I’ll be the first to admit and own the fact that yesterday’s subject matter got real real, real quick. There wasn’t really any other way that I could address dating relationships, in my opinion. They’re nothing to be trifled with. Hopefully today will be a little bit lighter, as we talk about platonic relationships. I won’t be as long winded either.
Everyone has his or her close group of friends that they spend most of his or her time with. I spent almost every free moment with Forrest, Courtney, and Brittany when I was in Newnan. Those three were (and still are) my best friends. Before I met them, I spent almost every free moment with Richie, Donald, and David, among so many other guys back here in Hampton. We all have our own little community that we get to live life with and have fun.
Friends are awesome. I wouldn’t be able to get by without any. I have a very extroverted personality, so being around people in general gives me energy and livens me up. I try my best not to be a stranger, in that I try to meet anyone I’m around that I didn’t know already. But, you can’t treat your friends and acquaintances the same way that you treat your boyfriend or girlfriend. First of all, that would be weird; you can’t be lovey-dovey and overly affectionate with anyone, so there are certain rules of engagement when it comes to being in platonic community.
You have to be genuine. You have to open. You have to be sensitive to your friends’ needs.
In a sense, the only real difference between dating and platonic relationships is the whole physical aspect. Like I said earlier, you can’t be overly affectionate and physical with your friends. So, what does a friendship require? Here’s what I’ve found, and it may sound familiar.
1. Be willing to work. Yes, friendships take work too. Maybe in different ways than what we discussed yesterday, but we still have to put in effort to maintain the friendship. You have to communicate with your friends, seek out how to help them, be wiling to go out of your way to spend time with them. The list goes on and on. Bottom line: being a good friend means being willing to work. Your friends need you to be loving and caring and dedicated.
2. Be authentic, no matter what. How do you grow close to your friends if you’re not open with them and letting them into your life? I’ve always believed that when we open up to others, two really cool things happen: we give advice about how to avoid problems, or we find someone who understands what we’re going through. Being authentic creates a bond that says I trust you and want to wade through the waters of life with you, brother/sister. We get to be real, hold each other accountable, and see what God does in our friends’ lives.
3. Be clear and transparent. What did I say yesterday? To be unclear is to be unkind. Be clear. Be transparent. This goes hand-in-hand with authenticity. I know it’s a broken record sound, but that’s how important transparency is; it needs to be stressed, especially in terms of community and platonic relationships. You’re short-changing yourself out of transformative and healing community when you aren’t open and authentic.
4. Don’t compromise. Because everyone is wired differently, not only do we need to be careful about who we date and involve ourselves with romantically, we need to be careful about who we make friends with and get into community with. Benjamin Franklin said, “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” The people who you surround yourself with will ultimately determine, whether you see it or not, how you act. We adapt to those around us unknowingly, picking up subtle nuances of others. Because I hung around worship majors and musicians during college and in everyday life, I started to dress like them, act like them, and think like them. I wear skinny jeans, v-necks & button downs, and boots. I think more musically. Surround yourself with people who will sharpen you and spur you to be a better lover of Jesus. Don’t compromise on your friends.
Friendship is fun. I’ve had some of the best experiences of my life with my friends, and I learned more about myself while hanging out with them. Never discount the beauty of friendship, nor forsake it.