The Picture Of A Best Friend

What characteristics define your picture of the word “friend”? What about a best friend? Are there key qualities which stand out from the rest that a friend must have? I believe there are, and I believe these qualities give significant weight to the way we treat others, ourselves, and the influence by which we decide to embody these qualities and influence others to do the same. Without these qualities, I believe the qualities of friendship corrodes, and I believe that the the behavior we use encourages others to follow suit; whether the influence we follow is the lazy selfishness of dependency, or the compassionate selflessness of a devoted ally.

I will break down my picture of what it means to be a best friend, and I would like you to share with me any qualities you feel should be added in the comments below.

We acquire the strength of compassion by witnessing it in action, or we deface its essence by drowning selflessness with narcissism. By seeing compassion in action, we see through the behavior or empathy and sympathy how important it is to reach outside of ourselves and lift others up with the strength we have from God. We are not strong on our own, and others need to know they are not alone, either.

Love without God is artificial and transient. Love isn’t sex: Sex is representative of something deeper. Searching for love only in sex is an incomplete journey. Love is emotional, and where sex feels amazing, the ecstatic sensations of copulation are not transcendent of feelings or their realities; it is, in fact, the opposite is true: Ecstasy derived from sex is the made possible by the emotional bond between two partners. Without their bond, sex is a flood or racing hormones, and emotions are dismissed as an unnecessary appendage. This indisputable mistake is detrimental to the relationship—which, in itself is only a conduit to hedonism. If sex is used purely for ecstasy, then the culmination of the bond is to appease the brain, not the heart.

Trust is built over time, and requires vulnerability and the amalgam of adversity with compassion to sustain. Experiencing hardship wth someone genuinely choosing to stay with us during a painful period is indicative of the desire to gain trust and deepen the bond; not only for themselves, but for you. Trust is either a cornerstone to a strong friendship, or part of the broken backbone of heartache and betrayal.

Vulnerability is transparency and honesty rolled into one. Telling someone your secrets is being explicitly vulnerable. Your darkest, most embarrassing, humbling flaws reveal your most susceptible self in a way nothing else can compare to. Openness is the window to transparency, and closing the shade over that is dismissing the desire to gain intimacy. Notice I placed trust ahead of vulnerability– because for many people, vulnerability comes after trusting someone; though, you can take a leap of faith and be very vulnerable and bold in discovering whether the person you opened up to is worthy of your trust. Undoubtedly, if they receive you well, the trust is that much more clearly unshakable.

Caring for someone does not equate with doing something for someone to elicit a response. We do not take care of our friend when they’re sick so that they’ll buy us what we want when they recover. An authentic person understands the difference between loving someone unconditionally and conditionally is the lack of expectation later on. The most caring person shocks us because we don’t expect their selflessness; yet the source of concern is not looking in the mirror, but helping your friend by being their mirror.

Kindness is such an underrated quality in today’s world. That’s why the kind people are the ones with the friends, because the only people in this world kind enough to make best friend material are the magnets for the rest of us. Beyond etiquette and politeness, beyond “please” and “thank you”—there is the core to a person who wants to be kind because they can tell it feels good to be considerate and generous to others when they can see their actions having a positive effect. However, being a positive influence is not testing others for a response; it’s acting on the will to do what is good and right (and usually unexpected) for the sake of being a difference to someone else ((showing the light of Christ through unconditional (perhaps unexpected) love)), regardless of whether they blink their eyes and ignore your good deed, or stop dead in their tracks with gratitude for your good heart.

When I think of a great friend, it’s someone who is dependable, someone who is able to be there for me regardless of what they’re doing. Some friends literally leave work to spend time others experiencing pain, and sometimes a friend will step aside their life schedule to call when a friend needs that favor. Dependability means not making excuses not to care, and choosing to be the kind of person who wants to experience every aspect of their best friend; good and bad, hard and easy; fun and depressed. A dependable friend knows to be there for you, and learn what it means to meet your needs in any way they can.

