People sometimes talk about the ugly truth…Well, there is something to be said for being honest. For being able to be real and open with the people in your life. Not having to mask stuff. Let me give you an example.
I have a friend, let’s call her Mary. She had a C-section with her first kid. It wasn’t a great situation. Maybe she actually didn’t need it. As in, it moved things along but probably didn’t save any lives. The healing process hurt like crazy. But when people found out she had a C-section, they all had pretty lame responses. “What’s important is a healthy baby and a healthy mom.” “Aren’t you glad for modern medicine?” “Praise God for doctors.” Now, while my *friend* Mary agrees with each of these statements, a nice, “Wow, that really sucks. How do you feel about it?” would have been so nice. Sometimes, things can tend to get sugar coated. Honesty is beautiful.
So there’s that. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me cut straight to it. A lot of boring, terrible, not so great stuff that is unhelpful in building meaningful relationships gets excused or passed by under the guise of “honesty.” You know, “just saying.” I’m just “calling it like I see it.” Yes. Honesty can also be ugly.
I am aware that life is hard. Very disappointing sometimes. Maybe because I read too much as a kid, I never really looked at hardship as a good reason to hate life. You don’t have to be fake and sugar coat things to see the hardship as it is, but still find hope in a situation. Disappointment and hope CAN actually both be at work in the same person at the same time.
You don’t have to have your whole life pulled together or feel super happy about everything in your world to speak courage when you spend time with a friend. You can be honest about where you’re at with things, but not let discouragement be your only vantage point.
In friendship, I dare you to pay attention to how much time you spend talking about the parts of life that bring you down. The things that leave you feeling disillusioned. I’m not saying don’t be real. I’m just saying this, friends may be the best therapy, but they are not your therapist. As you make friends, yes, be honest. But also be INTENTIONAL. Speak about the things that feel depressing and frustrating to you. But also, speak about things that make you feel happy and alive. Speak about the hopeful ways that you are looking to change your world and the culture around you. Ask questions. Listen.
When people walk away from spending time with you, how do they feel? Assuming that friendship is a two way street, they need to go away feeling at least a little bit heard, a bit encouraged, a bit loved. So be aware what you can add to the conversation to bring these things. I mean, it’s your friendship. You can do what you want. But these things make the relationship SUSTAINABLE.
This morning I had coffee with a dear friend. By coffee, I mean, we sat on the front porch steps in the semi-cold (dog was barking inside!) and forgot to make coffee, (seriously who does that?!?!). She shared with me what’s going on in her life: her whole family displaced from their home, all their homeschool books destroyed, coping with broken phones, broken computers, and all around craziness. Despite the insanity of her life, I came away from chatting with her feeling energized and refreshed. She has learned to be honest, but full of grace. She is truly like the proverbial woman, she laughs at the things that come her way. What an example to me of a Godly woman and a kind friend.
If you only take one thing away, let it be this: Build friendship in a way that is honest AND hopeful.