“Let’s be women who no longer compare and compete, but celebrate and complete our friendships…with the unique offering we bring.” Renee Swope

On a sun drenched Saturday, us girls gather at Jen’s house, each bringing a glass or porcelain plate. On Jen’s driveway, we take turns dropping our plate. After each one shatters, we walk around and pick up a few of each other’s shards to add to a few of our own.

Because this is what good friends do, become safe places to break wide open and share the shards of the mess.

We take each other’s broken plate pieces and place them in heart-shaped molded plaster. When we are satisfied with our individual mosaics, we work grout in between the shards.

Because this is what the best kind of friends do, they hold onto each other’s broken parts and encourage Christ’s love to enter all the in between places.

Sometimes I’ve done this well and other times not so much.

If you expect me to be a perfect friend {sister, daughter}, you will be sorely disappointed. I mess up and can be selfish and want to talk too much and listen too little. I laugh obnoxiously loud. I might forget your birthday.

Only Jesus gives us never-disappointing, always-fulfilling friendship and support. And when He guides me to the story of Ruth and Naomi, I smile remembering one of my favorite pictures of genuine friendship.

Ruth had such devotion to Naomi, she vowed not even death itself would come between them. Ruth adopted Naomi’s faith, so she knew they would spend life in eternity together. But while they lived and breathed on earth, Ruth would do everything in her power to be the kind of friend who celebrate and complete Naomi. In other words, Ruth would not do anything that would separate their hearts or drive a wedge in their friendship.

Like the colorful pieces in a mosaic, loving friends in practical ways  reflects vibrant beauty. And while those outward expressions show love, my inward heart must be in the right place. Because like the grout between glass and porcelain shards, the right heart holds everything together. To ensure a right heart within me, I must make wise day-to-day decisions on how to interact with my genuine friend, to not do anything that drives a wedge in our friendship.

So, I keep this tucked away. I don’t follow it perfectly, but it shows my heart’s goal.

A Manifesto for You, Friend

I will be a safe place. I won’t share your confidences.

I will talk about you behind your back, and I will use words that build you up and show you off.

I will defend your reputation rather than contribute to its demise.

I will show humility through encouragement, and do my best to let my actions reflect the way Jesus sees you.

I will allow a united spirit of completion rather than a divisive spirit of competition enter our friendship.

I will pray for you when you ask me to.

I will be accountable and trustworthy ~ my yes is a yes.

I will be for you and not against you, even when what I say may sting a bit.

I will be there to share in both hard and good, to divide the sorrow and double the joy.

I will give your kids extra grace when they are ornery in front of me. And when they are having a moment, the only thought I’ll entertain is it must be your turn for the hard day. Yesterday was mine. And probably tomorrow, too.

I will forgive you when you make a mistake. While I can’t control how you behave towards me, I can control how I behave towards you. And I’ll do my level best to err on the side of grace and love. Because heaven knows I need to receive it as much as I need to give it.

In friendships, where do you struggle keeping your heart in the right place? What mosaic pieces of friendship would you add to the manifesto above?

Kristen Strong, Chasing Blue Skies

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  1. 1

    Beautiful Sigh Line:

    Because this is what the best kind of friends do, they hold onto each other’s broken parts and encourage Christ’s love to enter all the in between places.

    Thank you for that wonderful image and reminder that only Jesus can enter and completely heal the in between places!

    Blessings,
    Angie

  2. 3
    Felicity says:

    I really love the idea of a friendship heart mosaic – it’s inspired me!!

  3. 5

    I cannot help but to consider this manifesto for my groom and me. How important *friendship* is in marriage, too. This He leads me to consider today and I’m grateful.

  4. 7

    a fun craft … a fabulous manifesto, a creed to live and love by. thank you!

  5. 9

    Such good reminders, Kristen. Protecting those beautiful friendships in our lives is vital. The heart mosaic represents friendships/relationships perfectly – love that and your explanations throughout!

    • 10

      They deserve to be protected, don’t they Kerry? But sometimes I allow selfishness and pride to harm my relationships. I need remembering most of all!

  6. 11

    Thanks for this Amazing devotion ♥

  7. 12

    Wow! What a beautiful thing. I needed to slow down and really read this…and want to do it again and again.

    I want these words to be “my own”… if you know what I mean. Wowzers…

  8. 14

    AMAZING. This is a keeper and I think I can place sister and wife in a lot of these lines too. Thanks for taking the time to write and then to share. Such power in your words.

  9. 16

    I’m inspired, too!

