Just this past Sunday I had the opportunity to share in women’s session as the guest speaker. It has been a while since I did any kind of speaking engagements but I graciously accepted and prepared. I didn’t know what to expect but as I gathered my notes and thoughts I kept asking God to give me clarity on where I should take the discussion. As always, He came through.
The topic for the session was” Planting the Seeds of Sisterhood”. When I first heard it, I chuckled. My initial thought was, “Wow God, You must really want me to embarrass myself.” I’m out here trying to learn how to build valuable relationships too. How am I to stand in front of these women and speak on what I’m still educating myself on? Prepare I did though ’cause sometimes God uses the student to teach the masses. Don’t underestimate your ability. Anyway, Sunday’s message and discussion greatly influenced today’s post. And truthfully, it ties everything together as a follow up to last week’s post This Is For…The Girl Next Door.
I think we can all agree with the fact that preconceived notions can get in the way of building friendships. There are ins and outs to building friendships from the ground up so here are 4 of my thoughts I shared with the ladies which may be useful to you as well.
Meet CAVV everyone!
C – Communication
A – Authenticity
V – Vulnerability
V – Validation
Communication is a cornerstone in relationship building. If communication is unclear then the person you’re trying to communicate with will be lost and vice versa. Speak a language the person understands. While prepping for the session, I built my “talk” on the Parable of the Sower – Matthew’s account. Without giving you a sermon, 🙃one of the things that stood out to me while reading the passage this time around was the disciples questioning Jesus on why He spoke to the masses in parables.
As I examined and questioned the passage, it just dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, the disciples thought it was a bit childish for Jesus to be speaking ABCs when they were onto algebra. Can you imagine if Jesus spoke to those gathered using algebraic terms? Whew! There would’ve been confusion among the brethren.
Jesus then went on to explain to the disciples that the access, wisdom, and knowledge they had, the masses hadn’t yet received. His response underscores this fact – people will more than likely be on different frequencies when you first meet them. Get to know who they are and how they communicate. That way you can make an informed decision on whether you want to learn the language they speak and pursue a friendship or not. I’m not saying you’ll befriend every single person on the face of the planet but there are at least a few you can start with.
Now indulge me for another minute. If Jesus ( who knew then, knows now, and will ever know) knew the importance of communicating in a way that his listeners understood isn’t that an indication that we too should understand the importance of communication? That we too should understand the importance of not making empty assumptions soley based on first impressions. Sometimes folk won’t catch it immediately. If your language is food and theirs is art it’s okay to learn what sets their soul aflame and vice versa. Sometimes we become too “me” heavy and leave little room for engagement from the other party. Ask questions and seek clarity if you don’t understand. Seek to understand instead of always pushing to be understood. Your point of view is just that, yours. But the folks around you may have other points of view, wouldn’t you care to engage and discover?
Secondly, be honest with your communication. A lot of times we are experiencing troubles with friendships because of an unmet, uncommunicated expectation. There is an expectation that someone just needs to get “me” when we don’t even know ourselves. No one is a mind reader, open your mouth and respectfully speak up. If you have a different opinion, graciously share it and allow healthy discussion.
Authenticity is self-explanatory, right? No? Okay. I thought it would be since we are all so good at being “true” to ourselves. Many of us are true to the masks we wear not our authentic selves. Day in and out some of us work so hard to maintain the face we want others to see, but truthfully, we fight battles with loving who we are. This then leaks into our relationships and can manifest itself in numerous ways.
During the women’s session, we had a discussion about value. We talked a bit about how persons perceive and attribute value to others and how this affects who they do and don’t get to know. If one perceives and attributes little value to someone based on their idea of who that person is, they may never get to know the person for real. Simply based on incorrect preconceived notions. Similarly, if one perceives and attributes much value to someone based on an idea they have, one or two things can happen. 1, they may engage them because they want what the person has and/or 2, they may still not get to know them because they don’t think highly enough of themselves.
Due to a skewed personal perspective, sometimes we don’t believe other people want to be around the “real” us so we try to keep up appearances. But do you know, that once you start to put the masks on, you have to maintain that lifestyle and keep track of which masks you wear around which people? And I’ll tell you – it’s exhausting.
“Be true to you. Consistently remember your core values and always aspire to grow. Never become too comfortable with the “this is just how I am” mentality.”Shaquille Millar
If we’re honest in this “authenticity” conversation ( honesty is a major part of authenticity), we know that there are attitudes, perspectives, and mindsets that need uprooting from our lives. Good, solid friendships promote pruning and growth. Relationships require authentic interaction, authentic engagement, and our authentic selves. This is why we ought to be real with ourselves if we desire to build valuable friendships. Quit playing hide and seek.
Vulnerability. Here comes the V-word that makes everyone squirm. Yikes! You ultimately get to decide who you will bear all with. Not every friendship will be Type- BA (bear all). But hopefully, there’s someone like this in your corner. Someone you can offload with when needed, someone you can also be the listener for when the time comes for them to do the offloading.
Truth is, the friends who know us best, have a knack for getting into the gutter most parts of our lives and sticking it out during tough times. The reason they got there is because of their persistence but also because of our vulnerability. Because of our choice to trust them with the good and bad. Many of us don’t experience the beauty that is sisterhood friendship because we don’t trust easily or at all. What is friendship without trust? What is trust without “us”? – trt. In other words, nothing. If one trusts and the other doesn’t you will always meet tension in the middle.
Each of us has walked various paths and I’d hope learned what was being taught on the rocky paths. There is no shame in bearing all with the right people. To build valuable relationships you will have to let some folks in beyond your guard walls. We’ve all got a story, not everyone will understand you but the ones who do, will make the effort to dig deeper, please allow them when the time comes. Allow yourself to be loved by a friend that genuinely cares and be that friend to someone too.
Validation. Now, this point was a bit ticklish during the discussion simply because we all want validation in relationships. We want to know that we’re a bag of chips and that we rock and that’s okay. I personally believe we should always praise someone else when they’re doing an amazing job and equally talk with them when things seem a bit out of whack. There’s a place both in friendships.
If, however, all you do or don’t do, say or don’t say is hinged on what other people will think or say; you’re liable to lose sight yourself in the process.
My two cents on validation is this, find your validation in Christ. It’s through Him that we better understand who we are and how we are to love others. It is through Him that our perspectives are challenged and changed for the better and thus influences the way we see others and how we build friendships.
If we solely seek validation from people who are daily trying to figure out their own lives we may end up starving ourselves from the truth. It’ll be like receiving crumbs – bits and pieces of likes and dislikes from the different tables you sit at, none of which can make a complete meal. When you arrive to the table, arrive in confidence knowing who you are, to whom you belong and what value you add to the table. Find your wholeness in God period.
Above all, I hope these nuggets help someone on their way. The more healthy friendships we have, the more good seed there is to sow. The more good seed sown, the more fruit there is to harvest in due season.
Best wishes for the journey ahead.