Fostering Authentic Friendships
By: Kayla Faherty
Most of my closest friendships were not born in elementary school, high school, or even college. It’s not that I didn’t have friends during those times in my life; on the contrary, I seemed to make friends easily. But those friendships were surface-level and as a result we grew apart and the relationships did not stand the test of time. Truly, it wasn’t until I had matured and learned that loving others often involves a level of vulnerability that I was able to form true friendships with women I deeply care about. And these relationships are ever-evolving, becoming more authentic as each of us becomes closer to the women we would like to be.
These women celebrated with me on my wedding day, congratulated me on my first full-time teaching job, celebrated the births of our two daughters, and anticipated our move “back home”, along with many other joyous occasions. But one thing these friendships have in common is that they have all endured some test or another. Whether they stuck by me through the aftermath of my father’s suicide, were faithful confidants during times of turbulence in my family, stepped up during our move out-of-state, brought dinner, sent flowers, asked how I was feeling, and prayed for me while we miscarried, and so many other trials that could have just as easily led us apart rather than closer together. One of my closest friends, the only one I have from my time at college, is the one who stood by me during my darkest time. She weathered the storm with me, and our relationship has since endured all sorts of weather. And there are other women who have entered my life just recently, and we are in the process of developing friendships that will hopefully stand for years to come. For the faithfulness of each of these women, I am so very thankful.
“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure.
A wise sage, Ben Sira shares inspiration on true friendship: “Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure. Faithful friends are beyond price, no amount can balance their worth. Faithful friends are life-saving medicine; those who fear God will find them. Those who fear the Lord enjoy stable friendship, for as they are, so will their neighbors be.” (Sirach 6:14-17) True friends are not found when all is roses, but rather it is through the storms of life that we prove ourselves faithful. Such friends are truly a gift from God. When we discover a true friend, instead of taking them for granted, we could instead accept them in gratitude.
Fostering authentic friendships proves to be a labor of love as we get older. Other priorities take center stage. We have our relationships with God, our husband, our children, and our families, let alone work, school, hobbies and all the other activities that require our time and energy. It can be difficult to maintain relationships. But when we take a step back and look at the bigger picture we can develop a new perspective, an eternal perspective. Recognizing the value genuine friendships have in your life will move you to take action. Setting aside a few minutes to check in on that friend who is having a rough time, or schedule a chat over coffee, or get your families together for dinner, or writing a letter to let her know that she is in your prayers can do much good for the Kingdom of God.
As friends, we can let our lights shine brightly. We can be the positive influence. We can encourage each other to become the best version of ourselves. We can share the love of God and draw each other closer to Him. We can be faithful friends, who are loyal no matter what. We can be companions on this journey, friends you can share your honest self with. A friend who knows who you are and loves you still, now that is the kind of friend I want and want to be.