A few weeks ago, I met a friend for lunch. I sat down and she said, “I’m not doing well . . .” She proceeded to tell me what was going on in her life. I loved her honesty. She knew it was okay to not be okay with me.
A few months back another friend did the same. We planned to attend her son’s birthday party, but the day of, my son was tired and was being Such. A. Grouch. So much so that he didn’t want to go the party, so we decided to forgo it because of his behavior. I texted my friend and apologized that we wouldn’t make it after all.
She immediately called me back, crying. She asked if we could please come, as not many children had been able to make it and her son was disappointed. She said her mother-in-law had died the day before and everyone was feeling tender and vulnerable.
I assured her that yes, we’d be there. I explained to William that we needed to be there for our friends, so we all shook off our bad moods, jumped in the car and spent a great afternoon with our friends who needed us.
This week I dared myself to imitate these two friends, to be honest and brave when I’m not okay.
Isn’t it easier to put on a smile and just pretend we’re fine—even when we’re not? Honesty is bravery in action.
So this week out at dinner with a group of my girlfriends, I was honest about the hard in my life, about the things weighing heavy on my heart. The tears came out and I didn’t cry alone. It was a beautiful moment, one I would have missed out on had I not been honest about not being okay.
So, all this to say, let’s do all of this more often. Let’s be friends who listen and show up for our friends when they’re not okay. And let’s be friends who are honest when we’re not okay. That’s what true friendship is all about.
Here are a few practical ideas of how we can show up when our friends are struggling:
- Send an encouraging text and repeat regularly
- Schedule a lunch date and listen
- Drop by with her favorite fancy coffee drink
- Double your dinner recipe and bring over dinner one evening
- Buy a little gift to let her know you’re thinking of her
I have quite a few dear friends who live far away. You can tweak most of these ideas to reach out to your long-distance friends who need encouragement. Recently a friend of mine sent me a $10 Starbucks gift card via e-mail when she knew I could use a chai latte. (Thanks, Tiff!)