This is the third in a series of five articles on going From Survive to Thrive in our lives. The first article had some introductory sections in it. If you haven’t read those yet and would like to – click here – the page will open in a new window so you won’t lose this page.
We’re covering five areas in our lives that need to go from survive to thrive…
This article will cover friendship. Click the links above for the other articles.
Our Friendships Need to Thrive
A thriving family is important. A thriving marriage is crucial. Thriving in work and faith are both important as well. They are all important areas for us to make the move from survive to thrive, but this friendship one can help make or break just about any one of those other areas.
Our friendships influence all areas of our life. My friends influence how I deal with my family of chance as well as my family of choice. In fact my friends really are more a part of my family of choice. My friends influence who I dated all the way up to influencing my perspective on my marital relationship even now. My friends influence decisions I make about work, short-term and long-term. My friends influence my beliefs, my faith.
My friends can either keep me in survival mode or help me thrive in all areas of my life. They play such a crucial role in my life that I want to ensure I am thriving, especially in my relations with them.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis
Friendships should help take us from survive to thrive.
So, how can we make sure we have friendships that are thriving?
Lose the Drama
I think one of the first steps, one of the most freeing steps, much like in the marriage article, is that we need to identify and eliminate the detractors, the distractions. We all have friends that we know are a burden to us. We all have friends that are detractors, who keep us from thriving. We all have friends that drag us down from thriving back into survival mode, too often.
We all have friends that take excessively more than they give.
In Donald Miller’s book, Scary Close he says this about friendships and his willingness to identify and eliminate the unhealthy friendships, “I’ve learned there are givers and takers in this life. I’ve slowly let the takers go and I’ve had it for the better. God bless them, when they learn to play by the rules they are welcomed back, but my heart is worth protecting… We aren’t the ones walking away from our friends – it was my friend who hadn’t played by the rules and was incompatible in a healthy relationship… After distancing myself from my friend I loved him more, not less. Once he wasn’t hurting me anymore, I could finally have compassion and grace.”
Sometimes we might make the wrong decisions about who to make our closest friends, or maybe our friends change in ways we didn’t expect and our lives are no longer compatible. There may come a time in our lives where we have to be willing to walk away from a friendship that is no longer mutually beneficial. Maybe your friendship is actually doing more harm than good. Be willing to eliminate a relationship with a friend that is not healthy.
I have enough drama in my life. I don’t need a friend that just continues to attract and bring in more and more drama. Sometimes we can eliminate the drama gracefully, but we may have to be willing to burn some bridges. Some “friends” just won’t take a hint. A wise person once said, “Burn some bridges… just to keep the crazies from following you.”
Lose the drama.
After eliminating some of the unnecessary negative friendships in your life you may need to, or desire to develop new friendships. When choosing your real friends, know what is important to you in a friend, and don’t compromise. You have by this time learned some lessons from previous unhealthy relationships. Make sure you are making a wise investment in your new friends.
Choose a friend that will make you a better person and will help you grow. You want to surround yourself with friendships that help you thrive. Shakespeare said that, “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
Make your friend decisions carefully – it’s a potentially and hopefully lifelong investment that you’re making, so take your time. You want people that will always be there for you. You don’t want friends that are too needy or jealous. Focus your energy on a friend that is good for you. You only have one life to live and a finite amount of time and love to expend – so choose wisely.
Socrates said, “Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.” Thriving friendships are so worth the effort, keep them by being a friend that your friends deserve.
Be purposeful about working on your intimate friendships – the ones that matter. You know what I am talking about. Not the Facebook “friends” we have. Not the people we associate with at work, because we are around them all day. Not the “friends” we talk to for a minute in passing at the grocery store or at church. Work on your intimate friendships. The people you could call at 2:00 in the morning and expect them to answer the phone.
We need to be authentic with these close friends. We all desire true intimacy with at least a few people in our lives. We all want people we can open up to and be real with. In order to attract those kinds of friends, we have to be willing to be that kind of friend to them.
It’s scary. We have all been hurt by friends before. You have to open your heart and soul up completely to them. True, open, honest, loving, mutually beneficial friendships will require you to risk getting burnt and being hurt by someone. Be willing to have your heart handed to you on a platter.
Make your friendships count – make them matter. Be deliberate about the friends you choose, but once you have them – go all in! “From the moment I decide you are a friend, it does not matter how long I have known you, because I make a commitment right then and there… To be there for you when you need me. That is the way I live my life, and that fact will never change.” – Aaron Usery
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”
Thrive together with your friends!