What does friendship mean to you?
I have some fabulous friends in my life who make me laugh, hold me when I cry, help take care of my son, cook for me and enjoy my cooking, take walks in city parks. They remind me who I am (a creative, powerful woman), and who I am not (a victim, or a reactive person).
I trust these people, not because they agree with me all of the time, but because they are willing to disagree. They are willing to challenge me to think differently, to grow in my understanding of the world and my interaction with it. They let me rant, without judgment. But then we look at the situation from different angles, and try to see things from others’ perspectives, and figure out how I can best approach the thing pissing me off. They let me cry with self-pity, but only for so long. And then it’s time to do something creative, and be of service.
True friends care enough, are wise enough, and are confident enough to tell you when your behavior is self-centered and destructive. They know you well enough to know who you want to be, and when your actions fall short of that vision. They are more concerned with your health and growth then they are with keeping things comfortable and not rocking the boat.
I have witnessed up-close people do destructive things, and cause harm to others, and ruin their lives. And hardly anyone was brave or invested enough to tell them about the effects of their actions. They thought that it wasn’t their business, or wouldn’t change anything. So when I did hold that friend responsible, I carried all of that weight alone. That is a tough place to be in. Because then your concern can be turned against you. You can become the problem, because there are all these people enabling and “supporting” them to continue as they are.
So true friendship thrives in community… where there is an agreement to hold each other accountable, to provide support in a way that grows us. Where love is interpreted as a love of what is right and true and beautiful. And love that is self-serving and temporary is seen as what is really is–empty. I love being a part of a community of people who I’ve met throughout my life who live all over the world who love me deeply and unconditionally. But I know that if I lose my way I won’t be made excuses for, or dismissed. I will be asked to rise up, and become a more effective and loving leader because of my trials. I can only hope that I do the same for them, and that now, or eventually, they are thankful.
What does friendship mean to you? However you experience it, be thankful for your communities and hold them to that shared standard. Be willing to name what doesn’t contribute to that, and let it transform, in love.
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I am a coach, facilitator and program director in Denver, Colorado. I bring a high-performance mindset from 18 years leading in global corporations, startups, non-profits and Higher Ed. I’ve also honed skills in emotional intelligence and practical spirituality through training with ICF, Shadow Work®, Insights Discovery and motherhood. If you’re ready to do powerful inner work, and also get tangible results in your external environment, please follow my blog and reach out to talk about coaching!
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I value my friends because they help me see myself authentically rather than through a myopic lens that feeds my narrative in that particular moment. Their honesty allows and sometimes forces me to reexamine my motives and to reassess how I move through the world. And now I’m crying, because without them I would be a shadow of myself and with their love I have the confidence to let my light radiate out into the world. Thank-you for reminding me to be grateful for the blessing of friendship. Coming to know you and growing our friendship has been and continues to be an expansive experience.
To paraphrase Seneca…
For what purpose do I make a person my friend? In order to have someone to stake my life for? Or follow into hardship? Or sit with when they are sick? Or is that a bargain, not a friendship; it regards convenience and looks to results as the measure of its utility.
A true friendship exists for itself. Beyond question the feeling of a lover has a feeling of true friendship; one might call it a friendship gone mad. But thought this is true, does one love for the sake of gain or promotion, or renown? Pure love, careless of other things kindles the soul with a desire for the beautiful object, without hope or expectation of a return on the affection. What then? Does such an honorable cause produce a noble passion?
Perhaps the practice of cultivating a real friendship is itself the return on the effort. Maybe the reward of a true friendship is found in the practice not the outcome.