Taken for Granted: Long-term Friendships

Taken for Granted: Long-term Friendships

Friendships have been on my mind a lot lately. Since I’ve been learning more languages, I’ve been striving to learn more about the cultures that go with them. The topic of friendships in other cultures has come up in the language, travel, and lifestyle vlogs I watch.

The German culture has been my main focus lately. German vloggers and expats have brought up the friendship topic several times, and the ones I’ve watched have said that it can be difficult at first to make German friends. This is because Germans are typically more private and keep out of others’ business in general. They are not big on small talk. However, they say that once you become friends with a German you have a friend for life. I’ve even heard a German vlogger say that it’s more difficult to have long-term friendships here (in the USA), and that once you are close friends in Germany, there’s not much you can do wrong to ruin that friendship.

The American culture can be quite different when it comes to making and keeping friends. We are not as private. Small talk is our jam. We strike up conversations with strangers, become social media “friends” with mere acquaintances, and share quite a bit of personal information with others. It’s been said things here are a bit more fast-paced and also temporary.

So, although it may be easy to make friends here, those friendships may be more difficult to keep long-term. I have to say that I have noticed this about our culture even more as social media platforms have grown. We’re quick to become #besties with new friends. All the while, we kick an old friend to the curb because they offended us, hurt our feelings, didn’t do what we wanted, or just don’t fit anymore. We are becoming too vain, and our friendships are becoming too shallow. Roll your eyes if you must, but all too often what I just said is true.

Another cultural difference between us and Europeans is how bluntly they speak. They’re not trying to be mean. They just speak honestly. Ask a European if they like your new haircut, and they’ll say “no” if they don’t. Ask most Americans, and you’re more likely to get a “yeah,” “it’s cute,” or maybe even “it’s different.” We won’t generally say “no” in that type of situation. We live in the land of sugar-coating. Speaking honestly when someone asks for your opinion or advice doesn’t tend to work well here. Trust me; I’ve tried.

We get so easily offended. How dare a friend tell us what we need to hear? How dare a friend disagree with us? How dare they say or do one wrong thing?

Then we go ahead and do some more damage on social media. Seriously, y’all. Social media is damaging long-term quality friendships. Comparing and jealousy are running rampant these days thanks to social media. Before the days of FB and IG you didn’t know that Sarah hung out with Katie on Tuesday nights unless one of them told you directly. You didn’t know that three of your friends went to a concert together unless it was talked about in front of you. You could hang out with one friend without another friend getting upset because they didn’t get invited.

There was a lot let jealousy before we started tagging where we were and who we were with so frequently. I’m not saying jealousy didn’t exist in friendships before. It did. We just didn’t have so much of it in our face like we do now since we’re tethered to a device with multiple social media feeds at our fingertips.

We have got to do something about the decline of long-lasting friendships in our culture. Stop comparing your friendships to picture-perfect ones on social media. Let go of the jealousy that arises when you see a post of your friend with someone else. We’re allowed to hang out with others separately. Stop being so easily offended when a friend speaks honestly. Don’t ask a question, if you only want a sugar-coated answer. And quit being so quick to drop friends you’ve had for years because they made a mistake.

There is not a perfect friend out there. We all mess up. The beauty of friendship isn’t just about who’s there for you when you need them but also being able to extend grace when they need it from you. I trust a friend who’s willing to be honest, disagree, get upset, and still talk to me tomorrow over one that glosses over things and says what they think I want to hear.

You want life-long friends? Have more meaningful conversations, be less judgmental, and be more forgiving.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Prov. 27:6

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be a life-long friend!

xoxo

Ash

Where Have All the Real Friends Gone?

Where have all the real friends gone?

I miss the days of real face-to-face friendship, before Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram took over our social lives. What happened to showing up at a friend’s house to see if they wanted to hang out? What happened to chatting with someone without worrying about what time it is or notifications beeping from our cell phones?

When did we allow ourselves to become so busy that we’re too busy for friends, but we can get lost in social media, YouTube videos, and Netflix? When did we forget the importance of making time for what really matters in life, like relationships, family, and genuinely connecting with others? My much younger siblings would probably just say I’m getting old.