How often do our friends just drop away, out of our lives, like a rabbit in the hat a magician? There is pain to loss, and even deeper pain when loss carries no explanation. Being a constant in someone’s life requires both dependability and stability, caressing the wound of years past with a simple, “I’m here.” A best friend’s “I’m here” could be a decade–or several decades–worth of experiences building up to the culmination of being able to say, “I understand what you’re going through. You’re not alone. We’ll get through this together. Just stay with me, and everything will be fine”–in two words. A constant friend need not say much after a while, because their presence speaks volumes.

What kind of a friend are you? What kind would you like to be, and what road would you need to take to get there? Do the qualities of a friend stated here resonate with you? Do you know of many people who carry these characteristics–and do they inspire you to be like them?

Our characteristics are God-given qualities that were meant to keep us directed towards Him. Jesus showed all of these, and much more. Truly, if there’s an example to live by, it is Christ. Can we take from this and learn by His example?

Maybe this list is not what you expected. Maybe you have your own list? What does yours look like?

I hope this challenges you and encourages you to try to be more than you have ever been. God is with you and can show you everything you need to know if you’ll search for His presence within you. He is closer than a brother, and certainly the prime example to look to. I pray you are blessed this day, and inspired to do more and be more than you ever thought you could. May He bless your decision to be your best in all that you do. In Jesus name! 🙂

The Art Of Authenticity

Say your friend gives you a gift, and their lips and cheeks are curled into a smile, but their eyes lay flat—how does taking their gift make you feel? Even for the people with little knowledge of body language can discern something off about a person’s countenance when two different muscle groups are not agreeing with each other on the same emotion; we can tell when others give something because they feel obligated to give, or when their generosity is genuine and unconditional.

Authenticity is our second greatest gift to ourselves, penultimate to loving ourselves the way Jesus loves us. The truest way we see ourselves authentically is without any facades, masks, or obscurations. How hard can it be?

The way we know when we are being authentic is whether the version of ourselves we are around people is the same version we aren’t afraid to be behind closed doors. Frankly, that is the best ‘self’ we can manage to embrace because, alternatively, with so many layers of secrets, all authenticity gets lost in the enormous black abyss of duplicity.

If who you are when others can’t hear or see you is different than the way you are with people, then perhaps one of the best questions to ask yourself is what you have to hide? There is no reason why you can’t be you. The only person stopping you from being your most organically natural self is you, and one of the only reasons you can conjure up to excuse that truth is by being too fearful of the world’s prejudice. What is it about the world’s censure that makes you so afraid to be the best you can be? Are you afraid of being unaccepted? Are you less afraid of the world morphing your character into one massive lie so that the false version of you can fit in; while the authentic you waits until you’re alone again? Which one of these fears takes priority for you?

As every day ends, what matters most is that you are honest with yourself. Being honest with yourself enables you to show others the most honest version of you, and that is pivotal to accepting yourself, as well as the enabling of others to be able to accept the real you, and not the false pretense version of you as influenced by the world.

One truth that I love to refer back to is the authenticity of Jesus Christ. Even as the Pharisees would try to trap Him in a political or theological lie, He always had a valid rebuttal that minimized their redundant religious quarrels. Jesus’ authenticity drew crowds around Him, and His character was genuinely loving, compassionate, confident, knowledgeable; obstinate, and never unfair. His words were used for the amelioration of others, and His rebukes were always righteous. As the opposite—an unauthentic person draws hypocrisy into their soul, dividing their ratiocination between self-deprecation and extrapolation of self-worth by worldly judgment.

Various situations call for different aspects of ourselves. Politics, for instance, request that we expose our intentions and clearly communicate what they are. Of course, politics are a microcosm of their own, having been misconducted through generations past—damaging the retention of authenticity with the interjection of duplicity. What is hard about retaining our authenticity in politics is allowing humility to transcend selfishness in attaining our pursuits, engulfing our spirit of humility in deceitfulness. We congratulate our proactivity, confidence, and bold pertinacity, but end up dismissing the questionable method we “must” undergo to achieve its results, undermining the importance of the retention of truth, and the underrated necessity of transparency—both the underscoring floorboards of authenticity itself.

