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What our friends need most from us…

Day 27 of 31 Days of Connecting

I fully intend to listen well. To be a good friend as my friends have been to me. To support them as they have supported me. And yet, I find myself doing it again. Focusing on me.

While she shares her struggles feeding her baby boy, I’m trying to think of ways to fix him as I “fixed” my sons (sort of ignoring the reality that her struggles with reflux, allergies, and other traumas are nothing like mine).

While she shares her problems with her marriages, I find myself comparing her relationship with her husband to my relationship with mine. And instead of listening, or letting her know I was listening, I am now rattling off my own story.

Or, while she is sharing a triumph, a milestone with her kid, I find myself feeling defensive and as if I am failing in some way because my sons didn’t walk until they were 19 months old, didn’t talk until they were 2 years old and are generally clumsy with the gross motor skills.

And the worst yet, is that while she is crying over her struggles, her pain, her need, I find myself uncomfortable with her circumstances and instead of sitting down and mourning with her, I am emotionally distant, offering my well-meaning-yet-missing-the-point-entirely advice, followed by an emotionally empty truism.

The unfortunate thing is that we think that when we’re doing these things we are empathizing. Unfortunately, the reality is, we are not focused on the other person or caring for their needs at all, but are thinking of our own. We are uncomfortable in their pain and while we think we are trying to make them feel better, we are actually trying to make ourselves feel better.

What our friends need from us is not to hear how our circumstances were worse or better. They often don’t even want advice – (a safe rule is don’t give it unless asked). What our friends need most is for us to get down with them, offer a shoulder to cry on, and to be with them.

What our friends need most from us is us.

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And that is what makes all of the difference. When we do this for one another, suddenly we are not so alone. Suddenly, our circumstances seem manageable. Suddenly, we are validated in our needs, our feelings, our very selves.

The next time I am with a friend, I will try again. I will shut my mouth and let her talk. I will put myself in her shoes and allow myself to feel her pain. I won’t try to make myself feel better by trying to fix her situation, or minimizing it, or allowing myself to feel like a failure. I will just be with her.

As she has been there for me.

Day 27

 

31 days of connecting

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9 thoughts on “What our friends need most from us…

  1. Oh, Leah. I’m so guilty of this too. But how do I comment on that and support you without redirecting your comments to MY struggle?! 😉 That’s a tricky one. I think sometimes my ‘big sister’ persona seeps into my friendships. And I think my sisters would say that sometimes my “parent” persona seeps into my sibling relationships. I try to improve, but I try to show myself some grace too. It’s from a place of love, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! … I hear you, one big sister to another. This post is just one thought I’ve had of many relating to supportive friendships. It’s hard and I’m grateful for those who’ve shown me grace along the way. We’re all learning!

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  2. I love this kind of talk- being gut honest about how we (I) relate. I think some people are afraid to go there with themselves. This post tells me you want something more. That you long to be a real, genuine, selfless friend who really has your friends best interest in mind and totally focused on them and not yourself. I love your longing and it takes the realization that you need Christ’s help daily. Every hour. In our friendships! This is a good self awareness post! Love it!

    Like

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