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The friends we all need

The friends we all need

There are three types of friends:
Friends for a reason.
Friends for a season.
Friends for a lifetime.

The other day I was thinking about the friends in my life…the ones I enjoy talking to online and spending time with offline, and while I agree with the three types of friends in the quote at the top of this post, I’d really lump them into two different types:

My number one criteria for close friends (whether for a season or a lifetime) is that they’re willing to consider all sides of an issue. I believe that every issue in life has more than one side and that even if you can’t agree or understand the other side, you need to take the time to try to understand the person behind it. Because at its heart, any argument boils down to the perspective and experiences of individual people. I want friends around me who hold strong beliefs but are willing to hear what others have to say and are willing to respect the people who come to different conclusions than them. We don’t have to see or do everything the same way, but we do have to be able to talk about our differences.

But the other type of friend I think we all need is someone who understands our unique experiences. These are friends for a reason.

I realized this anew when having a conversation with a friend who is also unexpectedly pregnant this year after considering her family complete. I’m not blogging too much about the feelings associated with this because my heart’s desire is that this baby always knows that he or she has been loved and wanted and cherished from the moment we found out I was pregnant, and the feelings are a little too complicated to try to put into writing in a public forum.

But talking to a friend one on one? It’s been really good for my soul. As much as other people might imagine how they’d feel, there are some really unexpected and unique parts to this pregnancy (like the surprise I feel again at every new stage or milestone even though I’ve done this many times before!) that have been good to share with someone who is walking the same road.

Thinking about those conversations reminded me of the ones I had with a friend when we found out Jackson was a boy. This friend also had a gaggle of girls followed by a boy, and there were really unique feelings that I experienced in the weeks and months between finding out and preparing for his birth that she understood in a way that others didn’t. It was such a relief to talk to someone who had experienced most if not all of the same feelings.

As I thought about it more, I can see how it plays out again and again in my life…

It’s a relief to chat with someone else who works from home, homeschools, and carries the weight of the family budget on her shoulders because it’s not something most people fully get.

Sometimes I need to talk to another homeschooler who has a child with the same personality and learning style as one of my kids to be able work through the joys and challenges of those various quirks.

Introverts, HSPs and various other personality types often unite to commiserate over life with that personality trait.

I don’t think our friends have to be just like us (and some of my closest friends are actually a lot different than me in a lot of ways), but when we’re dealing with a unique situation, empathy from someone who wants to understand isn’t always enough; we need to commiserate with someone who has walked or is walking the same path. I would imagine the same is true when you’re facing something like cancer or another medical diagnosis, when you have children with special needs, or when your marriage is in crisis. Caring, loving, empathetic friends are great to have around, but there’s just something special about connecting with someone who truly understands.

I think this is one of the reasons we love the internet. Suddenly it’s easier to find the people who share these unique situations or traits. There are forums and Facebook groups and websites dedicated to the most specific things, and when we find them, we don’t feel alone!

Can you identify the three types of friends in your own life? Do you intentionally seek out friends who understand the unique circumstances in your life?