  10. 17

    I absolutely love this Kristen. Thank you. Friendship is so important to me but I am afraid in the busyness of motherhood and life it’s taken a back seat aside from the weekly mommy lament phone calls and venting. Sure, we are encouraging one another and are there for one another, but I want my friendships to continue to go to the next level of depth. I want to nourish and grow my relationships beyond helping one another survive the days of being mom to littles. This post has truly inspired me. Thanks again!

    • 18

      Ya know Jessica, parenting littles is so tiring and non-stop, I can’t help but think your encouraging one another during this season is part of deep-friendship work. I’m not sure I would have survived those years myself without some good mom friends. But yes ~ it is so wise of you to keep in mind these “next level” friendship desires! Thank you for being here, friend. We appreciate you so!

  11. 19
    Susanne says:

    Oh my goodness, what a beautiful post. I’m a bit speechless. What a wonderful gift you have been given, to have several women participate in this glorious friendship. To be very honest, I can’t think of even 5 others to share this experience with. Maybe in spirit, but not in a driveway actually performing this gesture. The actual act of melding your hearts stands for so much must be such a comfort and in its own way a relief. I hope that some day I can have a “smashingly” wonderful day in my own driveway. Thank you for sharing this all of us. It’s really great!

    • 20

      Susanne dear, at that time, I lived in a neighborhood full of military wives like me, and it was a beautiful (in)RL community. {I wrote about it here: http://www.incourage.me/2011/08/what-to-do-when-youre-in-the-desert.html }

      Now we live all scattered around the country and are more “in spirit” friends than local, but yes, I still cherish all those memories, including my mosaic plate. :) But for you, my dear? I pray God brings you some beautiful souls to hang with…and to have that “smashingly” wonderful day of your own {grin}. In the meantime, know our God loves you wildly and We. Are. So. Thankful! to have you hear, melding your own heart and your own story with ours. We adore you!

  12. 21

    Kristen, this is so very wonderful and needed. Girlfriend, you made me cry! I’m forwarding to my best girls. :)

  13. 23

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you!

  14. 24

    Oh Kristen….just beautiful! How we hold one another’s brokenness and fill the in-between spaces with our love…may I be that kind of friend. Thank you for this!

  15. 26

    This is the “Best” piece on friendship I have ever read and that is saying a lot since I have read a considerable amount. It is a well written and thought out piece that makes its point not only through the written word but with a visual element as well. Great job Ms. Strong.

  16. 27

    I love the craft and I love the symbolism you used to describe the craft. What a fantastic idea!

  17. 28

    This was so special. I love the whole thing; from the smashing of plates, to the reuniting of multiple different pieces to the manifesto. Absolutely wonderful!!!

    Can we share the manifesto?

    Hugs!!
    Cat

    • 29

      Thank you Cat!

      And feel free to share the manifesto via the link to the post. And thank you for being a part of our community, Cat. You are beautiful!

  18. 30

    xoxoxo

    thanks friend.

  19. 31
    Julie Anne says:

    I wish I had read these words BEFORE I experienced a week with my sister in law…

    “I will give your kids extra grace when they are ornery in front of me. And when they are having a moment, the only thought I’ll entertain is it must be your turn for the hard day. Yesterday was mine. And probably tomorrow, too.

    I will forgive you when you make a mistake. While I can’t control how you behave towards me, I can control how I behave towards you. And I’ll do my level best to err on the side of grace and love. Because heaven knows I need to receive it as much as I need to give it.”

  20. 32
    Rebecca Petersen says:

    LOVE this. You do a fantastic job living this and a wonderful job writing and sharing it. Thanks for both.

  21. 34

    I would love to make a mosaic heart! Do you have any directions on how to make the heart?

  22. 35

    “And while those outward expressions show love, my inward heart must be in the right place.” Hit hard. I have been through a time where my inward heart was not in the right place and friendships were damaged. Some lost forever because my outward expressions were all the right responses but my inward heart was wrong….not towards my friends but in general. When it all came crashing down, I lost everybody but my God and my family.

    A part of me now does not want to expose myself to this hurt again. Therefore, I am keeping to myself and it is very easy considering we work the night shift.

    • 36

      Dear Dawn,

      truly, what sadness shows thru your reply, how much hurt. Please, give yourself another chance. Jesus sure does! Please try again. Don’t hide yourself! God didn’t put you on this earth to hide away in the dark. He needs you, your story, your experience, to reach out to other women that also may find it hard to be a good friend. Please, don’t take away that blessing away from that woman that is waiting for you, and please, don’t withhold that blessing from yourself too.
      I’ve messed up in friendship, one in particular. And sometimes I feel ashamed. But the next moment, I realize I can use that situation to teach others and to never make that same mistake again…
      Take care!

