Monday, August 30, 2010

Developing Lighthouse Friendships

Making lasting connections has always been important to me.

I’ve encountered some rough waters when it comes to friendship. Through the years I’ve learned so much about what it means to be a good friend. I’ve discovered what smooth sailing in relationships feels like.
~~~
Why do Solid Friendships Remind Me of Lighthouses and Ships at Sea?
  • Close friends are fun to hang out with, just like lighthouses are fun places to visit. They are a welcome sight.

  • My rich friendships stand out like beacons in my life. They are loyal when all grows dark.

  • I’m guided by the wise advice my friends share with me, as well as the way they model integrity in their relationships. Ships and lighthouses survive through storms.

  • My closer friends are bright and positive influences in my life (not draining and/or self-seeking). Instead, I experience a mutual give and take. One acts like the lighthouse one day and becomes the ship the next.

  • Some of the most rewarding and beautiful friendships I’ve had are the way they are because of the lighthouse keeper. They operate from a Holy Spirit place of love, relying on the light keeper to care for us so we can care for one another.

In these days when connections can be made online or offline, how have I worked to secure these relationships?

Here are four of the best ways to develop lighthouse friendships:

  • Take Risks

We’ve moved over six times in the eleven years we’ve been married. I should have a black belt in friend making by this point. I’m unafraid of striking up a conversation on the playground, shooting an email to invite someone over, or going out of my way to help a preschool mom, etc.

Recently I had one of the most refreshing lunches I’ve had in quite some time with a fellow author all because I bothered to reach out. You might not make a strong connection—unable to anchor and get deep, but it never hurts to try.

  • Find Common Ground

What do a ship and a lighthouse have in common? The ocean, of course. Friendships thrive when there’s something binding them together—when there’s a common focus. Look for it. You’d be amazed how easy commonalities are to unearth. The obvious connections I’ve made would be with fellow moms, but I’ve also grown close to women who share a love of chocolate, reading, asking questions, and leading.

  • Look to Serve

Uplift and build up others before you think to ask others to build you up. The lighthouse doesn’t make the ship give it something before it shines the light—it simply shines the light. It takes the lead. Having this mindset is essential in creating strong bonds. Be a lighthouse or a ship, not the barnacles suctioned to the rocks.

  • Be Bold with Gratitude & Follow Up

Modern lighthouses flash and have the capability of rotating 180 degrees. It isn’t enough to express gratitude in a friendship once. It’s imperative to follow up nowadays, while still in the building stages of the friendship, but also once anchored. It’s worth it to keep that light flashing.

And don’t forget to thank the light keeper who makes wonderful friendships possible.

What have you learned about strengthening friendship bonds?

29 comments:

  1. Great ideas, Wendy! And love the analogy to the lighthouse! I've had friendships come and go and what I've learned is that each one is special during the time that I have it. While I really love having solid friends that remain by my side, I've also had friends that come and go. And that's okay too. We bless and enrich each other for a time, but then for whatever reason, we move on. I'm always grateful for each person God brings into my life for whatever length that is.

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  2. Wow. Has anyone told you lately, you have a way with words, Wendy! Was that a cliche? No matter; it's true.

    Something I've learned that has helped friendship grow brighter--to use your excellent analogy--is to notice the positive character qualities in another and TELL them. I may see a gift in you that you never noticed. When I shine the light on it, you feel more confident to use it. Then everyone is blessed!

    I call it cheerleading.

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  3. Wonderful analogy! I especially loved/related to this:

    My closer friends are bright and positive influences in my life (not draining and/or self-seeking). Instead, I experience a mutual give and take. One acts like the lighthouse one day and becomes the ship the next.

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  4. So true. On all points. I've found that giving is the secret to friendship (something I'm not always good at), but real friendships take investment and work. So glad to have met you Wendy, and very much appreciate your friendship and kindred spirit (and online friendships don't have to suffer if either of us move)!

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  5. My heart just soaked in every word of this post...What a beautiful picture of friendship.

    I've had to navigate some rocky relationship shoals myself, and you're so right, those Lighthouse Friends make the journey possible.

