This column has been updated.
Too often, we think we need to be all shiny paper and fancy bows on the outside to positively impact friends, and we’re afraid to let them see the plain brown paper we sometimes are. In reality, our true friends usually know when the outside wrapping is just for show. What they need is for you and me to love them and be real.
Here are three ways to let the real you shine through.
- Don’t Hide Your Discouragement – Life is hard and ups and downs are expected. Let them see you seek help. Don’t be fake, they may have their hypocrisy radar turned on!
- Say, “I Don’t Know.” – If something has caused them to question an aspect of life, stay away from pat, cliché answers. Crying with them and admitting you still don’t understand everything either, is OK.
- Love Unconditionally – We don’t get mad at infants when they fall while learning to walk. Nor would we become angry with a blind friend, for stumbling over something in an unfamiliar room. Well, you and I aren’t perfect, and neither are our friends; imperfection, and the problems that causes, are unavoidable.
It’s not easy to be real. Remember though, many of our friends know what fake looks like. They want and need our love, and if they get it, most will be willing to put up with our imperfections because they will trust our intentions.
P.S. Loving unconditionally doesn’t mean putting up with everything said or done by a friend. Just as we lovingly correct a child to move them toward maturity, we must sometimes step up and address thoughts and behaviors that are harmful to us or people we care about.
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