Be the Friend You Want to Have

BY JESSICA JOHNSTON

Friendship that is like family doesn’t happen overnight. Jennifer Garner posted a quote the other day that said, “The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.” Friendship is just like that. It happens over days and weeks and years of constantly investing in someone and making time for them. It’s a thousand little decisions to show up and be an extraordinary friend.

My friend, if you are lonely, my best advice is to love yourself enough to be the kind of friend you’ve always wanted.

Be the kind of friend who texts when you’re thinking about them and who buys them flowers just because. Be the kind of friend who notices when it’s been a while since you’ve seen them and says things like, “Hey I miss you; let’s get together this week.” Be the kind of friend who asks how they’re doing and then listens (and truly cares) about the answer. Be the kind of friend who is true to her word and who shows up when it matters.

Be the kind of friend who is the first in line to hold that baby and the one who orders their favorite pizza to the hospital room after birth. Be the kind of friend who says how you feel about them and hugs and says “I love you.” Be the kind of friend who prays and encourages. Be the kind of friend who assumes the best, not the worst. Be the kind of friend who stays and works it out when there’s conflict. Be the kind of friend who doesn’t gossip and who always sticks up for her people.

Be the kind of friend who gives more than she takes. Be the kind of friend who cares so deeply and so wholeheartedly that it’s a risk, because the risk of friendship is worth it.

Be the kind of friend who doesn’t shy away from hard stuff like depression, anxiety, and grief. Be the kind of friend who holds space for her people and is present in the pain. Be the kind of friend who celebrates their wins like you’re their very own cheerleader. Be the kind of friend who buys champagne and makes a big deal over even the smallest things.

Be the kind of friend who stays. If someone is truly narcissistic or uninvested in your friendship, it is totally OK to walk away. But if you are just hitting a rough patch, or they’re just suddenly annoying the crap out of you, be the kind of friend who stays. Be the kind of friend who talks about stuff that’s bothering you instead of pulling back. Be the kind of friend who will fight for your friendships like you’re in the ring fighting for your life.

Extraordinary friends fight for their friendships with all their hearts, and they don’t walk away without being bruised and battered from trying.

My friend, listen to me, because this is so important: don’t wait one more second for that friend to show up in your life. Go and do it and be it, and it will be contagious.

Extraordinary friendships are built on people who decide to be extraordinary friends.

Extraordinary friends are people who love ridiculously and extravagantly and without expecting anything in return.

Yes, you will run into people who don’t deserve you. You will give more than you get sometimes. Nothing is ever lost by being generous, my friend. If you made an investment with no return, thank you. Thank you for your investment; it wasn’t wasted even if it feels like it. If you realize that relationship isn’t ever going to be mutual—it’s also TOTALLY OK to walk away and invest somewhere else.

We live in a very lonely world where so so so many people feel isolated and disconnected. How do we change that? We just start. We just start somewhere. We start loving and pursuing and being the kind of friends we’re longing for. We don’t overthink it, we just begin.

And then? When we find our people, we hang on for dear life and we love them with our whole hearts.

We refuse to let pettiness or small things wedge their way between us and WE STAY.

Because extraordinary friendships are built on people who decide to be extraordinary

Don’t forget your girlfriends

EMILY WILSON HUSSEM

Relationships are exciting, especially in the very beginning.

I will not soon forget the excitement I felt on a day-to-day basis when I was first dating my husband. Every time he texted me something sweet and every time he called me on the phone, I felt a burst of excitement in my heart. It is easy to get carried away in the newness and excitement of a budding romance, and very easy to begin to spend most of the little free time you may get with a busy schedule with your boyfriend. And in the midst of all the excitement and butterflies, it is easy to put your friends on the back burner.

I have seen this happen more times than I can count, and I have walked away from friendships over this. It is a difficult facet of being a woman — the reality of trying to balance your relationship with your boyfriend while not forgetting your friends — or trying to wave your arms wildly (and figuratively) so that your friend with the boyfriend remembers that you exist. I believe that managing the balance of a romantic relationship and your friendships takes three important ingredients: intentionality, care and communication.

The most important thing to remember in the midst of trying to balance your friendships with your romantic relationship is that most romantic relationships do not last forever. I’m not trying to be a negative Nancy, but that is reality — most romantic relationships will end in a breakup! Some people marry from their first relationship, but many people have a few relationships before finding “the one.” This is so very important to keep in mind as you date because perhaps, like me, you have watched this unfortunate scenario play out countless times: a woman gets into a relationship and slowly stops putting time into her friendships. Her friends feel forgotten and as though she doesn’t care about them, so they begin to let go of the friendship, too. Sooner or later heartbreak hits and her boyfriend breaks up with her, and she is left with no one to turn to because she made her boyfriend her entire world. She spent every moment with him and just forgot her friends — imagine losing your boyfriend and realizing you have no friends who want to support you in your heartbreak — that is a recipe for serious sadness! Thankfully, this can be avoided!

Another important thing to remember is that both you and your friends must be realistic about what is reasonable in striking this balance between maintaining your relationship and your friendships. Your friends cannot expect that things will be the same as they were before you got into the relationship, because it simply can’t be! You also need to be realistic in the sense that yes, if you spend three weekends in a row only spending time with your boyfriend and not your friends, they will feel forgotten and set aside.

The core of all of this, in finding the balance in friendship and romance, lies in communication. Friendship is a mutual relationship where two people should have the ability and the courage to be open and honest with one another — in joys and in struggles, in fights and in working through obstacles together. Communicate your feelings. Let your friends know that you want them to communicate their feelings to you so you can learn and grow together as you navigate your relationship. If you are hurt, say so. If your friend is hurt, encourage her to say so. And if either of you are being over-sensitive and holding unrealistic expectations, you can go back to the conversation about what is realistic to expect of one another in the friendship and overcome that obstacle together.

Intentionality, care and communication. When you maintain these three ingredients in your friendships as you balance everyone you love and everyone who loves you, many misunderstandings and miscommunications will be avoided, and you will be able to journey happily together with both your boyfriend and your friends in harmony.

Emily Wilson Hussem travels the world speaking to women of all ages about their identity in Jesus Christ. She has dedicated her life to encouraging, equipping and empowering women to live in the freedom and joy they were made for. She lives in Southern California with her Dutch husband, Daniël, and son, Zion.