Hmmm…Growing up. Getting old. Too busy. What terrible excuses those are for no longer spending time with other people.

Growing up, getting married, and having kids shouldn’t be excuses for not having friends. We don’t stop needing friendships, ever. We’re not created to be alone all the time.

We still crave community. We’re just seeking it the wrong way now. We’ve become too comfortable with clicking “like” instead of talking to each other. Commenting on one photo is not equivalent to catching up with a friend. It doesn’t compare to sipping a coffee and chatting or meeting at the park with your kids.

We’ve gone into hiding because of social media. We’ve built a wall between our posts and our real lives. That filtered photo with makeup just right translates into us not wanting to be seen at home without makeup. How dare we allow friends to see what we look like anymore?

The sweet sleeping children photo becomes a mom turning down a visit from a friend because she can’t possibly let them see the day-to-day truth of the messy house and kids running wild. One might think she doesn’t have it all together or that she’s not a perfect mom. Oh my!

I don’t care if you have makeup on or your house isn’t spotless. I’m not wearing any makeup right now, and no matter how often I clean, my house is never spotless. So friends, come on over! This is me. The real me. And I’d like to get to know the real you again.

Stop worrying so much about looking perfect. Don’t worry about what the house, the kids, and the husband look like. Just start reconnecting with other people again.

At the risk of sounding old again, call a friend.

Wait…what? You want me to phone a friend? Isn’t that a life line in some former game show?

We may have forgotten, but let me refresh your memory. That tiny computer your holding in your hands can still make and receive phone calls. You know, that magical ability to hear someone’s voice from far away?

Ok, sorry. That’s a bit heavy on the sarcasm.

Seriously though. We should give that a try again instead of letting the last of the telemarketers and the scammers make up the majority of our incoming calls.

But what about texting? It’s easier. It’s more convenient. Um, yes and no. It’s easier for the person who doesn’t feel like answering someone right now or the person who likes to have time to think of a good excuse to why they can’t do something. So, texts are another avenue for laziness, excuses, and even misunderstandings because we can’t type 100% the way we talk. The tone of our voice and little ums and hmms make a difference.

So, call a friend if you’re brave enough, or text if you must. Just make a move to reconnect. Make plans. Show up. Stop worrying.

There are things to do, even if some activities now seem uncool or outdated. Invite others over for dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Cook out. Order in. It’s about the company more than the food. Play board games. Adults don’t have to stop playing games.

Do something simple. Go for a walk with a friend. Go for a drive. Take the kids to the park. Oh, and don’t forget that your friends who don’t have kids still exist too. We often get neglected once everyone around us becomes parents. We still need friends.

Those who work on making time for meaningful relationships with friends and family are happier people. Once our basic needs are met, happiness increases more based on our experiences with others than just having more things or more money.

Let’s stop focusing on likes, comments, and emoji and return to conversations, laughter, and hugs. Let’s be real friends again.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be a real friend!

xoxo

Ash

Punishing Others

Do you punish people in your life? Let’s look at a few ways we tend to punish others as adults and may not realize that we are doing it.

Punishing a Spouse – This is a big one. Have you ever punished your spouse by withholding anything? Laundry, dinner, or dare I say affection…? Maybe he didn’t notice the sparkling kitchen you spent hours cleaning, which caused you to think “let’s see if he notices when I don’t clean.” Maybe he didn’t fix the loose cabinet door, the leaky faucet, or something else you’ve been begging him to fix for several weeks. So, you decide to punish him by not showing affection. Have you done things like this? I have, and my actions didn’t create any better results. Your spouse is not your child. Communicate and ask for changes in an adult manner, with love and respect.

Punishing a Friend – How do you treat a friend that upsets you or doesn’t do what you want them to do? Do you punish them by telling them you’re too busy to hang out? Do you get back at them for not answering you soon enough by not responding to them at all? Maybe you go do something with another friend and post about it just for spite. It happens. Wanting to punish a friend is not loving. Allow your friends to make mistakes. Allow them to do things how they want as long as there is give and take overall. If you don’t let things go or address the issues and move on, it could eventually destroy a friendship.

