I recently had the privilege of meeting up with my friend, Mary, a former college roommate for the purpose of spending three lovely days together. We wanted to catch up on our lives, have fun together and get away from the hustle and bustle of our families. No requirements, didn’t have to be anywhere, only food, laughter, rest and great conversation for three days!
How do friendships nourish and refresh our souls?
As I thought about the time Mary and I spent together, I realized how refreshed I was when I came back. Three things stood out to me as nourishing to my soul:
I could be real and authentic with her.
The nice part about a friendship of “the heart” is that you don’t have to pretend to be someone you are not. Mary and I have been friends for 44 years! As we joked, we wondered how that happened. We must have been friends as babies:-) Because we have been through lots of years together, I don’t have to paint in what I am thinking. This social support has been shown to increase longevity and reduce dementia. What a blessing to my soul as well as a health benefit!
2. I share a long history with her.
Since Mary and I have known each other a long time, we know that we can count on each other. That comfort is priceless. I don’t have to be anyone else but myself. In reality, we have been friends through hardships, celebrations, sicknesses and whatever life has thrown at us. We pick up wherever we leave off in our conversations and don’t have to be someone we are not. We are safe with one another and can share our hearts. We listen, cry, laugh and pray together. Our conversations were filled with laughter as well as tears as we caught up . Interestingly, brain studies have shown that this trust and feeling of belonging bolsters self esteem by almost fifteen percent. I love how Scripture reinforces our lives as well. – So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. I Thessalonians 5:11 NLT.
3. We share a similar life stage together.
Mary and I both have recently retired, are facing similar health issues, have grown children living with us and love Jesus Having similar life challenges and joys to share bonds our hearts together as we explore what we need to nourish our souls. What a comfort to know someone else is experiencing something similar to what you are experiencing. According to a recent study from Brandeis University, this social support can reduce aging by up to 10 years. No wonder Mary and I are so young!
How can you find friendships to nourish your soul?
What do you need in a friendship? Do you have friends currently with whom you can be real and authentic? How can you find friends that will encourage you? Here are three questions and actions to consider:
Why do you want to cultivate closer friendships? – social, fun, interests, spiritual, learning, past history together – Think about what you need in a friend and what you can give to a friendship….
How can you make more friends? – Depending on what you need, think about a variety of ways to reach out to different women – join a class, form an interest group, like a book club or writing group, get involved in a church or community group, reach out to past friends with whom you have history
What are your expectations with your friendships? Be clear on the reality of your time and the clarity of your expectations. How can you be real and authentic as you approach new relationships or even past ones? How can you be the friend you want to be?
Now, ask God how He sees you as a friend and what your next step is. I realized, especially with this close friend, how grateful I am for her friendship. It creates a de that I want to cultivate additional close friends here at home. I have joined a writers’ group, am looking to connect to more women my age, as well as continue being in a “mentor” role and thinking about how I continue to developing additional friendships. I am grateful for the friends I have, but one can never have too many friends! I can’t wait to hear how your next steps in developing friends that nourish your soul. I would love to have a conversation with you on my NancyBoothCoaching page. What is working for you?
“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9b Msg
Nancy Booth is a certified life coach and certified brain-based coach. She loves creating safe spaces for women going through life’s transitions to discover and support their visions for health and well-being in an overwhelming world, explore possibilities for next steps and find hope. She writes about taming the overwhelm and reducing stress, looking for ways to motivate, energize and inspire you! You can sign up to receive her weekly blog or contact her to find out ways you can begin to shed overwhelm and stress. It’s time to explore possibilities of new relationships, better life pacing and gain hope and peace.