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4 ways to doing friendships on purpose - Guest Blogger!!!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Hello, Lovers! Happy Valentine’s Day 2017! 

I am so excited to share this post today. I wanted to discuss friendships here on the blog and I could not think of a better person to start with other than one of my closest friends Mary-Ann! Mary and I met in 2010 and have been rocking ever since, well we had a little break but that’s not important. Haha! Actually, that is what this is all about, celebrating friendships and learning how to be a friend on purpose. Mary helps me a lot with my photos for the blog, so I was very excited to get her in front of the camera. One of the major things that I learned in 2016 was the importance of maintaining healthy friendships and Mary was for sure one of the people that helped me get that lesson.  I thank God for friends. 

 Well, here’s Mary’s dope post in her own words……

Friends are truly the family we get to choose! One of my favorite scriptures on friendships is in Proverbs - "a friend loves at all times" (Proverbs 17:17a). This is so helpful to me because it challenges me to question where my heart is and if I love my friends from a sincere place. It really encourages me to be purposeful, which is what I want to focus on in this post.

Doing friendships on purpose!

I think there is a much different approach we must have in order to maintain and develop our adult friendships, than those we have had since childhood. To be purposeful in our friendships, we need to start by asking ourselves what that even looks like. I always thought I needed to be any and everything I could be to all of my friends all of the time! This caused me to sometimes go way beyond what was even necessary for a particular situation. Well according to that scripture, my purpose should be to love my friends at all times! ALL times? Really?!?! What a charge right?? 

Well in order for me to do this, I had to invite God into my friendships. It is easy to pray about my family and my romantic relationships, but before recently, I hardly (if ever) prayed about my friendships. Inviting God in and committing to praying about my friendships has enlightened me to quite a few things I needed to begin to doing on purpose. 

The first way I sought to do friendship on purpose was learning to be accountable

I have never really considered this as something that was important or anything I was interested in with my friends! LOL! I have always been pretty protective over my private life and being accountable meant giving someone else access to information that can sometimes be embarrassing and vulnerable. My adult friendships helped me realize how guarded I was around my own issues, insecurities, fears and failures. While I was happy to provide accountability for others, I quickly withdrew into myself and would not allow anyone into those deep places I am sure God was eager to heal in me through my friendships! Inviting God in, through prayer, has helped me understand why this is so important. With God, friends can stretch each other, check each other, affirm each other, celebrate together, cry together, and support each other and so much more!! 

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT

The second way I sought to do friendship on purpose was learning to walk in forgiveness

This is a biggie for me!! All relationships that have access to feelings carry a risk as well…being hurt! Whether we hurt our friends or they hurt us, it is imperative for us to forgive both them and ourselves. Without forgiveness, we end up inviting a ton of other issues into the friendship (bitterness, shadiness, tension) and it is hard to move forward healthily. God has done quite a bit of work on me in this area. Sometimes it seems too hard to forgive when you have been betrayed or hurt, but the freedom I have experienced by choosing to forgive has been invaluable. The Bible helps us see that God wants us to live at peace with others, to be kind and forgiving and that there are benefits in it for us too!

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT

The third way I sought to do friendship on purpose was by being more committed

Since we CAN choose our friends, sometimes it is easier to dump them too! Trust plays an important role in commitment. Without the wisdom of God, it is impossible to rightly determine who to trust, be vulnerable with and give that access to. Being committed to someone is to obligate yourself to that person and just like with forgiveness there is some risk attached to that. I think God wants us to commit to our friendships more and not jump overboard with every twist and turn of rejection or betrayal. There's a resilience we can learn in our friendships that can help both people grow tremendously!

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3 NLT

Lastly, the fourth way I sought to do friendship on purpose was to increase my self-awareness…

This point is sort of a combination of all the others, in that the self-awareness my friendships now provide me is crucial to knowing what is in my heart or lying beneath my surfaces that I cannot see. Because we cannot really experience ourselves the way our friends do, they are there to help us identify certain actions that are clear indicators of deeper problems. Without some of the things mentioned above (accountability, forgiveness, and commitment), it will be hard to allow our friends to actually help us with our heart checks…but the value is irreplaceable! True friends are able to genuinely, yet gently, help bring us into a revelation about ourselves and out of attachment to our negative behaviors and attitudes. THAT is love and "friends love at all times"!

I can honestly say that I am truly grateful for my friendship with Tot because we have had experience and growth in all four areas! Our friendship has endured a large amount of failures and successes and yet we are still really great friends! After some time, it was clear that our friendship had a purpose that was far beyond what we could see, but it was not until we both invited God in that we could begin to value the good, the bad, the ugly and the exciting. We are both extremely committed to being open and honest with each other in ways that stretch us beyond our limits!

We have recently figured out that although we share many of our views on life we are actually very different. Almost extreme opposites in some areas! She is pretty transparent, while I kind of prefer not to talk about most things. With transparency, she is open to way more criticism from me, the very thing I am ultimately trying to avoid! LOL! And through my privacy, I can often feel like my personal space is being invaded by her. Both scenarios have happened quite often and have threatened to be the end of our friendship on so many occasions!! LBVS!

 Though at times very difficult, the great thing about letting God in to our friendship is that He is able to lead and direct our emotions, thoughts, responses and even energy toward dealing with the less than desirable aspects of each other’s personalities. We often have to stop and pray in the middle complicated conversations or tense situations in order to prevent a really bad argument or hurt feelings. Sometimes, because of our prayers and purposefulness, God will direct us to shelf certain topics until we are both able to deliver and receive from each other without any stress! God has helped increase our respect for each other’s emotional and physical space, and while this formula could never lead to perfection…the effects have been so positive!

The funny thing about this post being about doing friendships on purpose is how much it lines up with who Tot is and what her entire brand is about! One of her taglines is “Living Purposefully”. Upon meeting her, living on purpose was one of the first things I learned about life from her. We even joked about creating a workshop to help people Live Their Best Realities (we should trademark that.. LOL!) She actively helps me love on purpose, forgive on purpose, dress on purpose and even be a better mom on purpose. There are so many things she helps me figure out by way of accountability, forgiveness, commitment and increasing my self-awareness and I am a better woman for it!

On the flip-side, I have also left some impressions on her life as well! I helped her understand that God is a loving Father that desires a very personal relationship with each of us. I actively help her seek God more purposefully by fasting on purpose and praying on purpose for everything we could ever need…even those things we do not readily consider (i.e. your co-worker who won’t stop looking over your shoulder). I even help her grow creatively by challenging her with questions I am not always sure why I am asking LOL!! This all similarly comes by way of accountability, forgiveness, commitment and self-awareness, as in my life through her!  While our friendship is still a work in progress, because of our decision to let God in, we help each other do our friendship on purpose! 

Through our many peaks and valleys, we truly understand how iron sharpens iron and we now know that the lessons learned from our failures were actually meant to serve as the bridge to our greatest victories! This would have been completely and totally impossible without God. Our Father in Heaven, never intended for us to live life alone and He created the gift of friendship for our benefit in multiple ways. Purposeful friendships maintained through constant prayer and communication with God is my greatest lesson learned through my adult friendships. This purposefulness cannot happen without full dependence on your relationship with God. By cultivating your relationship with God first, all your other friendships will succeed as well! 

“But seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”. Matthew 6:33 NIV

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