I have a friend like that. Every time I ‘ve talked on the phone with her there is just so much to say, so much to catch up on, and so little time. I hang up, and then all these things that I wanted to talk about, but never got the opportunity to say, come flooding back. The only reason we have to end our calls is because one of us has to go do something, or we are about to run out of minutes.
This is the type of friendship I just love to have in my life. The type that unconditionally loves; the type that listens; the type that brings clarity and joy. That is the truest of friends.
It’s the best when you can find a balance between the light and fluffy chats and the deep and meaningful ones too. Talking about the real stuff, the rough stuff, the rises and the falls. There's nothing I love more than a juicy D&M (deep and meaningful conversation).
But what about friends that are a struggle to love? The friendships where you put so much in, and all you get is a generic Facebook wall post saying “Happy Birthday, hope you have a great day!” Is that all I'm worth to you? Do I not deserve a personalised message, or even better a text or a visit? Or the friends that come to you only when they want something? Am I only valuable for one-off exchanges, where I give you something, and don’t get anything in return? And then you begin to wonder if you're being selfish for wanting some type of return for your love and friendship.
It’s easy to love the friends that make life so much brighter and happier, but the friends that bring true meaning to the concept unconditional love are the ones that maybe need our love the most.
Sometimes our friends actually need us to pull them up on their questionable practices and just say, “Hey, I know you’re better than what you are doing.” For me it’s difficult, because I don’t want to create conflict, Saskia and conflict don’t exactly walk hand-in-hand. But I also want to be fearless, I want to tackle issues head on, and to not be afraid of saying what’s on my mind. Realistically, it would be so much easier for me to pretend I don’t notice what's going on in my friends' lives and to shrink away from confrontation, but where’s the growth in that? How will I ever learn to be a better friend if I don’t start acting like one?
Yes, “love is a two way street” (thanks Kimbra), and yes, “me and you, it takes two” (thanks Mary-Kate and Ashley). But sometimes there are phases where you actually have to get over yourself and put in some one-sided effort, for the sake of your long-term friendship. I can honestly say in some of my friendships, that if I hadn’t pushed through phases where I was putting in all the effort, I wouldn’t still be friends with them today; our friendship could quite possibly have just faded away. Sometimes my friends may need me more than I need them, and that’s okay.
So being brave, confronting issues head on, and selflessly loving are all of benefit to me as a person, and as a friend. Maybe my friends might not appreciate it at the time if I’m encouraging them to confront issues they haven’t wanted to face? Maybe I’m opening my friends’ eyes to a wider and deeper perspective of themselves? Despite the initial hurt or confusion, surely it’s better for us to be challengers and catalysts of growth in our friends’ lives in the appropriate circumstances and situations?
Being friends is so much more than having someone to have coffee with; it’s about support and trust, love and encouragement, laughter and connection. When friends are in dark places, it’s our responsibility to support them through that time. Loving the one that is hard to love. Sometimes the risk of conflict is high, your friends might take offence, and they might walk away. But I ask you this, is it better to stand by and let your friends go down a drain, or is it better to be there in the drain with them, pulling them out to safety? What have I got to lose? A friendship? Well, yes. But is this person worth taking that risk for? Well, yes.
Be not afraid of conflict.
Take your torch.
Shine the light to safety.
Be the friend you would want to have.