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Archive for the tag “showing love”

The Friend Test

I’ve made friends all kinds of ways.

In the earliest of times, it was as easy as saying: “Hello, want some Skittles?”

Sometimes it was due to an agreement that an injustice had taken place. “She didn’t share her skip it on the playground.” “Yeah, not cool.” “Wanna play at my house after school?” “Sure, just gotta ask my mom.”

Sometimes friendships were born out of group science projects, or after standing up for someone who was being picked on, or just asking a sad person if they were ok.

Some of my friendships were forced arranged situations, like college roommates or some grew out of natural rivalries to be the best at a campus newspaper.

Sometimes if you’ve smiled enough at someone you keep running into on the way to the bathroom at work, you decide to have lunch one day and the hour turns into two. OOPS!

I’ve even made some friends through writing this blog.

But what’s the DNA of friendships? How do we really build relationships with people? And how do these relationships sometimes fall apart and stay apart?

We are told all of the time when on the carousel of friends some folks are a reason, a season and a lifetime.

But I guess the friend-making, relationship-building process always comes down to the same thing.

Attendance. I have friends who live all over the place. I may not speak to them all the time, but my closest friends have spent significant amounts of lab hours with me, practicing friendship. These things consist of hanging out, talking on the phone, traveling, etc. The best way to get to know someone is through spending time.

Some of my fondest friend memories are often me and the friend sharing a meal, laughing or doing something absolutely stupid together. We weren’t anyplace fancy, it’s usually a lazy day talking about nothing and everything.

Listening. Good friends listen. And listen, and listen some more. And listen even if they are tired and don’t feel like it. Sometimes if you have a friend who isn’t a great communicator, you have to work even harder to listen to them when they do share or have something to say.

The voluntary gesture. Actions mean a lot to me. When new friends think of me and show up to something I invited them to, or brought me a favorite candy or offer to take me to the airport, it’s like daum. You really like me and want to be my friend. You went out of your way to do this or that when you really didn’t have to.

Trying new things. Trying new things with new friends can create bonds and memories and trying new things with old friends can breathe new life into the relationship. You may expose fears and or talents that you never knew the person or you had. When you try new things sometimes, you switch personality traits. If you are loud and bossy, you may become quiet and standoffish while your quiet friend may become the leader or the teacher in the moment to pull you through and cheer you on. I’ve seen this happen and it’s a very cool thing.

Reliability. “No, for real. I need a ride to the airport. And the flight is at six a.m. on a Saturday. Yes.” That friend may cuss you the whole way to the airport, but you are at your gate by 5:15, which means they picked you up around 4. Which means they woke up at 3:30 or earlier.

The reliable folks in your life show their gargantuan capacity to love you by doing things like that. These are the people you see through tears in the church as you walk through a funeral procession. They drove all night, but they are there.

There’s a song by Jill Scott called, “Calls” it’s divine. She sings so sweetly, “You always answer my calls when I call, you come.” Let’s face it. The true homies come when you call, and they feel a tingle when you are in need and come anyway if you don’t call. Those are the keepers and those are the ones you want to keep listening to, doing voluntary gestures for and showing up for (Hey, I’ve included the other bolded topics in this bolded topic! Reliability must be huge to me). There aren’t a lot of these people. They are the special ones you treasure.

In a world full of people who do more talking than ever, the reliable people who keep their word are rare.

Admiration. If you can’t name one or two things that you admire about your friends, you ain’t friends. I have some friends where we have straight up love fests about how much we like different things about each other. You don’t have to do that, but even internally, can you look at that friend and say, I really love x quality about them. Wow. No one does this the way so and so does and I’m proud of them as a human being. Andy and Ollie always take it too far on Bob’s Burgers (love that show) but you get the point.

Vulnerability. Can you trust this person? Can you say how you feel? Can this person trust you and tell you how they feel? I’ve mentioned in this blog before that vulnerability is awesome, but it’s something that has to be protected and shared with people who have proven themselves. I’ve also said in real life and in this blog that certain friends have to have certain security clearances when it comes to your thoughts, feelings and emotions and your past. And if you know the weaknesses of your friends, you can save yourself the heartache and disappointment of not going to the wrong one for support on certain issues. Some friends are stronger with business and financial advice. Others are nurturers. Some friends are good at giving the cold splash of reality, while others may take a more optimistic approach and they are good at encouraging you to take risks.

And lastly,

Consistency.  In my world, the people who are consistently themselves and are comfortable with themselves are the ones who end up being the absolute coolest with me. Their courage to be themselves inspires me to accept myself more. And when I praise my friends for their individuality and their gifts, I think it fuels them even more. I know it boosts me when they do that for me. They may grow, they may have bad days or an attitude, but the root of who they are and what they value (core things) and what they believe in DOES NOT CHANGE. These friends may change a job, a hairstyle or city in which they live, and maybe they’ve become vegan, but their general feelings on family, friends, work ethic and respect should be non-negotiable. Consistent attendance, consistent listening, and well, being reliable contributes to being consistent. I have some friends I speak to on the phone. Some via strictly text and some friends I see. Consistent doesn’t mean you have to do these things everyday, but you and your friends have a rhythm. You know when it’s been too long since you’ve spoken and you may drop an are you alive email or text and the person responds right away, or by the end of the day. Consistency to me means understanding the patterns in your relationships with people and sticking with that.