Punishing Fellow Christians – It happens too, even at church. We expect more out of fellow believers, especially at church, because church is supposed to be a place where you can trust others to show love and forgiveness. However, I have seen and experienced punishment in the church through someone giving a cold shoulder, not being asked to participate in certain groups, or not being allowed to serve where best-suited because I or someone else couldn’t help when or where it was requested. Punishing someone inside the church doesn’t draw them closer. It pushes them away. Church is supposed to be a safe place for love and correction, not grudges and punishment.

Often times, when you punish someone for not doing what you want them to do or for hurting you, you end up making matters worse for yourself too. When you punish someone, you are inflicting suffering. That’s what punishing means. Think about this for a second. Do you really what to inflict suffering on your spouse, a friend, or inside the church? If you want someone to do something for you, or do something a certain way, then go about in a loving manner. Don’t punish someone for hurting you or not doing what you want.

People are going to hurt you sometimes. Nobody is perfect. Paying them back by punishing them is not the answer. Love and forgive.

“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” 1 Thes. 5:15

Be brave!

Be blessed!

xoxo

Ash

Loving Your Friends (Love Series – Part 2)

Loving Your Friends (Love Series – Part 2)

Some people expect friendships to just be easy. There’s a problem with that. Friendships are a type of relationship too, and relationships have their ups and downs. The closer you are with a friend, the more the relationship will be similar to that of a marriage. There’s give and take. You’ve got to put in some effort to keep the relationship going. So, don’t expect all your friendships to just be easy peasy.

Here are some reminders on how you can be a more loving friend.

Don’t overanalyze – In today’s text crazy social media world, we tend to spend more electronic time with people than actual physical face time. When messaging someone we miss out on a few social cues like tone of voice and body language. Sure, we have a plethora of emojis to choose from to try to convey the mood or tone of the message, but even those don’t always come out right or get interpreted the way you intend. Remember this before being accusatory or getting upset with the way a friend responded.

Also, don’t overanalyze when a friend doesn’t respond right away, even if it shows that the message has been seen. There are times when I “see” the message, but I’m currently in the middle of something else and don’t have time to respond at that moment. Sometimes I’m trying to finish something else, and I accidentally open a message I wasn’t ready to read yet. If someone doesn’t answer you right away, it doesn’t always mean she’s trying to avoid you. She just might need a hot minute to finish something else before responding.  So, don’t overanalyze.

Give grace –Have you ever had moments where you’ve thought, if she was really a good friend, she wouldn’t do that to me? I have. You know what I say to that? – Are you perfect? Nope. Didn’t think so.

I don’t care if she’s been your best friend for 5 months or 5 years, don’t be so quick to throw a friendship out when you get hurt. People make mistakes. You’re going to have disagreements and misunderstandings, especially the longer you are friends. Give grace.

Listen – Sometimes we all just need someone to listen. It feels good just to get out some feelings without expecting the person to offer a solution. Try to listen more and interrupt less. Also, pay attention while listening. Put the phone down and be present with your friend.

Make time – I think one of the best ways to love a friend is to give them your time. Look sister, I know you may be busy. We can all use that excuse. Yes, I said excuse because that’s what it is. We all have things to do, and outside of working and sleeping we choose what to do with the rest of our time. I know moms with several kids that still make time for friends. It may be difficult, but if you truly want some friend time, you’ll make it happen.

Let’s try to stop using the phrase “we need to get together soon” and start saying things like“hey girl, what are you doing next Tuesday…” When you continue to tell someone you want to get to together but neglect to put actual plans in place, the words lose their meaning. Love you friends and follow through by making time for them.

If you want better friends, try being a better friend!

Be brave!

Be blessed!

xoxo

Ash

Up next, Loving Strangers. Be sure to Subscribe to my Tribe below so you don’t miss any posts!