This area of your life has been on my heart for months but I wasn’t sure where to begin.
Then you went sledding a couple weeks ago, had a great time, until one of your friends did something you didn’t like and….you bit her. Hard.
Perhaps we start there.
Obviously we need to keep our hands (and our teeth) to ourselves. But that’s probably not enough if we think about it. We can hurt ourselves and others with a lot more and unfortunately – biting your friend won’t be the last time someone cries because of what you’ve done.
I’m proud of how willing you are to say you are sorry and your handwritten cards are priceless. They come straight from your heart. There is no better offering. But this is only the beginning my dear.
As you grow there are a few more things I want you to know:
- When a friendship ends, it genuinely hurts – regardless of who’s “fault” it is. So, I encourage you to spend less time blaming yourself or the other person. Feel the pain and let it teach you what you need to learn.
- Sometimes the most meaningful moments in your life can be shared with strangers who become unexpected connections. I remember meeting the nicest woman on a plane almost twenty years ago. We wrote post cards for five years. I still wonder how she is doing.
- Friendship is never “on-command” – it’s a gift. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend (or doesn’t accept your offering) do your best to accept these decisions with kindness. There are other people out there in this world who would love to spend time with you. Find them.
- If you hurt someone’s feelings try and apologize, in person, as soon as you can. If they aren’t open to your expression – do your best to move on and wish them well in the process. You did the best you could to take responsibility for your behavior.
- It’s natural to want friendships to stay a certain way forever. Like spending time together every single Sunday afternoon until the end of time. But life will ask us to grow in different ways. Eventually we may have to spend our Sunday afternoons alone and you will need to find a way to enjoy those hours all the same.
- Unfortunately you will behave badly again, even when you are all grown up, and some friends will walk away or stop answering your calls as a consequence of your choices. This is pretty hard to get through, but we have to accept and respect those decisions. Even if it hurts so bad you can’t breathe.
- Unfortunately our friends my hurt us too and out of respect for our own hearts – we have to make a hard call of distancing – loving them with different boundaries than before. This is also painful. You’ll want to still call, make a memory, laugh with them and pretend nothing ever changed. But things did change and we don’t want to get hurt again.
- Healthy boundaries equals healthy friendships. I learned this lesson the hard way and will do my best to teach you different.
- If you live in different places, like I have, you will meet amazing people. But then you may have to say goodbye because your new home will be far away. It’s normal to believe you’ll stay in touch. (And you might for a while.) But your new life will require time, attention and adapting. The miles between will start to make their mark and those that live far away start to live more in your heart and memories. Trust that your true friends know distance may change the shape of your connection but it can never take away the bond. Ask my friend Patria. She and I have been friends for almost forty years.
- I know social media is out there but I’m really worried about it. Studies are confirming what scares me the most. I want you to experience good old-fashioned interactions for as long as you are able. When you are with your friends – keep the tablets and phones turned off because you are too busy having fun: live and in-color.
- Become a true friend to yourself – as well others. This means learning how to forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ll make. It might be easier to forgive others, let them off the hook, make up and be happy again. But you have to extend the same generosity and grace to yourself. This is essential.
- If you are with a group and you see someone left out – invite them into your circle. Be the one who shows acceptance, inclusion and value.
- Do your best to learn from whatever hurts experienced with others. Pain is a teacher.
- Apologize when/where you can – in person, or as directly as possible, and above all: choose love.
- Always choose Love.
“I know about friendship, mama, it means: caring, sharing, being nice, and being kind to people who are in Africa or in the North Pole (some people live in igloos). You also can’t bite people at school, or on a giant hill, and you have to be nice to animals too.” (Sedona-Grace Age 5)