Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Friendship Revisited: Taking Stock!

DISCLAIMER: This is not pertaining to any particular human being. It is an overview people...

Let me start by saying friendship is a very beautiful thing. For people like me who have no blood sister, great friends become like sisters to me, or even brothers. Friends make you laugh and friends make you smile. Friends love you for you and friends make you feel good about yourself. Friends do not expect you to be perfect and friends will fight for you and on your behalf. Friends keep you company and friends always show up. Friends forgive wrong and friends help you be a better person. Those are just a few of the great things I think of when I think of true friendship.

But we sometimes overuse the term friendship. Nobody wants to say someone is an acquaintance so we call them friends. Nobody wants to accept that even though someone was a very good friend at some point, the relationship has changed somewhat for whatever reason. And nobody wants to say someone is a co-worker or really the friend of a friend. We instead label them friends too. If we start by re-organizing our labels, it may help make our expectations more realistic and how much of ourselves we divulge to avoid future hurt.

Some people are in your life for a REASON, some for a SEASON and some for a LIFETIME. It helps me keep things in perspective when I remind myself of this saying. When friendship does unfortunately go wrong, realization of this fact helps us understand that it is not abnormal that this can sometimes happen. And it's alright to let it go as long as you don't become evil in the process and do things you'll need to be sorry for, both to the person and to God. "Be angry but do not sin; Do not let the sun go down on your anger..." Ephesians 4:26. It truly is easier said than done however but we should try and keep things in perspective even if there is an arguement and not just a drifting apart.

Recently I had to take stock of friendship on the whole, emotionally and socially. As we grow older, we continue to learn. It's a dynamic process. It's a daily process. And we should also open ourselves up to change. If a new situation or challenge presents itself, go with the flow; get with the program to fix it or adjust to the change depending on what the situation demands. Also, learn from it. In addition to the following pearls I came up with while taking stock, less talking is always a winner! When there is strife, stop engaging the person in conversation, period. Who knows what could happen if you don't stop talking?

1) As you grow, everyone in your life is not going to grow with you or in the same direction so you may automatically grow apart. It's much like some marriages unfortunately. If you don't pay attention to the warning signs, it may shock you when it blows up but hey, "It is what it is!"

2) As God elevates you, some of the people you always thought you could count on will shock you by turning their back on you. They may not know how to get you out of the little box they've always had you in mentally! Then they'll convince themselves you are fake or misrepresenting yourself rather than realize they hadn't been paying attention. It could be various reasons. They may just not agree with your apparently new visions or philosophy. They may be envious of your success and cannot adjust to you not being the underdog in their mind. They may misunderstand you. They may feel insecure. They may think they know you so well and be stuck in twenty years ago instead of rediscovering you as you have rediscovered yourself. Every situation is not the same and it's not every situation that can be fixed. It may just be time to move on.

3) You should actively pick your friends and not passively let friendships happen. Much the same as a lady would process dating prospects in her mind and have a written or unwritten criteria, one should have one for friends too. Though sentimentally one wants to stay friends with childhood or long-term friends, the reality of it is if you are not in the same place, space and time anymore, you may need to redefine the relationship, keep a comfortable distance or even weed some bad eggs out.

4) You should not befriend everyone who tries to befriend you because it can come back to bite you in the rare! I have a good and a bad habit with regard to how I make friends. The good part is that I am careful and slow to make friends and I don't make too many friends because of a morbid and real fear of hurt based on past experiences. I get me; I am unique but some other do not get me and instead may think I'm weird. That's fine but they shouldn't be my friends if that's what they think of me! I cherish friendship; I think it is sacred and special and I consider my few core friends my sisters for reasons previously mentioned. I don't take it lightly. The bad habit on the contrary concerning how I make friends is that when someone actively tries to befriend me, I am not as careful. I let their apparent niceness cloud my judgment instead of making sure we have the same value system and enough of our core in common. It's those issues that usually come back and bite me in the rare unfortunately. My university days were a period in which I made a lot of friends because they chose me and not because I necessarily chose them and I'm still getting fall-outs from it unfortunately.

