Hi, I’m Julia, it’s a pleasure to meet you! I am honoured to be sharing some of my writing here on Tat’s blog. I knew Tat from being at Mountainside Church and meeting her was a very strange and wonderful moment in my life. It had to be God because I don’t see how else it could have happened. We had met briefly in that way that you meet someone just because you’re friends with people who run in the same circles. I was in awe of this girl who was younger than me but had already lived so much more life than most people I knew. I was enamored by her. In the following weeks after we first hung out, she became so incredibly transparent with a lot of things going on in her life. She spoke about things in a way that was so brutally honest, I hadn’t ever experienced this before with someone I felt like I barely knew – and that feeling of ‘barely knowing’ her was extremely short-lived. Tat taught me a lot about how to love women better, how to be a better friend, and how to navigate some bumpy patches with all the grace and love that we can manage at that point in our walks with Jesus.
The summer of 2017 Tat and I bonded over things like being the only 2 girls in the office, boy troubles, her deep love for her brothers and sisters in Peru, and having to pee way more than the boys (who like never had to pee for some reason?). Anyway, through Tat I got to meet some amazing people and experience some incredible things. One of those things was her friendship and friendship in general. When Scott originally brought up the idea of having guest writers I was so intimidated to be grouped in with these INSANELY talented women, and I think that’s when the idea of writing on navigating friendships came to mind.
In her honour, I want to talk a little bit about navigating these friendships into our 20’s and adulthood. Now, I am in no way an expert on this matter, I’m not claiming to have all the answers and there’s so much I have left to learn on just this topic alone. Which is why I also reached out to a few people to get their take on what friendships look like at this stage in our lives. Ultimately, I had to learn how to submit my friendships completely to God and I mean completely. Sometimes that meant I had to submit them in ways that made me feel uncomfortable. That I was living in a space of complete faith and trust in Him, and that God had already won this for me, and I just needed to be patient. Spoiler alert: I’m still working on this.
A mentor and very good friend of mine Laura, told me years ago that “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” (which I believe is originally a Jim Rohn quote). We took to her children’s whiteboard easel one night and listed my top 5 friends, listed one positive and one negative about each person, and she asked me if I was okay with these traits rubbing off on me. It was eye-opening. Check out Proverbs 13:20 as a good biblical reference for this kind of exercise too. I’ve continued to do this exercise over the years, and take it with a grain of salt of course, but it’s been a great tool for accountability.
“Iron sharpens Iron” Proverbs 27:17 is one of the most obvious scriptures we think of when someone mentions friendship, right? A lot of people I talked to mentioned investing in friendships that give as much as they take. Now, this isn’t always going to be equal. I can tell you my friends had to give a lot more to me in the time following August than I was giving back to them. But it’s like a pendulum, and there are times when I’m giving more than I’m getting, and that’s okay. As long as it’s a healthy balance. Another good thing to invest in are the “friends to your future, the ones who inspire you and who call out the best in you (thank you Emily L. for that gem!)”. These are the friends who call you out when you need it, and also speak life over you. They are invaluable.
Time management is another important factor because friendships are going to be harder to maintain when it’s not convenient. “Despite how busy you are you should always find time for those you care for” (from my girl Silar who has been living 1.5 hours away for the past 4 years). 1.5 hours doesn’t seem like much, but when it’s someone special, that distance feels so much worse. But we’ve made it work with short visits, and summers and coffee dates and texting constantly. Not having time is an excuse, and being ‘busy’ has become glorified. Be honest about what you’re capable of up front, and work within those parameters.
I also know that what works for me – an extrovert who could quite literally see my friends every day and still miss them, will not work for my girl Sam who is an introvert and needs her very valuable alone time to recharge. It’s important to respect those boundaries, respect each other, understand that you’re different people with different needs and create a safe dynamic that works for both and/or all people involved. There were a few times I just took Tat aside and had to offer clarity or ask for it on certain things, and every single time she was graceful and it only helped our friendship. It also helps that my love language is words – which is another thing I recommend! Find out your friends love languages (and Enneagram types!). I’m not kidding, it’s actually a lot of fun.
I feel like I could go on and on because friendships are so complicated especially today with social media and that very unhealthy culture of comparison vs reality, and I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface here. But ultimately, we’re called to community (1 John 1:7 & Matthew 18:20), to share each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and to love unconditionally (Proverbs 17:7), which could look very different depending on the situation, but that’s a conversation for another time. My friendship with Tat was in a lot of ways what propelled me to look further in on myself, to reevaluate what I deserved in my life, and if I was giving what others deserved out of a friendship with me. I am only a better friend because of our time together.