Authenticity in relationships require us to be aware of who we are, what we want, how we feel, and that we have a matured degree of selflessness about us; spacial enough to extend our greatest and most distinguishing human ability: to love another person. These human facets are obscured and made confusing, even to ourselves—and are therefore impossible to embrace and imbue into our being—if we are not the truest version of ourselves with others.

These examples of authenticity are not to be confused with the dangerous perspectives of transparency which express we should expose who we are in ways we would consider intrusive and unnecessary. We can’t afford, for the sake of retaining our most genuine selves–letting the world convince us that we need to sound a certain way, dress a certain way, or prove our worth using any method outside the natural expressions of our public behavior, the way we respond to people on a regular basis, and what we believe in based on our own experiences. Authenticity demands of others that they see us for us regardless of judgment.

No, we can’t stop others from judging us, this is absolutely true. But what we can do, what we do, in fact, have control over– is the way we deal with others’ judgment. The weight we put on the opinion of the people we feel judged by reveals a lot about our dependency on their approval for our self-validation. The world is transformed day by day, just as we are. But transformation can mean improving oneself, or deteriorating and falling apart. Amelioration is the betterment of something. The amelioration of a person means to better oneself; straightening out your priorities, and choosing to love rather than being hollow or selfish. Deterioration of character is the choice to allow the world and all its criticism to conquer our minds, our choices, and lastly our actions. Letting this happen is the picture of giving back to the world what we receive from it: pain, bitterness, judgment, anger, and resentment. These feelings are all valid, but they are not the effective constituents of building the road to the improvement of our best selves. Our best selves would not ridicule, vindicate, or even the score with those who have caused us turmoil and hardship; Jesus taught that by example by dying on the cross when He’d done nothing wrong.

I challenge you to see for yourself what your own authenticity looks like, and to burrow through what may be causing you to procrastinate, or to altogether be afraid of what the best version of you looks like to you. Genuineness comes with accepting who we are, which means liking who we are—flaws and all. Whether you have a lisp, curly hair, or you have a dancing style that others may give strange looks to–none of these should stop you from being you, always! These are merely examples, but the point is that of all the multifarious ways people are unique, different, and stand out, may very well not always be welcomed by the world. That is just a truth we have to accept while living in a world corrupted with sin, a heavy cesspool of judgment, and poorly developed faith in a God who we are designed to find our purpose, worth, and validation in anyways; not the world.  This doesn’t make you any less worth who you are, and this can’t stop you from being more like you every day. Whether you sing loud in the shower, or you listen to one song every day for hours back-to-back, there is nothing wrong with you having parts of your character which others simply don’t understand or appreciate. These are still parts of you which do not change your worth! In fact, these define you more because they come from within. They make you smile, they inspire you to think and be what others aren’t. And others could never be you.

There is nothing quite more extraordinary than being who you are, all the time. Being anyone else is robbing the world of something magnificent, treasurable, and worthy of being seen, noticed, and experienced. If you find several who can’t notice that, just keep on being you. Someone will see you and love what they witness. You are a sight and a character to behold, and everything about you is screaming that. Let those who have ears to hear and eyes to see appreciate the parts of you which no one else can replicate or copy, and witness the parts of you that can inspire, motivate, and bring others to their best authentic self as well. We are all inspirations. We are all role models—if we bring out our most authentic selves and allow them to bloom in all their likeness.

In closing this post, I want to mention how I love the concept of a flower being an exemplar of authenticity, as inanimate as a flower is. This example is an illustration that, like a flower, we need to be exactly the way we were made to be. A flower can’t really be anything but a flower, and we can’t be anything but human, but a flower won’t try to be a different kind of flower, so we should we try to pretend we are like someone else? A flower is a flower, or it’s nothing at all. What does that say about you? What does that say about us as a society?

You were meant to be seen. You have much to show the world. And they have much to see and learn from you. We all have something to learn from each other. And when we finally get through to someone, we can point them towards the Source of all authenticity: Christ Himself.

Take your first step and show them what you’re made of. The world needs the real you.