 2 points in a basketball game, participated in a play at church, received a promotion, celebrated their 25 year anniversary and more will be unmatched.
When you show yourself to be a good friend, your friends will see the value you bring to the shared relationship.Don’t worry about whether or not they are reciprocating initially, just do it because you value this person’s friendship and look forward to doing life with them.Let’s face it, there will always be some that are busy being busy.Years from now, they will again “look you up” on social media and tell you all about “the struggle”. Others will look to include you in drama that you have long left behind. These are the relationships that often lead to street fights, criminal activity, children out of wedlock, non-productive careers and more. The choice to build strong friendships is one that can have a profound generational impact not only on your life but on life of those around you.You may never see the impact you’re having in someone’s life so don't stop doing good (Gal 6:9) . Continue striving to improve the depth of your friendships versus the number of "friends" you think you have.
For more on this and other life lessons visit markogittens.com , the generational life lessons blog or order the book at amazon.com