Jackie and I have been friends for a long time; we have also been through a lot together. I realised however, that even though Jackie came to me with literally every problem she had, whenever I started talking about myself, she either changed the topic or wanted to leave. She did not do this to hurt me, it did not even seem like she was aware of what she did. She was simply a very poor listener and although she needed a listening ear more times than not, she did not know how to give a listening ear.
Dorcas on the other hand is all ears. She will ‘hear’ even the pain I feel without me having to explicitly express it.
When she shares her problems, needs or experiences, I listen just the way she does for me and we both know that when we need a listening ear, we can count on each other to be there.
I discovered a simple fact a few years ago that literally set me free as far as friendships go. For a woman, friendships are just like her shoes. Ever wondered why women need so many pairs? Well, different shoes serve different purposes.
So it is with friends. Different friends meet different needs. Since I discovered this, I appreciate both Jackie and Dorcas as good friends.
A woman needs many friends - she needs some to cry with, some to provide a listening ear, friends to help and others to be helped by, others to go shopping with and yet others to have serious discussions with to sharpen her.
Others are just simply acquaintances, who you meet on any odd day and talk about anything and everything, from curtains and carpets.
Friendships and shoes have a striking similarity. Take for example the good old, faithful black pumps.
You will always need them to go anywhere with anything. Then, there’s that dainty silver or gold sandal to wear to weddings or evening parties. And for comfort, the loafers, scholls or moccasin will do just fine.
Shoes personalise your style and when buying or choosing shoes to wear, you need to think of appropriateness of event, how comfortable they are, and how well the shoes match your clothes. That goes for friendships too.
Remember the following basics when you go shoe shopping next and follow them and they will give you a fulfilling experience as a friend:
Know your needs – Do you need walking or running shoes? Are they for the office shoes or party? Should they be smart or casual? Likewise, what kind of relationship do you need? Is it companionship, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, care and support or laughter?
What is it you need from particular friends and which of the ones you have is able to meet that need? Although my friend Jackie is not a good listener, she is a wonderful companion, making time to be with me and so I let her be, she meets this need and not the others so I will not burden her with what she cannot give.
Be realistic about your expectations. Few people have the capacity to be all things and meet every need. As friends we need to know our friends and what they are capable of giving us and gratefully take that without expecting from them what they cannot give.
Relationships are two way and that applies to friendship as well, you give and you get. Don’t just be a ‘getter’, also be a ‘giver’. You may not get what you give from the one person but you will surely get it from another. Give and it will be given to you some way or other.
Good shoes are expensive, good friends are precious. Just as shoes need care to last longer, take good care of your friendships to keep them in good shape and have them for longer.
Don’t forget your comfort! Shoes should fit well and you should be able to stand and walk properly in them, they are worn on feet remember and feet take us places.
Build friendships in which you can be yourself and you are accepted for who you are and what you are able to give. If you are forever struggling to be someone else or to meet certain expectations you need to rethink the comfort factor in this friendship and do something about it.
Maybe you need to learn to spread your needs appropriately so they are met.
Accept that just as seasons come and seasons go; some friends will stay with us through life while others come and go. Be willing to let those go and cherish your life-long friends. Be a good friend and enjoy your friendships!