Reflecting on authentic friendship makes my emotions run high. It’s one thing to call someone a friend because it sounds good, but it’s something totally different when you can identify one or more people with whom you can authentically share your life.
Something happens when one finally grasps what it means to be a real friend. Someone you can cry with, share with from the depth of your heart, giggle and laugh like a young girl with, be completely makeup free with, and live freely with regardless of your current state of affairs or actions.
I’ll begin with my daughter. I call her “bold.” Ever been told that you should never become friends with your children? Well, somebody lied. Yes, there is and will always be the need to have tough conversations with your children; however, beyond that can be a bond to be cherished forever.
My daughter, also my business partner with READY Publication LLC, is someone with whom I can have open dialogue. Not every conversation is rosy, but at least I can say we have authentic conversations. While planning my 50th birthday party I knew I wanted to invite my closest friends and family. Regardless if they could attend or not, I wanted to extend the invitation, so I did. When I narrowed down the location to Martha’s Vineyard, chose the home to rent, and picked the dates, I called on the one person I knew would have my back come hell or high water. My daughter. Although she was a college student at the time, she took the time to put in place everything I wanted and how I wanted it. I had full trust in her because I knew she had my back.
Our relationship goes far beyond planning a significant birthday. Dominiq knows she can call me with the best news and the worst news. We have an open line of communication: she knows she can come to me without judgement, and that she will always receive an encouraging word from me. Our relationship as mother and daughter is so tight that she is comfortable sending her friends to me when they are in need of someone who will listen. During my travels to Israel, I needed some insight. Who did I reach out to? You go it. I connected with my daughter. I will never forget her reply after our brief text message conversation. She replied, “Now, what am I to do with this?” I replied, “I trust you to keep it and pray about it.” That ended the conversation. Dominiq, my daughter and my friend.
It doesn’t stop there. Ever had that friend who God chooses to watch over you? That friend will reach out and you’ll give some silly response and immediately that friend will know you are not alright. I call those friends “fierce.” I’m talking about the friend who you could have had some distance from, but when they are struggling you know to drop them a text message, an email, or actually pick up the phone and say, “What’s up?” I have friends who have been around for more than 32 years! Yes, we may have had our ups and downs, but when it comes to the needs of the other, we will set aside any differences and be the first to show up and ask, “How are you doing?”
God has indeed blessed me with friends. At least once per year we have a girlfriend sleepover. Yes, grown women excited to bring sleeping bags, snacks, cases of wine—oh, yes, you read that correctly — and talk about everything and binge watch major series on Netflix. Right now we are trying to find a series to replace House of Cards. You would have thought we were experiencing withdrawal knowing the series has been canceled. We will watch a few episodes, then pause for a fresh glass of wine and to talk about politics around the world. Some of us really want to run for office, and I know one who actually wants to attend law school and become a lawyer. We are able to talk about the real-life possibility of foreclosure, marital relationships, finances, careers, entrepreneurship, weight loss and gain; celebrate birthdays, and so much more. One thing for is certain: we never have to worry about anyone spreading the conversations beyond our circle. I call these women filled with wisdom.
We have checked each other by the means of loving confrontation, encouraging one another, and celebrating one another regularly. Talk about a prayer circle! They will pray Jesus back! When there is a prayer request we stop gossiping and pray. This authentic circle of true sisterhood is a group that I never worry will talk behind my back.
These women are available regardless of day or time. I can say, “I am struggling,” and they will say, “How can we help?” and then begin helping. Oxford Dictionary defines friendship as, “The emotions or conduct of friends; the state of being friends.” I define friendship as doing life together authentically and overflowing with love.
Tweetable: “WhenYouDontKnowWhatToDo have authentic friends you can reach out to whenever you need to process a situation, have fun, pray, or sit in silence.” @GailDudley
Friendship starts with being a friend. Friendship grows deeper when you respect boundaries. Friendship allows you to wrestle through your struggles and gives you space to confront challenges with others who promise to pray you through. Friendship prompts you to reach out even when they want you to stay away. Friendship gains you a profit that is priceless.
I honestly don’t know how I could make it without this sisterhood. From talking real life situations to business deals to financial struggles, my circle of friends challenges me and strengthens me. I remember seeing a question that asked, “Who’s in your front row?” Unequivocally, my front row is filled with amazing women who are confident, bold, fierce, filled with wisdom, and overflowing with love.
Let’s talk. Do you have an authentic group of friends you can reach out to in a time of need or just to connect with from time to time?
Note: This article was originally seen in READY Publication Summer 2018 by Gail Dudley. www.READYPublication.com