Think about this: All of our greatest spiritual challenges and ultimate growth occur within the realm of relationship. We start out primarily learning and experiencing relationship with our biological or primary care family. We experience a growing relationship within ourselves that’s reflected in our feelings of safety, self-worth, satisfaction, and our sense of abilities and talents in the world.
We experience relationship within our cultures and rules of societies, communities, schools, various organizations and our diverse, yet personal spiritual pathways with the Divine.
We continually have a relationship with nature in Mother Earth because we are an intrinsic part of the earth.
There isn’t anything that we don’t have a relationship with. Many of the types of relationships I mentioned are ones we are born or directed into. Then there are those we personally find our way to or they find their way to us. This is where friendship comes in. Among the most important and influential people we have in life are those we call our friends. We choose our friends!
Initially as parents, we keep an eagle eye out for who our kid’s friends are, because we know that can be a gauge of how children feel about themselves, the strength of their developing personality, and admittedly, a reflection in part, of how our guidance and lifestyle is influencing their self-esteem and outlook of the world.
We should never forget however, that all people are individual souls who are born with their own lessons, personalities, and talents, so if one of our kids walks deep into the dark side of humanity and eventually joins up with a crime gang, while the rest of the family is loving and never went as far as a parking ticket, or the family hallmark of professors has an offspring that is completely content with wandering and doing odd jobs, take heart! We see karmic lessons at work and both the light and the dark sides of us have something valuable to learn from each other, or those seemingly conflicting relationships wouldn’t have been initially born.
Looking back, we can easily see how our friends were a supporting backbone for our growth and joy or how they might have become the ole ball and chain if we hadn’t realized they’d served their purpose and it was time to move on because the spirit of the relationship ran dry.
Who hasn’t seen the child that grew up in degrees of poverty, abuse, and ignorance with little moral family structure, and go on to forge an education and work with service to humanity? We see that out of dark places, a powerful light has been forged that will not be diminished under harsh circumstances, but instead was the catalyst that fueled the desire for something toward a higher good.
Our greatest spiritual and heartfelt challenges are derived from unlikely connections that appear for a specific purpose, usually destined to become detachments when the lessons of attachment and control are learned. In other words, we move on with grace.
It’s a darn bumpy road sculpting a strong foundation of a spiritually awakened human being, and truly, we all have chips in our foundations that we’ll spend life cycles polishing out if we’re serious about our personal evolution. Friends play a significant role in our soul growth because they help reflect and challenge our identity as we simultaneously do for them – mirroring each other in so many ways like a prism that reflects rainbows of color.
With all this in mind, what do we want from our friendships? What characteristics and values are important for us to maintain satisfying, healthy relationships?
Gathered from personal experience, observation and input from friends, here are the top requirements for maintaining lasting, joyful friendships:
- Friends are honest, kind, trustworthy
- Friends do not compete with or “outdo” friends
- Friends make us feel safe and comfortable – we can peacefully be ourselves
- Friends listen to us
- Friends are not jealous and spiteful
- Friends are the sacred keepers of our most intimate secrets
- Friends never bully or negatively gossip about other people
- Friends support and cheer our creative interests and work
- Friends respect our personal spiritual values and experiences
- Friends support cultural, racial, sexual, and spiritual diversity
- Friends don’t try to change us into themselves (do as I do, like what I like…)
- Friends don’t always agree or go along with us – (that honesty thing)
Naturally, we must equally be able to be all of these same things as someone else’s friend. That’s what soul growth in relationship is all about.
I believe one of the qualities of a truly mature and great friend is the ability to openly disagree about something, as well as have the strength to compassionately tell us the truth about a weakness or unpleasant behavior we have a hard time acknowledging for ourselves.
For example, we have a pattern of showing up for lunch or an event 30 minutes late. We blow in with a rumpled smile on our face and sigh, “Whew! So much going on! Time just slipped away…” How many times did we sit around feeling stood up and taken for granted?
The moment we see a pattern of repeated unacceptable behavior form, it’s prime time to kindly, yet firmly, express how we feel, and state the facts – in this case, having been late three times in a row at various events, etc. We all get the picture, right? A brief conversation needs to help clear the air and we must come to a mutual agreement about the resolution which would be to be on time going forward. No excuses.
Within this great diverse global mix in the 21st century of spiritual, cultural, and sexual orientation, we have never before had such wonderful opportunities to grow in an expanded awareness and understanding by cultivating a variety of friends. Embracing diversity eliminates the ignorance of superstition and fear, and unifies our evolving spiritual structure of humanity.
Even though as friends, we can be mirrors for each other, it’s not always in the same way. There are times a friend will reflect a quality we admire, like patience. If we tend to have a lack of patience, we may want to strengthen that characteristic within ourselves. Think of a quality we particularly admire in one of our friends, and we can be sure that it is one we desire more soul growth experience in. Our patient friend can help guide us.
The people we surround ourselves with should not only be reflections of who we are, but reflect qualities and experiences that inspire us to grow in the most unexpected and beautiful ways. Friendship is the basis of every good relationship and the source of our soul growth. Our dearest friendships are gifts of gold we give one another.
Triza Schultz Copyright © 2020 – All rights reserved.
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