Let your friendships serve as mirrors.  Notice how your friendships reflect back new insights about yourself.  As you pay attention to the way a particular friend makes you think and feel - either positive or negative - and consider why you react that way, you'll come to understand more about yourself.   The more time you spend with your friends, the more they can become like mirrors for you, reflecting what's good and bad about your own attitudes and actions and bringing to light what you may never have seen before.

Allow unexpected friendships to change you.  Sometimes you find yourself drawn to people whom you wouldn't have considered as friends before.  When a friendship surprises you by developing unexpectedly, ask God to use the relationship to help you learn valuable insights and grow into a better person in the process.

Help create a healthy community of friends.  Group friendships can become marred by such issues as jealousy and oversensitivity.  Do your best to make your circles of friends accepting and authentic.  Listen to each other, encourage each other, and make yourselves available to serve each other.  Give each other grace and support.

Deal with space.  Whenever one of your close friendships pulls farther apart, use the space between you and your friend to gain a new perspective on the relationship.

Explore your expectations.  Figure out what qualities you hope your various friendships will have, and clearly communicate those expectations to your friends.  Do you want them to show up for important events in your life, know the right words to make you feel better when you're going through a tough time, or something else?  Let them know.

Befriend yourself.  You have to learn how to be a good friend to yourself before you can truly become a good friend to others.  Don't ask your friends to do something for you that only you can do for yourself, such as discovering your identity and worth or preventing you from feeling lonely.  Give yourself the gift of solitude on a regular basis to pray and think about your life.  Then you'll have more to give to others.

September 12, 2009

Adapted from The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship, copyright 2009 by Sarah Zacharias Davis. Published by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co., www.randomhouse.com/waterbrook.   

Sarah Zacharias Davis is a senior advancement officer at Pepperdine University, having joined the university after working as vice president of marketing and development for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and in strategic marketing for CNN. The daughter of best-selling writer Ravi Zacharias, Davis is the author of the critically-acclaimed Confessions from an Honest Wife and Transparent: Getting Honest about Who We are and Who We Want to Be. She graduated from Covenant College with a degree in education and lives in Los Angeles, California.