“You know that girl I was telling you about? We were in the bathroom for a while chatting about stuff. You know, the stuff nobody really tells each other. We cried. It was great!” My daughter said.
I smiled. I know she’s on a new friendship adventure—one that will be touched with giggles, joy, perhaps some pain, maybe some disappointment, and hopefully personal growth.
I’m thankful she has this new friend at school. She’s been cautious. She’s slow to trust. And in the words of Anne of Green Gables, all she really desires is “A bosom friend, a really Kindred Spirit.”
When I relayed the above to my husband, he didn’t skip a beat. “I hope this friend can be trusted.” He’s a cautious one too. A private dude. He has one best friend. He’s also protective of his girls. A tender dude. He rarely understands the girl drama, but he cares. He hurts when they hurt.
I have another daughter who has a new best friend on a regular basis. Oh, she doesn’t necessarily abandon the old best friends, she loves them all. She is happiest when everyone loves her. She can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t love her. The more friends the better. She trusts easily, too easily. And her heart gets broken sometimes.
Then my husband and I both hurt because she hurts. So we talk about friendship with her and ask questions. “What do you think makes a good friend? What did you learn from this friendship? What can you do differently next time?” And
“What makes a friend trustworthy?”
Webster defines trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something” or “one in which confidence is placed.”
It defines friend as “one attached to another by affection or esteem,” or “a favored companion.”
I think my definition of a trustworthy friend has been a little more complicated at times. In my younger years, a trusted friend was someone who I could be completely comfortable with, completely myself with, share my secrets with, and never worry that she was going to hurt or disappoint me in any way.
*Please note the emphasis on what she does for me—on her being perfect.
*Please do not note the lack of emphasis on me. I thought I was, well, the perfect friend.
Pssp . . . listen closely. I got a free pass. She needed to get it right or I’d take my toys and go home. You hurt me. I’m done!
Ah, the passage of time, the giggles, joy, pain, disappointment, and personal growth that has stretched my thinking. The humility of accepting that I hurt others, even if I didn’t intend to, has softened my heart. The grace that I’ve received when I’ve asked for forgiveness has soothed my soul. I am free to focus more on what I bring to a friendship rather than what I expect in a friend. I don’t like the hurt and disappointment that comes with human friendship (I think this is why some people prefer dogs.), but I do expect it. And that paradigm shift in my thinking has made me a better friend.
Years teach the teachable. So I pray my girls become teachable, that with each friendship, they learn—something about friendship—something about themselves. I want them to learn how to trust without demanding perfection. Understand how to give grace. Receive grace. But also know when it’s time to go home. Because sadly, there are some people who are not trustworthy.
My husband and I will still hurt when our girls hurt. We’ll talk with them about friendship and continue to ask questions.
What does a trustworthy friendship look like?
How do you give grace, receive grace, yet know when it’s time to go home?
Pssp . . . comments are welcomed and replied to. But I can't promise answers. I'm a friend in training. :)
Trust is a hot button for survivors, as it should be—a sacred trust was broken. But that doesn’t mean that survivors have to live without trust—without friends. My survivor friends will tell you, it hasn’t been easy. The years teach the teachable. And learning to trust has been worth the risk.