I use to hide my birthday from Facebook so that nobody would write me.
Yes, it was that bad.
I did it so that I wouldn’t be able to compare the amount of birthday messages I would get in contrast to my friends. But it was a set up. I literally set myself up for disappointment because then, at the end of the day, I was sad that only three people remembered and I’d be even more hurt.
Comparison really is the thief of joy.
Last year, 2019, I had already started my journey toward healing and part of it was to stop my toxic behavior and let people in. I did indeed plan my own birthday dinner with the help of a friend and it was a lot of fun. I invited the people that were special to me and I mentally prepared myself to accept their genuine birthday wishes without classifying them as generic. (I know, I’m a handful.)
Needless to say, my friendships have really grown a lot this last year. It’s not only the product of a birthday party but instead of a chain reaction that I started in my life of replacing toxic, bad habits with healthy, good ones.
Great, healthy, lasting friendships don’t happen overnight and they don’t happen by accident. People are such complicated beings that it takes effort to relate. But it’s worth it. All the effort that you pour into surrounding yourself with a great circle of friends is heavily rewarded. Here are some recommendations that I’d like to share with you that have worked for me.
Especially if you’re anything like me and you battle with comparison, celebrating others is the real antidote to jealousy. I don’t mean celebrate once a year, I mean celebrate them every opportunity that you get. Make it a lifestyle.
I honestly feel like this is something my friends and I are pro’s at. We are constantly identifying what we are doing good and highlighting it. We do it in front of people and we do it in one-on-one conversations. “Wow, that’s amazing!” “I love that!” “I appreciate what you’re doing!” Those are all expressions that are normal every day phrases in our chats. We are all better as a group because of the talents that we posses as individuals.
A couple of years back, my friend and her husband started a non-profit organization called Greater Than. Their ministry focuses on partnering with established organizations overseas so that, for example, when they fund a well to be built into a community in need of water, there are people that continue to support progress and growth in that community even after their need for clean water is met and missionaries go home.
How HUGE is this project? For me, it seems enormous! I feel like I would never be able to execute a mission like that… and that’s okay! I don’t need to start my own missionary organization in order to be “holy” like my friends. (Ha! I’m kidding about the holy.)
What I have decided to do is celebrate them and support them. I’ve donated of my income into their ministry related projects. Not only that, when my clothing line launches, 10% of all profits from my original “Create a Life You Love” T-shirts will be given to Greater Than for their missions. I’m ecstatic about it!
Make Space for Forgiveness.
Sometimes, if it’s big enough, we talk about it… other times we just forgive in our heart and continue with life. Either way, if you want a friendship that lasts, you’re going to have to practice forgiveness.
A couple of weeks ago I went out with a friend for coffee. We were catching up in life and laughing but there was also something serious we ended up talking about. I friend of hers had pointed out to her a message that I had posted on social media that could potentially be hurtful if misunderstood. I am so glad she came to me and talked to me about it! She didn’t question me or judge me. She simply told me what was pointed out to her and how she felt about it… and she gave me the opportunity to explain. After our talk I felt that our friendship was stronger because of it.
Sometimes we do things without intentions of hurting someone and yet we hurt them. It takes a big person to confront and forgive. It takes a bigger person to admit you were wrong and ask for forgiveness.
Have a Common Goal
Nothing gives more purpose in life than having clear goals. Recently I was witnessing a friend catch up with an old friend of hers and she asked “Do you still talk to so and so?” To which he answered, “No, I don’t have anything against him it’s just he brings nothing positive into my life so we lost touch.”
How often does this happen? Usually after high school and then each time you make a life change. This specific guy that my friend was catching up with was a business person. He makes a living out of two profitable businesses that he owns himself. It’s not shocking that he would leave behind friends that weren’t as focused in succeeding in life as he is.
I’m not saying that we have to change friends every time that we make a career change. I’m saying that you will inevitable surround yourself with people that have your same life goals. If you’re business oriented, you will probably have friends that have that same mindset even though in different industries. If you are family oriented, you will probably have friends that are building a family instead of going clubbing every weekend with a different partner.
My circle of friends is much diversified but I know very clearly what our common goal in life is: to live a life for Jesus. We simply have always been Jesus freaks. It’s how we met and it’s what sustains us. It makes us stronger as a circle to know that we all have different talents and callings but we are all headed in the same direction towards God. In difficulty we remind each other that God is enough and that He’s got us.
It’s true that you are a product of the 5 people you are most around.
Check your circle this week. If there are toxic people that only bring you down, it is not your job to change them but you don’t have to keep them around either. If there are people around you that you love, find ways to celebrate them! If there is somebody that you know you need to forgive… do yourself a favor and make the choice to forgive today.
You are responsible for your own happiness. Create a life that you love… a life by YOU!
If you want to learn more on the topic of friendships, I recommend that you listen to the following message from Pastor Rich Wilkerson of Vous Church. It’s called “Check Your Circle”.