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  6. Each friend has a specific purpose in our lives and us in them. I know some have been lighthouses to me and I hope to them also. Great post! :O)

    P.S. and lighthouses are just cool like some of my besties!!!

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  7. Good post - wonderful ideas! I love the comparison with the lighthouse; I never thought about it like that. One thing that I've learned is that it takes time and commitment, but that's not a bad thing. Being led by the Spirit is a blessing too.
    Happy Monday,
    Karen

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  8. found you via teri tiffany.

    this is a beautiful post. i once had a woman (she must have been close to 20 years my senior) give me a lighthouse when i moved away. she said i was a "light of christ" and i've never forgotten that.

    i found the lighthouse just last week doing some belated spring cleaning (ok - maybe i'm just early for fall cleaning!) and i still remembered her words and the feeling i had when she presented that gift to me. priceless.

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  9. I love how you say things. I never realized how fragile relationships can be until a few years ago when our lives changed here. I've been blessed with friends who know how to go the distance and there there are those who haven't. I hope I'm the kind who will always be there for someone no matter how rough the waters get:)

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  10. A bible showed up on your doorstep with your name inscribed? I DO need to hear this! And friendship with my writer friends is more valuable than gold. There's no one else in the world who understands, really, no one.

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  11. My introverted self tends to be scared to reach out, but I've discovered beautiful things can happen when I do. Love hearing these tips from an experienced friend-maker. :)

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  12. I love this post, Wendy. Especially the 'be bold with gratitude and follow up'. If ever I feel a friendship wavering, I will send a sincere note of appreciation or just outlining what I like about that person. It is always a blessing to the relationship and I'm grateful for a dear friend long ago who taught me that.

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  13. Very true and I enjoyed your comparisons. Friends are very important to me. We've moved too many times to count, and I've learned how important it is to have friendships on all levels. Some friends will be because we have kids the same age, others will be because we share a common interest, and still others will endure our entire lives.

    By the way, I'm very glad to have you as a friend. :)

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  14. WENDY, oh, you dear!
    This is SOOOOO my heart. I call these lighthouses soulmates.

    Truly it takes a whole lighthouse full of little shining soulmates to keep a writer out of the darkness.

    You preach it, girl.
    You...and this blog...have lighthoused for me.
    Patti
    www.pattilacy.com/blog

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  15. Great post! I have two lighthouse friends right now - both are such a blessing to my life.

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  16. Oooh, the take risks one is hard. Sometimes I revert back to junior high and don't want to get my feelings hurt.

    For me, to maintain a relationship, I try to make sure I'm not always talking about myself. I try to make sure I'm asking them how they're doing, what's new in their life, etc. etc.

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  17. Wendy, can I just say that with every post, I grow to love you more and more? You are truly awesome!

    Something I've recently learned is what you mentioned above--about good friendships adding light into my life. Sometimes we're the lighthouse, and sometimes the boat, but there's a balance. Thank you for brightening my day! :)

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  18. I believe friendships are so vital~ we are people created for relationships. I thank God every day for the people that He brings into my life:)

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  19. I love the symbolism and parallels you draw with lighthouses and ships in regard to friendships (how coincidental that friendships has "ships" in it). With my best friend, Em, I definitely started out as the follower, the taker, the selfish one. Over the span of our friendship I've grown selfless, giving, and other things that were gifts from her to me by way of her example. I think my lack of leadership in our friendship is more about where I see and have always seen my place in the world - a follower. My lack of confidence diminishes any desire I have to hone some type of leadership figure in any relationship. It's not so much that I want to be The Leader as I just want to be equal to the person with whom I'm in the relationship. I don't know that I've ever had that before - equality.

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  20. I love this comparison! I have many lighthouses in my life who I look to for guidance now and again. :)
    I've learned in friendships that it does take both sides to strengthen that bond, but sometimes one has to humble and reach out first.

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  21. Jody, you came to mind when I wrote this post. Seemed like your style. And I most certainly have had seasonal friendships as well. They've blessed me tremendously.

    Jeanette, I think that's why you and I click o well online. I live to encourage others. It makes me feel more alive.

    Jana, Of course, there are all kinds of friendships possible, but I've found my most fulfilling ones include a give and take.