5) Get rid of dead weight in your life. When people who have whole converstaions with you that leave you feeling sour, empty or drained because it was all about strife with someone or the other and proving how tough and difficult they are; or a lot of negativity always ensues, maybe even gossip, they are not the best for you. People who do almost all the talking, never listen and keep jumping from one topic to the other should make you uncomfortable. If this kind of energy dominates the conversations or most of the picture, and it bothers you or it interferes with where you are in your life, you don't need it. It may be wise to put some distance to the relationship or just nicely let the person know you don't really want to talk about those things. That's easier said than done however, especially if you unfortunately get drawn into the negativity of the moment yourself. That little bit of honesty may just trigger them to get nasty too so that may not always work.

6) Unless you are loud and verbally abusive yourself, do not make friends with such women (I say that because mostly women get that way or at least we hope!). It's only a matter of time, they will do it to you too. When it happens, you will feel like you're in a movie or a freak show. I promise you. And you will have to check yourself and your ability to judge character and all that. But don't be too hard on yourself. People do change and they may not be the same person they were years ago anymore and not in a good way. Or they may have just refused to grow and it's getting quite old staying in high school mode. Vindictive, unforgiving people need to be avoided. They always cause trouble.

7) Join yourself to people who have substance, depth and are bearing fruit and not people who constantly engage in strife, put people down, are prideful and feel they are better than others and just generally make too much noise. Empty barrels? In Nigeria the saying goes: "Empty barrels make the most noise." Here's what I say to that: "If you do not bare fruit, I will spew you out of my mouth!"

8) You should let impossible people have the last word so you don't start to look like them yourself. Instead of responding like this when they call you names or go off on you:

"You coniving vicious little two-faced *%$#^!" (a quote from some place I can't remember!)

You can respond like this instead:

"God bless you too!"

(In your mind better still so as not to elicit a response because you know they won't leave it down. They have to respond. That would be a WWJD (What would Jesus do) answer. Jesus does not like ugly so rather than be ugly, keep it moving.) Note that people will say anything to you to hurt you and make themselves feel better. It's ok. They expect a comeback and they feel stupid when you are instead silent. Abrasive confrontational behavior is unbecoming of grown folk. Do not be caught up in it. Respect yourself.

9) Get far away from people who are verbally abusive on facebook; people who literally explode if your view differs from theirs! They are unstable people and will ultimately make you a target someday. Some people do not have a frank psychiatric disorder but they may have Borderline Personality Disorder (an actualy medical diagnosis) that causes them to split and see people as all good or all bad at different times with extreme reactions either way. I can't be your hero this week and villain the next. I'd rather just be me. (Borderline personality disorder (DSM-IV code 301.83): extreme "black and white" thinking, instability in relationships, self-image, identity and behavior.)

10) Re-evaluate friendships and relationships. If you haven't physically seen or been around someone in a long time, do not ignore subtleties in conversations that you pick up on and question transiently. That may just be the key that you are on different wavelengths. For example, it may even be an obvious reference to something or several things that show they have no idea who you are presently or what you stand for. Maybe they never even took the time to understand you. That is unhealthy.

11) Nobody is all good or all bad. Do not be sucked into that need to be right or let hatred germinate and grow in your heart. Attribute it to ignorance on their part. The fact that you no longer get along with them does not make them bad; just not a right fit for you. You can even remind yourself of some of their good qualities if it helps you keep your perspective. They hopefully have some good qualities. It's ok to be the bigger person.

12) Beware of people who think they are doing you a favor being your friend or the friendship is based on some kind of pity, the word think being the operative term here. It's their perception that makes the difference. It is not wrong to have friends who have more than you. Economic advantage never makes another person better than you however. It is always hard for such people to adjust to not seeing you as that needy person they perceived you as, even though you may never have been needy in that sense of it; it may just have been where you were in your life then. It usually ends badly though. Pay attention.

