What is the real story on friendships? Do they matter? Are they worth the time investment to make them successful?
Today’s interview is with Erin Comer, a ministry leader, mom, and designer. Erin’s life embodies the values of kindness, friendship, and the love of Christ. Erin believes friendship is biblical, a gift from God, and helps you see the bigger picture of the world. I asked her to share her insights about friendship with us.
Question: What is friendship? What makes it work?
Erin: Friendship is about living life together. I have a smaller group of intimate friendships. We interact in a variety of ways from the exchange of a quick text to sharing joy and hurts. My friends and I often eat dinner together, watch our children play together, help each other, enjoy special events, and just do life together. For me, the frequency of interaction with my closest friends is important. It keeps us connected as we support each other in life.
Question: What benefits do you receive from having friends?
Erin: I used to feel like I was better as a lone island, pouring my life into others. I did not allow others to pour their lives into me. In the last year, God has shown me the value of connections. Supportive friendships mean so much. It helps you not feel alone and allows you the opportunity to laugh, pray, and cry with other people.
Question: Tell me about a friendship in your life that has really worked.
Erin: My closest friend and I love each other without expectations. We have a bond spiritually. She communicates truthfully. I am a competitive person. At times, I would become jealous of her. Through this friendship, I learned how to talk to her about my feelings instead of hiding them. My friend accepted me, while pouring love and acceptance into me.
Question: How do you establish a friendship?
Erin: I think you have to be willing to be the initiator. It starts really simple with things like eye contact and a smile. After you have talked to the person for a while, you will find commonalities. This will give you the opportunity to do something together and begin establishing your friendship.
Question: How do you know if you can trust a friend?
Erin: Time! It is important to yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and He will show you if the person is trustworthy. Watching their behavior, things like how they treat other people, also helps.
Question: What advice do you have for someone who struggles to make friends or possibly thinks that no one would want to be their friend?
Erin: You are loved, cherished, and a treasure. I encourage you to learn about your identity in Christ. Friendships are gifts. Your friends will encourage you, but they will not complete you. That job is reserved for Jesus Christ. And. . . just try it! Making a friend may be easier than you think.
Question: Can you tell us about a friendship that did not work?
Erin: It is really hard when friendships do not work out. The best advice I can give is to encourage you to establish your identity in Christ. You are God’s child, and He loves you very much. Friendships will sometimes not work out, and I think it is something we all have to learn to accept.
I had a person with whom I wanted to establish a frienship. She was unresponsive to my efforts. It felt like there was a wall between us. I tried to make it work, but couldn’t. I first checked myself to see if there was anything I could have done to her that I needed to seek forgiveness for. Despite the fact that the friendship did not grow, I prioritized being kind to her and accepting that it was not going to work out. I did not want to force a friendship.
Question: Why do friendships need boundaries?
Erin: Friendships are so valuable, and establishing good boundaries helps them grow. When I did not have boundaries in my friendships, I was always stressed. Friends need to learn how to communicate with eachother. This will allow your friends to be part of your life, not your full life. Good boundaries helped me maintain my friendships along with other priorities in my life.
Friendships are discussed in the Abuse is Not My Story, chapter three. Friendships are valuable. They are treasures. When you spend time with a cheerleader, you begin to see that their definition of you is located in that moment, not in your past. If you struggle establishing friendships, I encourage you to take some of Erin’s advice above and try again. It is a blessing you will be grateful you pursued!