Looking back and recollecting some things in my life in hindsight, there are a lot of things I wished I had known. Here are a few:
I would tell my younger self to let go of how I view some of my close friendships. I thought I would always be in close relationship with my friends from home after I moved away. But relationships can develop into something very different, and you can connect on different levels in different seasons. They may not look or stay the same after a period of time. There may come a time you will have to let go of how you view friendships and learn that you didn’t have to be close in distance to still have a relationship.
I would also tell myself some relationships are meant for a season and it doesn’t mean something has happened that brought disconnect or distance between us. There are times life has a way of bringing separation in relationships because of different values or lifestyles. So just remember, as you start to grow up in life, you can grow apart from each other.
Another thing I would tell my younger self is respect, love, honest communication, vulnerability and trust are so valuable amongst friends.
I’m thankful for letting some relationships go and developing others that have strengthened and helped me to grow in my faith to become the person I am today. I have seen how my friendships with these characteristics have been able to celebrate our successes and victories over the years. We have grown up and increased in our faith together, through the good and bad times. When you have the God centered kind of support, it makes you more accountable for how you live your life.
As I am connecting and growing in friendship, I find that purposely reaching out more than you may naturally want to is such an encouragement to others because it makes a person feel like you really care about them and what they are going through. I was so blessed to have people reach out to me and sow into my life in challenging and difficult times. When I needed prayer, encouragement, honest correction, wisdom, and knowledge or just for someone to listen to me, this meant so much. I found it to be more beneficial for me to listen to sound counsel, even when I didn’t want to. There were times they could see something that I missed and needed at the time. I see now that it’s just as important for me to be more intentional to sow and pour back into others so they can be encouraged and grow spiritually, just like what was done for me.
Lastly, as I look back through my life, I remember how boundaries helped to keep me separated from things that would end up being very unpleasant. Sometimes true friends must have uncomfortable conversations about boundaries that can keep the relationship healthy. When I was in Germany, I had a friend where we had to set boundaries with our time for shopping and talking because we were so much a like that we were distracted from doing other things we needed to do! We stayed within our boundaries that we had established, and our friendship remained strong.
From what I have learned through the years, I am more conscious now about how I establish friendships. I desire for my friendships to have strong bonds filled with respect for one another. My heart’s desire in my friendships is to have a godly impact towards each other that draws us all closer to God. We may not always agree but it’s okay to agree to disagree. I treasure relationships because they are important, and I believe God created us to have healthy relationship with Him first and then with others. In hindsight, this is what I would tell my younger self.