How to Be a Friend

When I first saw Lisa Welchel’s book Friendship for Grownups, I wasn’t very interested.  I kinda wondered how she could write a whole book on friendship.  I mean, it’s not that hard—is it?

I should have realized, from all our moves and from my desire to return to Alberta because “our family and friends are all back there,” that friendship is harder than it seems.  As I heard Lisa talk at Women of Faith, I found myself thinking hard about what she said.

Lisa shared how she grew up in the ’80s as the lead actress in the TV show The Facts of Life (if you recognize the show, yes, you just revealed your age; I didn’t know the show, but my husband did—he even remembered the name of the girl Lisa played when I described her as “the blonde main character”).  Lisa was so busy learning lines for the show that she didn’t have time to learn about friendships as most people do in their teenage years.

I could identify with that.  By the time I reached junior high and high school, I didn’t have many friends.  Two of my friends were in public school; they didn’t get off the bus until 4 pm and usually had homework to do.  My homeschooling friends around the block had moved to Colorado.  And my best friend, who had been homeschooled, was now doing part-time courses at the local high school as well as distance education courses that required a lot of time.  My friends became the characters in my novels until I reached university.

As Lisa talked, I found myself nodding and taking notes.  She shared there’s a difference between being vulnerable and being transparent.  It’s easy to be transparent when writing a book or a blog post or speaking to five thousand women at a conference; there’s an arms-length distance that makes it safe.  It’s harder to be vulnerable when you are speaking one-on-one with a close friend, opening your heart to him or her—and risking getting hurt.  I can think of only a couple people whom I’m truly vulnerable with; one is a friend who went through all four years of university with me.

Lisa went on to say that our hunger for connection is stronger than our fear of rejection.  That’s easy to see in people who’ve suffered from a bad romantic relationship, yet start a new one right away.  God created us to be in relationship, both with him and with each other; think about how He said in Genesis 2:18, “It’s not good that the human is alone. I will make him a helper that is perfect for him” (CEB).  We’re still afraid of being alone; we still want someone who is “perfect” for us.

Lisa Welchel’s words touched a hole inside me that made me realize I still thirst for friendship—but I won’t get that by hiding myself.  I need to reach out to my friends, even to my family, and to risk being vulnerable.  I’ve come to realize that too often, I get busy with my writing, my routines, my daughters and I don’t make the time to connect with my friends.  Clicking “like” on a Facebook status to show that I’m aware of what a friend is doing doesn’t count as connecting!  My challenge to myself is to pick up the phone at least once a week to call a friend.

Can you relate to either my experience or Lisa’s?  What friendship advice would you offer?

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  1. Koala Bear Writer November 26, 2011
  2. Midge November 26, 2011

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