In second grade, I met my first best friend, Kimberly. She was the kind of friend I knew I’d be friends with forever because we were practically twins and did just about everything together. Our friendship was easy because it was simple; we shared a liking for simple things—foursquare, jello-cups and fishtail braids. These simple facts bonded together two naive seven year olds. Looking back, it’s foolish to think I couldn’t have been best friends with everyone else in my grade (because who doesn’t enjoy foursquare?!). Unfortunately, as we grow older, simple facts are just that and not everyone we encounter will become our insta-friends, let alone a Kimberly.
Relationships will only continue to come in and out of our lives and as more and more people surround us—whether from our career paths, various friend circles, church communities, etc., we are bound to run into someone who doesn’t necessarily captivate our attention. Though it’s okay not being friends with everyone you exchange names with, it’s not okay to think we can’t learn from those who we find ourselves very different from. Be it their interests, beliefs and even their humor—there is depth in our differences. And it’s definitely not okay to think they don’t deserve love from you (even if it’s a tiny slice of it).
The reason I find it important to address this issue is that, oftentimes, we only want to be friends with people whom we can fully immerse our being in—people who we can benefit from. The friends we love can easily seem like the only people we want to be around, but I want to challenge us to be friends with those we find it harder to be around. I think in a way, we are supposed to. Loving others knows no preferences, and loving others (even if it’s in a different way than you do towards your BFFs) extends our character and truly makes our hearts more full. We can’t be tied to the hip with everyone, but we should at the very least, be friendly.
Here are some thoughts that might help this at times challenging endeavor…
Realize you can’t satisfy everyone, but know that you can give respect in moments by asking, “how are you,” by giving a warm smile or saying a simple, “hello.”
Remember the love that has been given to you—because though others may be hard to love, you can be too. We need to extend our love in ways we best know how, because of the love that has been extended towards us.
Remove your own agenda when it comes to kindness. Our motivation of being loving towards others should be rooted in our desire to position others towards betterment, as oppose to making ourselves feel better.
I suppose I could have just summed up this article with the golden rule, “Treat others the way you’d want to be treated,” but I would also like to add, there is a delightful light in everyone. Sometimes you will be the one to draw that out fully, and sometimes you are not the one equipped to. But rest in the fact that an attitude of love spurs other attitudes towards love. And that’s the stuff that makes friends into best friends.
Image via Modern Hepburn