Q & A
What keeps you bonded as friends through the years?
Stacy Brown: One of the things that keeps you bonded in friendships through the decades is familiarity. It is so cool—and sometimes comforting—when someone just knows and gets your story. I have one friend whom I don’t see often, but she knows my family, she knows my history and struggle through the years and she’s a go-to when things are really tough. She knows enough to listen and pick up wherever you were last. It’s great to have at least one friend who knows your secrets and you know hers. I think an important part of this type of friend is loyalty and confidentiality—on both parts.
Marilyn Jordan: I’ve had many dear friends over the years, and have unfortunately lost track of far too many. I often think of them and wonder what they are doing, where life has taken them, are they still alive?! Life has taken us in different directions, and the wear of time and distance have taken their toll.
But as with two very dear college friends and with the other friends I have stayed close with, the thing that has kept us connected is our relationship with Jesus—He is the glue that keeps us together. For Jesus doesn’t fade over time and He’s never far away. He’s the common link that we can share for a lifetime.
Being “sisters” in life is one thing, but being “sisters in Christ” is everything. It’s that bond that keeps us close, keeps us united and keeps us lifelong friends.
How have you noticed your friendships evolve over the years as priorities have shifted and lives have become busier?
SB: I think some friends are for a season, such as a friend from your kid’s school or church or from a certain group you are in. It’s important to remember every friend doesn’t have to be your confidant. This can be exhausting thinking you have to tell every friend everything. Be a friend who is understanding of family priorities, and surround yourself with friends who are understanding to you. Be careful not to be a flakey friend who uses kids, etc., as excuses for bailing, and don’t waste your time with a friend who is like that.
MJ: Friendships definitely evolve over time—some mature and grow closer, and some drift apart. Staying in close physical proximity certainly helps as your kids then become friends too, which helps to keep you connected.
But true friendships are of the heart. So for my friends no longer nearby or those I don’t see as often due to the busyness of life, I try to call or send a special note when God brings them to my memory. I definitely pray for them and love to think back with fond memories of the times when we were together. I don’t want to ever forget them and always look forward to the day I will see them again.
How do you make time for and nurture friendships in the business of working, being a wife, a mom?
SB: It’s important to schedule friend time. This can be as easy as a quick phone call check-in, to scheduling lunch or dinner or something fun once a month. I found when my kids were younger, it was easy to get together around kid stuff, and some of my closest friends are the ones I made in my kids’ elementary school years.
MJ: As a working wife and mom, I’ve always led a very busy life. Friendships take time—something I didn’t have a lot of over the years. I didn’t really realize it until writing this story, but as I look back over the years, the friendships I have kept are the ones in which we shared Christ.
But taking the time is key. It comes down to keeping your friend and your friendship a priority, even if that means simply calling every week or two to check in and catch up, or writing a quick note to let them know you’re thinking of them. Life will always be busy, so keeping your friends close is your responsibility.
What would you say is your greatest quality as a friend? Conversely, what is the most cherished quality a friend can offer you?
SB: I think my best quality as a friend and the one I look for the most is loyalty. I have one close friend who, whether I am right or wrong in a situation and I say, “You need to back me on this one,” I know she’ll say, “OK, I’m with you.” And I have done the same for her. Sometimes we have both been dead wrong, but it’s just the attitude of “I am here and I back you.” Also I appreciate someone who loves my kids and family—this is an important one. A friend to me joins me in my happiness when my kids are doing great and is also right there supporting me and crying with me when they struggle. I know their struggles are safe with my friends.
MJ: Encouragement, support and grace—these are the most cherished qualities of a friend to me. A friend is with you in the good times and the bad, and stands with you through the hardest trials of life. A friend grieves with you, laughs with you, rejoices with you, encourages you—and admonishes you when needed. A friend lets you “vent,” scream and cry without judgment. A friend gives you grace to fall down and then helps you back up.
What advice would you offer to someone who’s struggling to maintain long-term friendships?
SB: I would tell them to ask themselves, “What kind of friend am I? Am I putting an unrealistic expectation on this person? Am I looking for friends who are compatible for where I am in life?” For example, if you have young kids and your closest friends don’t, this friendship will be a struggle. People going through the same stages of life as you make friendships that are easier to maintain. Don’t be petty, don’t hold offenses, don’t gossip!
MJ: Pray about it. Ask God why you are struggling in this area. Ask Him why you don’t have close “sisters” with whom to share your deepest heart cries. It could be that your focus is too much on yourself and your own needs.
I’ve learned over the years that when I’m dealing with a difficult, all-consuming issue that the best thing to do is to get my eyes off my own circumstance and reach out to help others in need. Long-term friendships work very much in the same way. When we reach out to put others before ourselves, God has this amazing way of meeting our own need, whether that be resolution of a “crisis” or starting a relationship that turns into a lifelong friendship.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Stacy Brown has been married 28 years and has four children, ages 19-27. One is married for five years, one married in January and two are in college. She’s a business owner and entrepreneur. “I believe friendship is one of the best gifts you can receive and have some that go back 25-plus years,” she says. “Especially in this ever-changing season of life, friends are even more important!”
Marilyn Jordan has walked with the Lord for nearly 40 years and has been a member of The Father’s House for over ten. Married to her husband, Larry, for nearly 39 years, they have two grown sons, one of whom lives in Vista, Calif., with his wife and attends The Father’s House. Marilyn is a strong promoter of daily journaling and meditation on God’s Word. “Heaven is never far from those who will linger on a mountain with their Lord” Luke 9:32. Every life that desires to be strong must have its “Most Holy place” (Exodus 26:33) into which only God enters.