    Susan, You are all kinds of awesome. After reading your book I feel like you and I are old friends. So many laughs. I was Wendy Worker on your blog today, eh? ;)

    Erica, I think I've crashed into some of those shoals. I'm excited to meet you at ACFW. And my lighthouse friends for some odd reason tend to be quite a bit older than me.

    Diane, I get you with the specific purpose. Sometimes it's cool to look back and see why certain peole entered my life when they did.

    Karen, Time, investment and being led by the Spirit are all good things.

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  22. Amie, glad you found your way here. Cleaning, what's that? Oh and I tucked that lighthouse in your things just so you'd click on here today. ;) I'll head over to visit your blog tom.

    Terri, I take you for that kind of person--truly devoted. I've had a few times I've been thrown way off guard myself. Learned so much in those times.

    T. Anne, I get you loud and clear. Hip Hip Hooray for writing friends. I promise I'll share the story someday.

    Sarah, Black belt. ;) Can't wait to meet you at ACFW. I was just thinking about a post you wrote about months ago. I have questions for you--about your life. I'll leave you hangin' with that. ;)

    Tess, I can so see you doing that. Going by memory, but didn't you have a family friend or a teacher that taught you things like that (a male?). Just curious if I'm guessing right.

    Jill, I'm so glad to have you as a friend, too. It's wild, just the sound of someone's laughter can cause me to want to get to know someone. Laughter can start a friendship. I'm so open to God's leading and He's lead me to some wonderful people.

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  23. Patti, I know few people as encouraging as you are. You know I'm grateful for it. Writers can feel in the dark often. Oh, I preached did I? Interesting.

    Katie, So glad you have that. One of mine is a woman in her late 50's--a treasure in my life. Has been for years.

    Elana, Great point about risk. I'm such a softie, a sensitive bird I get my feeling hurt easily so I've gotten more daring. You'd think it would be the opposite, but I just believe life is too short to shut down when I'm hurt.

    Danyelle, I could say the exact same about you. I've certainly been both the ship and the lighthouse. Switch one day to the next sometimes.

    Tamika, I'll never forget what an old friend taught me about isolation. He said our enemy wants to fool us into thinking we are better in isolation, but really that's a fat lie. We need each other.

    Lauren, One thing I noticed with me is the more replenished I am in my faith, the better friend I am, mother, wife...that list goes on. I don't *need* so much from other then. I've grown so much from the kind of friend I used to be and the kind of friendships I used to be drawn to. I attribute this to God, all to God.

    Jennifer, I've gotten pretty good at being humble and reaching out. I've never regretted it.

    Whew. I think those are the longest responses I've ever written. I wanted to make sure to take your comments into consideration and by doing so I gave myself a hand cramp. ;)

    See you Wednesday.
    ~ Wendy

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  24. Hi Wendy -

    Great analogy for friendship!

    I've learned that friendship requires vulnerability. Sometimes my heart's been trampled, but it was worth the risk when I found a life-long friend.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  25. Wendy, you wrote full of wisdom. I think another, which is small, but reaps great reward is to listen without judgement. Then share when it's right.

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  26. I read this post twice, this morning and again tonight. What I both offer and value in friendship is transparency and honesty.

    And yes, they come with huge risk, for sure.

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  27. I have learned so much about friendships over the past two years. Being an Air Force spouse has taught me how to be more outgoing and seek out new friends and my faith has taught me who I want to be friends with. This is a perfect guide to friendship! Thank you!!

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  28. I've learned that it takes time. Period. Which means I can't sustain many deep relationships at a time. It's okay to have friendships, I think, at different levels, but I sure do need a few "kindred spirits" to speak into my life.

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  29. Wendy:
    You really said it well. My two best friends and I have been dealing with a lot lately. One of my friends may begin a journey tomorrow that can put fear in anyone's heart. She and her husband await results from a medical test he had done last Wednesday.
    My other friend has a sister who suffered a stroke and is not doing well at all. My friend has chosen to leave her job to care for her older sister. They both prayed for us throughout this summer, now, it has been my turn to pray fervently for them.

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