One thing we are often asked is, “How do you make this friendship work?!”
It is a miracle! We are extraordinarily different, and not just in terms of race. We are different in the way we work, our political perspectives, how we like to vacation, shop or even have dinner.
It would be easy for us to get offended by the other.
But we’ve made a choice.
Instead of focusing on our differences, which will inevitably lead to frustration, we choose to start from what we have in common.
This is our choice, and it has transformed how we understand what it means to be a friend.
CS. Lewis is one of our inspirations for real and lasting friendship.
One of his most popular quotes (and one of our favorites) comes from his book, The Four Loves.
“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”
You know this moment, right? It’s happened more than once throughout your life.
You’re with a group of people and wind up talking with someone you don’t know well or at all. Maybe you both order your water at room temperature or discover a shared passion for cooking foods from around the world. Maybe neither of you want to be wherever it is you are.
At this moment—your “me too” moment—you connect.
This kind of common ground can be the birthplace of friendship.
We really enjoy telling people our story of friendship because it was anything but that at first.
When Lamar and I started to date, Kisha and I had to spend time together. Her husband and Lamar are best friends. This was our common ground.
When we’d get together, we hugged, smiled and made small talk like we liked each other. We looked like friends and even acted the part, but looks can be deceiving.
The truth was, Kisha didn’t like me at all! I was interested in the finer things in life (alright… I was bougie) and a little too “know it all” for her taste. And Kisha—she totally intimidated me. I was sure she put the boss in #bosslady, not to mention the fact that she was a vault. She didn’t share much of her personal life with anyone for good reason. She’d let people in before, and they hurt her. Being a vault protected her from more injury. But it also kept her from healing.
The true “me too” moment that birthed our friendship came two years after I married Lamar.
Kisha and I had been spending a lot of time together. By this time, we respected each other, especially as women of faith.
In a moment of vulnerability borne out of frustration with our husbands, we decided to meet before church and pray. Our prayer was simple: God, change them! Make them what we need them to be.
As we poured out our hearts and tears in prayer, God did the miraculous. He didn't change them, He changed us. The moment we finished praying, we knew the answer we needed wasn’t to be found in marriage but in friendship with each other.
Our prayer time ended with Kisha looking at me through tears and laughter, saying, “Darlin’, this has to be God, ‘cause you are not what I expected!”
We learned something powerful that day.
Common ground creates connection. But to really build friendship well, you need more than common ground. You need a shared direction.
There are six commitments that all good and growing friendships have in common. These six help to keep you connected and moving in the same direction. They’re the heart of what it takes to do life together.
When you live by these six commitments, you set yourself up for deep and meaningful connections. You’ll also come face to face with disappointment because doing life together means choosing to walk with some people and not with others. Lewis talks about it as walking closely with those who care deeply about the same things, especially the same truth.
When we chose to pray through our frustration, we made the first decision to choose the same truth. We chose prayer as our way of dealing with frustration.
More decisions followed.
We chose to see color and beauty in our diversity. We chose to listen and to learn from each other. We chose to embrace our unique gifts and abilities. We chose to try new music and new foods. We chose to honor another strong, intelligent and capable woman. Most of all, we chose to do life together, moving intentionally toward growth in faith and friendship.
The secret to being a better friend isn’t a secret at all. Better friends make better choices. They choose to nurture these six commitments.
Take a minute to think about your friendships.
Then ask yourself two questions: How well am I doing life together with others? What one commitment can I develop in to be a better friend?
When you put these questions and commitments to work in your life, you’ll start to move in the direction of being a better friend. It’s a process, so give yourself grace along the way. And remember to give grace to others too.
Keep choosing well and you’ll build friendships well.