“Your dad is the best friend I’ve ever had,” the man told me, his wife nodding in agreement. If my calculations were correct, this couple had known my dad for no more than a year and a half, two years at the most. Later that day, an old family friend said the same thing.
What a powerful testimony!
Those two brief conversations sparked an internal dialogue that’s continued for the past year: What does it take to be a good — a really good — friend? Here are some lessons in meaningful friendships from observing what my dad and others do, both naturally and intentionally:
Be a Selfless Listener
There are times for two-way conversations, but sometimes a friend just needs a listening ear. A selfless listener doesn’t need to make her point or talk about herself. She asks questions and is genuinely curious about others.
Friendship Is an Open Door
My dad and stepmom have company all the time and always offer a warm welcome and simple hospitality. Although they’ve moved to a new state, they remain in close contact with family, friends, and former neighbors, who visit often.
She’s Got Your Back
A good friend will tell you if she thinks you’re about to make a big mistake, even if you don’t want to hear it. With a true friend, you can agree to disagree. She will let you know when there’s toilet paper stuck to your shoe, or lipstick or spinach in your teeth.
Friends Don’t Gossip about Other Friends
If you gossip, don’t expect your friends to trust you. They’ll assume you talk about them too. Being a gossip is a surefire way not to make good friends.
Through Thick and Thin
A good friend doesn’t desert you when you need her the most, but makes time to talk; she answers the phone or returns the call. True friends reveal themselves in times of crisis.
Last weekend I attended my sister’s birthday party. She had a hard summer and spent a lot of time at home alone. Because she missed her friends, she invited them to her home to celebrate with her. She worried it would be an un-party since she didn’t feel well enough to cook or prepare and she hosted it herself.
But when I called to wish her happy birthday that morning I could hear the smile in her voice. She awoke to find her husband had decorated the house and made a homemade pizza and a cake for the party.
Fourteen of us celebrated together that day, an eclectic mix of the people in her life. Although many introductions were made, the group was bound together by their love of and loyalty to my sister.
She has an enviable support network; I believe that allowing herself to be vulnerable with her friends has drawn them closer to her.
What characteristics have you noticed in the strongest friendships? What are some ways we can be truly good friends?
“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
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