If I asked you to describe good friends, I bet the answer your picture would paint would look a lot like mine. The canvas would fill with kindness and caring. We would see laughter and loyalty. There would be space for trust and room for adventure. Our hearts would add fun and maybe a bit of silliness so we would long to come back for more and gaze with appreciation and a smile. And I believe as we put down our brushes we would see that right in the center of our masterpiece beats a heart that longs to know our own beating heart. If we find even one friend who matches our portrait, we have found treasure.
Maybe a more difficult question to answer is what makes you a good friend. How would others respond? What would their portrait of you look like? Because friendship flows in two directions and finding a friend involves being a friend in return, it may be time to pick up our brushes and paint self-portraits.
If you ask me if I have friends, or if I am a friend to others, on most days I would tell you yes. On other days, days I’m feeling overwhelmed or lonely, I might still say yes, but deep down I’m probably wondering if it’s true. Life’s difficult days have a way of eroding our most solid feelings and convictions. And sometimes life can make us feel like we are alone when we are not. But it’s in times like these, these times when our heart feels more empty than full, more needy than generous, that we need to remind ourselves of the pictures we painted of ourselves and others.
My Friend Said This to Me, and It Stopped Me In My Tracks
My closest, life-long friends live 1,500 miles away. Somehow the distance and the two decades of living apart haven’t weakened our connection. As close as we are, I don’t know if we would be friends if we met today. I think our adult lives are too varied, our interests too diverse. Even so, our young selves bonded immediately and time mysteriously wove our souls together.
New seasons of life have a way of testing bonds of friendship. Thankfully, our friendship served as a safe place that withstood all of life’s storms. We met as students, grew through young adulthood, celebrated weddings and births of children, mourned the loss of parents, and shed tears when kids moved off to college. Now when I visit, we reminisce more than dream, but I think that’s what happens when you’ve been together through it all.
Lately, the word friend has been one of those words that sits in the back of my mind like a mystery waiting to be solved. I go about my days and every once in a while, I see it. It’s just there waiting for me to get curious enough to take a deep and meaningful look. I think it’s longing for my curiosity to outwit my busyness. The other day a phone call from a good friend tipped the scales in curiosity’s favor.
I hadn’t spoken to this friend in a while, but she was aware of some new things I was doing in my life and decided to call me. She said that she heard that I had taken a trip. And then she said five words that made me realize why she is such a good friend. She simply said, “Tell me all about it.” And underneath the surface of those words I could also hear, “I want to know everything,” and, “I have time for you,” and, “You really matter to me.”
In a world that moves fast and where information comes and goes with swift swipes and rapid-fire clicks, hearing someone say out loud, “Tell me all about it” can throw your balance off for a minute. It can feel like walking on a people mover in the airport, the ones that allow each step to cover the distance of three, and then stepping onto stationary ground. The sudden shift in speed can be jarring. That’s how I felt. My inner voice was skeptical. I remember thinking, “Really? You want to listen to me? Are you sure you have time for this?” But even though I felt like I was taking too much of her time, I started in with my story and she stayed with me. She truly wanted to hear all about it and eventually my skepticism gave way to trust.
How This Sentiment Can Change a Relationship Into a Friendship
How important is it to remind ourselves that healthy conversations between friends happens at a slower pace and that they unfold naturally when a real friend says, “Tell me all about it” and then they listen.
The meals we eat aren’t the only thing in life that are supposed to be nourishing. That conversation and those five words reminded me that friendships should be too. And I hope I never forget how those words filled all my empty spaces, nourished my soul, and strengthened me for the ups and downs of life.
It’s interesting that the Bible uses the word friend to describe Jesus and his relationship to us. I have considered Jesus as savior and king, healer and lamb, teacher and son of God, but I don’t often think of him as a friend. But I should—we should—and here’s why: John 15:15 quotes Jesus as saying, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
Sometimes when I read Scripture verses I find I have more questions than answers. After reading this verse, I wanted to ask, “Why do you call us friends?” What is it about our relationship that qualifies it as a friendship?”
Here is where I find our relationship with God so overwhelmingly beautiful. Jesus explained that we are friends because he shares with us the things that God shares with him. It’s as if he was not only telling the disciples how he thought of them, but also showing them what makes people friends. And it’s as if I hear him now, answering my question by showing me that the proof of friendship is in the sharing. It’s in the wanting to know all about it and trusting that your friends really want to know all about you too.
It’s as if those five words have the ability to transform relationships into friendships: “Tell me all about it.” They transformed the disciples’ relationship with Jesus from a servant and teacher relationship into a friend relationship. Those words had the ability to fill empty places in my heart and see the treasure I have in my friend. And if they have the power to do all that, then they are certainly five words all good friends should know how to say. May we be and may we find “tell me all about it” friends.
For more friendship advice, check out:
Learning to Listen to Those You Love, When You Need it Most
9 Qualities You Need in a Good Friend
People Are Becoming Increasingly Lonely: Here’s How to Fight It
Why You Want to Be a Bucket-Filler Kind of Friend
5 Tips for Mending Fences in Your Relationships
How to Use The 5 Love Languages for Strong Friendships
What Avengers: EndGame Taught Me About Female Friendship
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