13) Do make sure you learn from every situation. That's what life experiences are. Whatever the lesson is in each situation, you need to get to a place where you get that lesson from it. Apparent disappointments
initially will turn out to be major blessings. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Would you really not have wanted to know if that person thought all those awful things about you but pretended to be your friend all this while? The truth sets us free. Nobody needs a friend in their life who does not think the world of them. Seriously! Life is too short.

14) Remember it is never about the quantity of friends one amasses. It's always about the quality of them. If you have 2 friends and they are like sisters and tried and true, that will do you more good than fifty back-biting, roudy, superficial, materilistic, 2-faced friends anyday!

15) Forgive. Pure and simple. If you don't forgive, you're not any better than the other person. WWJD?

Most importantly, love yourself and be comfortable with yourself because you spend the most time with you! So people, your friendship is sacred, it is special, it should not be given or taken lightly! Let's try to remember that. Friendship is a wonderful thing but when it becomes stressful and high maintenance for you psychologically, it may be time to move on. Unlike marriage, there is no vow or covenant that it must work. It may be better for it not to work...

**I in no way subscribe to malice. You need to make sure the soon to be ex-friend knows you wish them well and God's blessing's still, regardless.**

Like cousin Barack, negativity just has to roll off of me like a bad thing!

1 Thessalonians 4: 11
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you..."

Who knew that was in the bible? Ha. Channel your energy elsewhere when it gets confrontational. I write and it's therapeutic! Volunteering is always very rewarding as well. Or just work hard too. Lol. I try to do that as well.

Hebrews 12: 1
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

"I do not have a single day of my life to waste on your baggage."
Pastor David Cooper Mt Paran Church Atlanta GA. That should be your attitude to naysayers.

Yes, so let us concentrate on the friends that understand us, love us and accept us for exactly who we are even as we grow and let the rest of it go. Let us concentrate on what is important and leave the rest to sort themselves out. Biko!


Folake, forever keeping it real.


  1. facebook comments:

    O.M.: Wonderful advice!

    Folake Taylor: Lol. Just keeping it real. Too much abuse out there!

    M. A.: Heart felt.....

    Folake Taylor: lol

    L.A.: wow...true friendship is very hard to find, but if you are blessed with one or two... cherish it. In life you will find people who appear, disappear and re-appear in your life for a reason - you may know or not know. in all Love God, be nice to people and enjoy being your core self, remember you cant please all...even most people. After all said ... See Moreand done, you came here alone and will leave alone... you owe your life to God alone. Do what is pleasing to Him 'cos He is our eternal hope.
    - Love God >>>> Love people>>> change the world!!!

    Folake Taylor: Thanks for that L.A. Great insight and addition. Like I say, if I can count one or two, that's fine by me!

    Y.O.: true, most especially #4 & #8. But hmm Folake you sure can write o. when is the next book out?

    Folake Taylor: Thanks my

    Folake, this is so good, precise and to the point...thoughts are well balanced. Honestly, you have nailed it on the head. I love people generally but I am usually scared of getting close to people 'cos of what you already touched upon in your beautiful write-up. Basically, it's all about the value system of each individual; go with the flow when... See More the value systems match. I find out continually that we, women, talk too much and are generally unable to keep confidence...not all, though. You confide in somebody close to you and she tells somebody close in confidence...strange folks, strange.
    I love 1Thess 4:11...caps it all for me. Keep keeping it real, dear. This should be the subject of another book.

    T.K.: Thanks auntie!

  2. Facebook exchage:

    S. A.: Wow, to think i didn't read your piece before i wrote my note.

    Folake Taylor: I know right. Thanks for stopping by. Same traits, same experiences. Life!

    A.A.: Thanks for living up to the promise that you were going to write about this...I wrote this comment half way through the definitely know about the 'ART OF FRIENDSHIP'...cheers!

    A.A.:keep it coming...

    Folake Taylor: Thanks my dear. I had to work on it; that's why it took a while.