      • 37

        I agree with Dawn. Too many hurts! Too much withdrawal instead of deposits drains the human reserves to such a dry place that to try & replenish it takes oh so much. When another casts evil doings evil judging evil period its time to find new friends. However when so drained it doesnt seem worth it.

        • 38

          If I might quietly suggest reading this (in)courage post by Ann Voskamp entitled “If You’ve Ever Been Wounded by Women.” http://www.incourage.me/2011/09/if-youve-ever-been-wounded-by-women.html Oh my, how I’ve been where you are and it makes you want to crawl under your bed and hide.

          I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through. Truly. I pray our God meets you where you are and gives you renewed strength to keep on keeping on. May your dry places become well-watered gardens as He refreshes and sustains you. YOU are worth it all and we love you!

    • 39

      Dawn, I’m so sorry for the pain and loss you experienced. In one way or another {large scale or small} I think most women have been where you are. I certainly have, and I *know* the temptation to keep to myself. For me, I learned that the only thing more difficult than the risk of being hurt again is the pain of loneliness. Like Hilde says, don’t take the blessing away from that woman waiting to meet you and don’t withhold that blessing from yourself too. You are such a gift ~ a treasure, Dawn! You are forgiven and loved.

      Thank you for sharing your heart here. *YOU* are one beautiful, unique mosaic piece with a valuable story, and we need you.

      • 40

        Thanks for all the kind words. I am trying to reach out again by making the huge step of attending She Speaks in a couple weeks. However, I am still near tears when I think of the group of ladies I knew for so long that I seem to have lost. My pastor gave a message on friendship this past Sunday and it was tough.

        Please, understand the women I refer to our not bad women. I love them all dearly but it hurts how things were handled. I tell myself to get over it but haven’t yet.

        I will read Ann’s post. Thank you again for the encouragement.

    • 41
      Anonymous says:

      Like Paul Tripp says, “I don’t move toward you because I trust you….I move towards knowing this will be potentially messy. I move towards you because I trust GOD….I move towards you because of the CROSS.”
      God bless you sister…..

  23. 42

    I love this! What a terrific craft, and perfect gift. I’m thinking, Mom, Sister, Daughters, as they are my best friends too. The words are beautiful, and something to keep out so we can all live by them. Maybe my Granddaughters too!
    Lisa

  24. 43
    Susan Liehe says:

    Is there a downloadable version of your “Friend Manifesto”? Loved your heartfelt thoughts!

  25. 44
    Linda Kistler says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful experience! I would love to do this with the ladies in the church where my husband pastors. However, I am not crafty so where would I find, or how do I make the heart-shaped plaster molds?

    Thanks again!
    Linda

  26. 46

    Wow… beautiful. It reminded me a bit of a situation that I had this week with my sister:
    http://murmursofmyheart.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/to-speak-love-and-grace/
    Wondering if I might forward these words on to her. She is not only my gorgeous sister, but my friend too and I love her immensely.

  27. 47

    Beautiful, thank you :)

    I had tears at the example of breaking plates then picking them up together…what a wonderful experience! And, the manifesto is a wonderful affirmation of friendship…as I read I also had the strong prompt to treat myself in the same manner as expressed in the manifesto.

  28. 48

    I love the image of a mosaic- broken and made beautiful. And it challenges me as someone who has recently moved to a new state to invest in new friendships by not being afraid of the mess and seeing beauty…right from the start.

  29. 49

    Love the friendship mosaic…reminds me of “What a friend we have in Jesus”…just wanted to share this God-moment with you all…the other day, I was driving to work and the Brandon Heath song, “The Light In Me” came on the radio…I’m singing along with Brandon and then suddenly, as if a voice was whispering in my heart, every time I sang the words of the song…”The Light”…what I heard in my spirit sounded like…”De Light”…so I sang along with these new lyrics… “You put De Light in me”… “You put DeLight in me”… Oh, yes, of course, “YOU put DELIGHT in me!” What a joy! What a revelation! God himself put DELIGHT in me…I love the Scripture Psalm 37:4…“Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I even wrote a blog post about it http://bethwillismiller.blogspot.com/2010/10/delight-yourself-in-lord.html
    Now, I will never hear that song or read that Scripture again that I am not reminded of that moment, the ah-ha awareness of His Presence in my car with me as I drove to work and sang and listened to Him speak…It is not me who has to “work up” delight in the Lord, HE has already put DELIGHT in me :)

  30. 50

    Hi Kristen
    I’m a grandma, and so an older blogger.
    I’ve come to realize that there’s a very unique place my girlfriends fill that no one else in my life does (in the same way, that is).
    With my friends , I am a PERSON devoid of roles and responsibilities that cause others to sometimes equate me with that role.
    I am so grateful for my friends. And so I guess I would add to your manifesto,
    “I thank GOD for you, dear friend. And I thank YOU for loving me for WHO I am!”
    Blessings to all true friends!
    Jan

  31. 51
    Rhonda says:

    Kristen – what a great and awesome time of sharing you and your girlfriends must have had! I too would love to know how to make the heart mosaic so that I can share with my girlfriends the healing of broken pieces. It has also been a huge blessing just reading all of the comments as well – thank you for sharing!

