I wanted to write about friends. I wanted to tell you about some of the best friends I know. They may not be my best friends, although many of them are, they are simply good people who are good at being friends.
If you’re reading this and you’re my friend, please don’t think this is guide to loving Sarah better, there are plenty of things that make a good friend. Personally, I make an effort not to fake friendship and so if you and I are friends the chances are that I really do like you! This is a reminder to myself as well as to you about how we can make life a little bit lovelier for each other.
They make you feel at home.
I love it when I feel at home. When I go home to my parents I feel like that, but there are not many other places where I feel like that. Some of my friends though, have perfected the art of making me feel at home. I can’t put my finger on what makes me feel at home. I think it has something to do with the fact that they have things that I’ve bought or made for them around their homes, or that my name is on their to pray for board, or that they have my photograph hanging on their wall. I like that I am part of it.
It definitely has something to do with not feeling like an inconvenience to be there. That I can help with the kids reading, or make myself a cup of tea without asking. It also has something to do with the effort my friends make to welcome me, so not that I just turn up and I fit into their family life, but that I turn up and their routine has to change a bit, but they don’t mind because they want me to feel at home there.
Then there are those other wonderful friends who have the gift of making people feel at home at places other than their own home, that might be at a home group they attend or at church or anywhere really. Those people, I think, are brilliant.
They criticise you for your sake.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a chat with various friends about what they’re doing in life really irritates me. Of course, I dress it up in ‘this is to help you’ language, often it isn’t really to do with them, it’s not damaging or sinful, it would just make my life marginally nicer if they stopped doing it. It might be that their behaviour is sinful or damaging but, I don’t tell them to be helpful, I tell them because it is pretty damn annoying!
I’ve got a friend who I don’t see very often anymore, but for a time we spent a tonne of time together. I feel like he knows me pretty well and he makes it pretty easy to be honest with him. Every time I see him, I prepare myself for a telling off. And I love him for it. You see, he’s not telling me off because he wants me to be a better friend to him, or because I’m doing something that’s annoying. He tells me off because he genuinely wants me to be a better person, for my sake, and for the sake of the Kingdom of God. He tells me this stuff honestly and humbly. Some of the stuff he’s heard from our friends, but mostly it’s stuff that I’ve told him about my life and journey, he’s a pretty discerning young man! He’s usually right, and I usually go away feeling good about myself! He’s a brilliant friend! I’d be pretty happy if I got to be as good at being a friend to someone as he is to me one day.
They don’t make excuses for you.
I’m a little quirky, I’m loud, a bit outspoken and I like a bit of controversy; but I’m pretty happy with the person I am these days. If I’m honest I sort of expect my friends to be. There are not many things that I enjoy less than a friend who feels the need to make excuses for me. When I meet their friends or we meet new people they say; ‘that’s Sarah, she might seem a bit [insert aspect of my character that my friend is not so keen on today], but she’s actually an lovely person when you get to know her.’ Errrrr… actually no thank you mate! If you’re happy to be my friend in private, please be proud of me in public. Likewise I shall try not to make excuses for your inconsistent theology, or your preoccupation with the ‘problem with the church’ or your daddy issues, even though you make it very difficult not to!
They understand what is important.
I enjoy naps and spending time alone. In fact if I’ve not had at least one nap and one evening in alone each week I’m not a very happy young lady. I also eat slowly, and I don’t share my food. These things are very important to me. My friends understand this. I love it when I can say to people, I can’t see you tonight, I’m having the evening in. I know they are friends. When I just tell you I’m busy, and I’m actually staying in it is probable that I don’t trust you enough to tell you that I need time alone. You see, my friends understand that this is not selfish behaviour, it is that this makes me, me. The best way I know to be me, is to process, alone! Sorry about that!
I’ve got some friends who process aloud, and they are some of my best friends, I love listening to them, but it took me a long time to realise that they didn’t mean what they said. They were just articulating their thoughts aloud, and that’s alright. I understand that is important to them and I don’t really question them if they change their minds, I’ve sort of come to understand that what they do out loud is what I do when I spend an evening by myself.
I’ve got some friends who value confidentiality, not that they tell me secrets particularly, but they want what we say to remain between us, so for them I try not to relay their stories to our friends before they’ve had a chance to do that themselves. Sometimes I fail because I forget, or I forget how important it is. I’ve got friends for who it is really important to be on time. I try to respect that, and in that show them that I love them and they are valuable to me.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading! Feel free to leave comments about the things you value in your friends. I tweet here. Thanks for reading!