Be a damn, good friend. Damn it.

 

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Love Your Enemies and Grow Like Heck

I’m about to have a God is awesome moment on the blog. If you aren’t religious, you may want to stick around anyway because what I’m about to share is just general good karma/doing the right thing kind of stuff. And if you are interested in generally being a good person, whether you are religious or not, this still can apply.

I’ve mentioned on this blog a number of times a person at work who over the years has done a number of things to make my work life difficult and about two years of hell dealing with her and her nasty ways.

I’ve also mentioned that recently she’s been having a very bad year, bad health in her family, deaths, and difficulties at work. I’ve said I take no joy in her having such a tough time, and my prayer has been to see her humanity and put the past behind me.

Well I had that opportunity. I noticed she’s been out of the office a lot and I stopped by her office to tell her about a new food truck she’d probably like. Well she told me she just returned from a funeral of a loved one and she is drained. The work she left behind for those who were supposed to help her wasn’t done and she basically has to start all over and is several days behind.

She looked tired, and haggard and defeated.

I told her that I was really sorry for such a loss in her family and that usually word gets around the office and that I hadn’t heard anything at all. She said that she felt slighted that no one really offered any support or rallied around her the way others have been treated in similar situations.

While I felt bad for her, in my mind, I knew what it was. Her past behavior, her disregard for other people’s feelings, her negative attitude and unnecessary cattiness and delight in other’s misfortunes turned a lot of people off and now people’s inaction and indifference toward her, during her difficult times is speaking volumes.

So there’s me.

I’ve probably suffered at her hands more than anyone in the entire place.

But as someone who identifies as a Christian (yes, I do. I have A LOT OF WORK), this person being in my life has been a real test. A huge one. God has used this person to stretch me beyond belief. God used this person to make me fight for myself and stand up for myself and show that humility and patience and favor is a very real thing. And as long as I didn’t lower myself, the people who mattered would see and do the right thing at the right time.

And since our troubles, I’ve been promoted twice and when we all had our salaries cut, I was one of the few people able to negotiate to get my money back some months later. God was positioning me. He blessed me to have a great schedule and be able to work from home. He was working on something greater in the midst of a really tough struggle. But folks around me saw that I didn’t have to lower myself, or put her down. My actions and how I chose to react to hers spoke for the both of us.

But the truly amazing thing about God is when he wants to teach us a lesson, he doesn’t stop at one point. He keeps it going.

When I talked to that co-worker yesterday, something in my heart said, get her a card and a little gift. It doesn’t have to be anything big.

So I went to one store and didn’t see anything.

Then I went to Target. I bought a cheap card and carefully looked at the wording. One of the cards, I laughed and said, “Now I’d be lying, so let’s keep this simple.”

Then I looked around for something simple. And found a cute little box of chocolates in the clearance. Between the card and the chocolates I spent less than $5 dollars.

I got to her office before she arrived and left the chocolates and card on her desk.

About an hour or so later I got an email of her thanking me and saying she cried.

That touched me. Because I knew it wasn’t me, it was God using me to bless someone else. And it doesn’t take much, because even though I was being led and pulled to go get a card and some candy, and I obeyed that, I was also saying, “Lord, I know you are leading me, but this ain’t gonna be expensive. I ain’t spending but x amount on her. You brought me a long way, but nah. I ain’t make it that far.”

Her reaction today made me think about God’s love and mercy toward me. He really leaves the past in the past and does not hold my ugliness against me, but still continues to give to me and bless me when I don’t even deserve it, and when I neglect doing what I’m supposed to do for him. We do jerky things, we can treat each other terribly and tear one another down with harsh words. But we wake up to new mercies everyday, with a chance to start over. We have homes, food, clothing, health and family and friends.

I’m blessed. I’m about to spend five days in Curacao next week and celebrate a dear friend’s birthday. I know people who didn’t live to see 31. I know people who have never left where they are from to see something new and me and my friends this summer have been able to visit great places all over this world and try new things. I have an education and a brain and an opportunity to work in an industry that has been hit hard over, and over and over again.

God has protected me and provided for me. I can live independently and pay my own bills every month. My needs are supplied.

I feel great joy today for my blessings and just knowing you can do something small and it can make a difference to someone else. God used me to send a message to my co-worker and I’m proud of that.

It isn’t about her and it isn’t about me.

So if you feel compelled in your heart to reach out and do something for someone, don’t even start making the list of things they’ve done to you or for you. See the hurting heart. Understand that you needed and appreciated a blessing no matter where it came from, you just knew you needed it. If you really feel a pull at your heart to do something for someone, even a person who was against you and treated you poorly, you do it. God is working on YOU by working THROUGH you. He’s helping you grow through that moment of obeying what’s in your spirit and going beyond yourself and your limited sense of human justice and karma.

That’s the end. Do some good today, yall. It can be the tiniest thing that makes a huge difference. Spread love.

 

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