A dear friend of mine, Sara, has been wise to remind me of an important truth for the past three decades of my life: “It is good to share your heart and your deepest desires with a friend, but choose these friends with care and never feel like you must share your heart with everyone.” Only the truest of friends should have the right to hear what your heart has to say.
Having always been an individual who tends to “go deep” with others fairly quickly, I have had to guard against inadvertently going deep with an untrustworthy person. Many years ago, when I was a young mom, as well as a small group Bible Study leader, I roomed with an acquaintance at a leader’s retreat. Assuming we would surely make friends as we shared a room for the weekend, I mistakenly shared with her one of my heart concerns. While I don’t know if she chose to tell anyone else what I shared in trust with her, afterwards, I felt judged and condemned by this weekend roommate. I still recall easily how her response made me feel, and needless to say, she and I never became close friends.
You always pass failure on the way to success. Mickey Rooney, American Actor
I learned that I would likely fail at some friendships before I found success in the many delightful, intimate friendships I enjoy today.
In these close friendships, I believe there must be a certain amount of trust, and yes, even honesty. Being honest is an important step in becoming friends. Two of my precious girlfriends I have known since grade school and I had a chance to “while away a summer day” recently. In swimsuits, comfy chairs, and refreshing Lake Blue Ridge as our view, we three went deep, as we so often do. With gentleness, respect, and honesty, we said “I LOVE YOU” to each other by sharing our observed concerns about an aspect of each of our lives. As one of the three of us quipped, we took turns sitting in the “hot seat.” We all three agreed that cheaper than therapy, friends can definitely be a sounding board for each other. If done with love, honesty and kindness can go hand-in-hand.
Being honest with a friend can be a kind gesture, even though the content of this gesture might not always be flattering. While I won’t discuss the subject of what we three opened up about, I will say that initially, I found myself becoming defensive, until I considered these girls cared about me greatly and have loved me for many decades. Therefore, chances were good that what was being candidly discussed was meant to be for our good and not to hurt us. As I remembered their love for me, this served to also remind me that TRUE friendship consists of friends bravely being truthful with each other. I believe that often we humans are afraid to be completely honest. We therefore sometimes wear masks to hide true feelings of insecurity or neediness. We three girlfriends accepted the comments made to each other and were all grateful for each of us having the courage to express concerns transparently and openly.
We are possessive of our innermost thoughts. We don't want just anyone listening in. Rebecca McClanahan, Author of Write Your Heart Out
In the end, there were our usual big hugs and “I love yous” all around as we jumped in the lake to swim the cove and float. I know I gained something very important from our time together, and I believe they did, too. I will not be able to improve if I don’t know what I am doing wrong. AWARENESS is such a big step towards positive change. We must dare to face the difficult-to-hear messages of well-intended criticism.
To earn a friend’s trust and respect, let’s intentionally say what we mean and mean what we say.
In addition, let’s hold our true friends (and especially what they choose to bravely share with us)
with BOTH hands, as well as close to our hearts.