In the normal rhythms of my day, I meet many women. I have at least one thing in common with most of them. If we meet at work, we share a professional background. Meeting at church means we have faith in common. Playground friendships grow from the mutuality of motherhood. In all the meeting and greeting, how does one go from acquaintance to best friend?
I recently experienced this transition from casual meet-up to a cherished friendship. Things progressed smoothly, so I stayed tuned into the process, trying to pinpoint the nuances of relationship building.
First, the “Hello, Who Are You?” stage. When I meet someone new, I engage in small talk. I repeat their name over and over in my head so as not to forget it (although I usually have to ask them again the next time I see them). In this earliest stage, I look for a point of connection–a shared interest or common experience.
I must admit, I sometimes stall on this one, preferring to sit quietly and observe instead. I can make it through my daughter’s entire tennis match without talking to another parent. My introverted self is perfectly content in the quiet. However, building relationships is worth the bravery it takes for me to step outside of my comfort zone and initiate conversation.Building relationships is worth the bravery it takes for me to step outside of my comfort zone.Click To Tweet
My new friend and I had our kids in common. We arranged a few play dates at the park and then at our homes. While we had fun watching our kids play, the hidden treasure became our conversation. Over time, we discovered more in common than just our kids.
The friendship building shifted into overdrive when my husband and I ran into a snag with a bathroom remodel. Emergencies tend to push the accelerator on intimacy. Her husband knew what to do, so they came over to help. Unwashed dishes sat in the sink. Toys littered the floor.
She entered into my mess and didn’t gasp in horror. I apologized for the state of my house, and she graciously offered, “my house, too, friend.” Isn’t that what we are all looking for in a friend, someone to say “me, too” when all of our crazy hangs out?
One More Question
The next time we met for coffee, we got through the pleasantries a little quicker. After we finished the usual dialogue around our normal joys and frustrations, she sent out a little piece of her heart like a test balloon–a passion for serving others that she keeps locked away for “one day.”
At that moment, I had a choice. I could smile and say, “That’s nice.” Or I could ask one more question, “What do you hope this dream becomes one day?” Somehow I knew this was a pivotal moment in our friendship. She invited me in. Would I accept?
With a fluttering butterfly in my stomach, I decided to ask for more. The spark in her eye grew the more she talked, and before I knew it, I caught fire, too. We began to share those big dreams that hide quietly behind our mom-facade. The dam broke. We gushed on and on about that thing we’ve been dying to talk about. Our words finally found the perfect listener.
Since then, we entered into a ministry project together. We continue to feed off the “me, too’s” and the “you can do it” from each other. A partner to walk arm-in-arm with makes the uphill climb toward a dream seem possible. This. This is what friendship feels like.A partner to walk arm-in-arm with makes the uphill climb toward a dream seem possible.Click To Tweet
Not all relationships grow this easily. Sometimes we have to go through the cycle of try, trip, and try again before we find the right fit. With bravery, however, we can advance from being a casual acquaintance to a kindred spirit.
Be brave enough to ask for a name–twice if it takes it. Invite a friend into your mess. Search until you find something in common. And when you see a spark in your friend’s eye, fan it until it becomes a full-blown fire. Then you can both find warmth in the flames of friendship.