  32. 52
    Beth Williams says:

    Jen,

    Love the idea of a heart mosaic that displays both the brokenness & healing of our lives.

    You are fortunate to have such good friends to share life with! Treasure every moment with those girlfriends!

  33. 53

    I love, love, love this devotion & the idea. How inspiring! I am so in awe of people God has gifted to write, i have things in my heart, but can’t express them. This is wonderful, i definately will use it!! Thnks so much!

  34. 54

    Loved this. It’s so hard to be a good friend at times. I needed these gentle reminders today of what a true friend is.

    • 55

      It is, isn’t it? Thank you so much for calling them “gentle reminders” ~ that’s exactly what I hoped for. And I need these reminders more than anyone!

      Thanks for joining in the conversation, Kay. Thankful for you!

  35. 56

    This is wonderful advice and thank you for sharing and helping so many of us to reconsider and re-evaluate how we treat our friends of every kind.
    I am not being critical but wonder if you didn`t mean “I won`t talk behind your back” , rather than “I will..”.
    Thank you again for sharing your heart`s words with us.
    In His love & service.

    • 57

      Ah, Kim, I almost changed that because I thought it might read awkwardly, and perhaps I should have. I am implying that I WILL talk behind their back but use only words that build up and edify their reputations. As in talk about them in good ways. :) If that makes sense? Hmmm, maybe I should still change it to read a bit more smoothly.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I so appreciate you!

  36. 58
    Valerie says:

    Kristen,
    I love this! I read this on my way to meet a friend for lunch today who I had pulled away from because of a difference of opinion. I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect but your piece encouraged me and my fears were unfounded. The afternoon went great and our friendship is back on track. Thank you so much for sharing your heart!

  37. 59

    I love this idea! I have had some VERY close friends for the past 6 or7 Yeats. we really clicked as couples too, we traveled together, churches together, were on small group together, played and celebrated together. not anymore , not
    sure what happened, but we have been dropped. I am having such problems keeping the neg. thoughts out of my head and heart. I have a clear conscience, I miss my friends or those I thought I could trust . I am sad not mad,lonely. please pray for me!

    • 60

      Sweet Ellen, I’m praying 2 Corinthians 10:5 over you right now: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Relish in some Truth girlfriend, and don’t let the Enemy convince you of any nonsense contrary to that.

      Praying you have some resolution to this soon, friend. Oh, how our God adores you, heart and soul. We do, too. xo

  38. 62

    This is a wonderful expression of friendship. I will have to send it to my friends. Thanks.

  39. 63
    Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful picture created from the melding of hearts in Christ…such art in your heart and in your words…
    And oh, how I wish I could be a part of that kind of art…to have friends who would allow me to get close–not just for my own comfort, but also to get close enough to offer what God has gifted within me to share with others…to be part of the divine give and take of interdependence that depends upon Christ and enters into the lives of others…to be included…such a wondrous dream…

  40. 64

    Happy tears for your beautiful friendship! Love you so much!

  41. 65
    My sister's sister says:

    I have been so close several times to unsubscribing from this blog but I think today was the best ever for me. I found that it seemed to be primarily for Moms and that is not my description so about 75% had almost nothing for me. However, the “Heart in the Right Place” and the manifesto hit my heart. I think from now on, this blog is worth “wading through” and mining for my gold. Blessings – E

  42. 66
    Kristin says:

    Did you realize that in the friendship manifesto you wrote that we will talk behind your back to others? Typo. I wanted to share it with my ladies from our meetup and they found the typo – not a good friendship builder. I would love an updated one without the typo or permission to just retype it and let them have that. Thanks.

    • 67
      Kristin says:

      Just found your explanation above – sorry. I explained that to them and they got it – so no worries. :)

  43. 68

    Kristen,

    The pen that stretched your heart to this manifesto upon it’s original writing, the beauty which exudes from it now as it hits email inboxes in the inRL ebook, friend, thanks for living this out loud for us to learn from.

    May your friends be this declaration back to you and may we all together stay devoted to not driving wedges and demanding worship in our friendships. Best to you!

    Nasreen

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  2. [...] on a spirit of completion rather than competition to enter our [...]

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  4. [...] I loved this post by Kristen Strong–When You Need Your Heart in the Right Place {and a Friendship Manifesto}  [...]