5 Ways to Cultivate Authentic Friendships (Part II)

Katie Morford was my guest on Monday, but she had so much I wanted to share that we broke it into two posts. If you missed Monday, do go back and read the whole thing, but for the quick catch-up, here’s a summaryOut rowing of what she said:

“I believe we live in the loneliest generation the world has ever known. We are more “connected” than ever, but only on the surface. We crave true friendships that last a lifetime. To be seen. Known. To reveal our real selves and cultivate authentic friendships.

If that’s you, you’ve come to the right place. Sit down. Let’s have a chat. If you want more real friendships in your life, the first thing you have to do is be real and extend the hand first.”

Now, here’s the rest.


by Katie Morford @KLMorford

Ask good questions.

Walking on the beachWhen I was working for a newspaper, I quickly learned that often the only difference between a mediocre story and a fantastic one is asking the right questions.

The same is true cultivating authentic friendships. Don’t settle for the easy questions about work, the weather, or where they bought their new dress (though you might want to save the “Did you really cheat on your college boyfriend?” question for at least the second coffee date).

Ask questions that give your friend a chance to share about their hobbies, passions, and experiences. Ask about their life growing up, the good and the bad about their day, and what their “impossible dream” might be (everyone has one).

Write a list of questions and memorize them if you must, but most of all, listen with genuine interest. Good questions show you want to know the real person—not just the image they project to the world.

Be a friend.

Okay. I know this sounds obvious, but hang with me here. I’ve met so many people who lament their lack of friends, yet have made no attempt to be a friend to someone else. I’m sure you have a few people coming to mind.

Don’t be that person.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Healthy friendships are reciprocal. If you’re always the one giving out and never receiving friendship in return, that’s a whole different problem (and blog post).

But seriously—it’s not about you. The point of friendship is not to improve your social status, get that next promotion, or secure a babysitter for date night. Truly authentic people searching for truly authentic friendships can smell selfish motives a mile away.

Be an authentic friend to someone because that’s the kind of person you are—or maybe want to be—and you’ll be surprised how other people are drawn to you along the way.

Give a lot of grace.Different feet

You ready for this? Real people make mistakes. And I’m not talking everyday “you promised me you’d babysit the kids and you forgot” kind of mistakes (though those happen too). I mean, cutting words and epic failures and the kind of mistakes where you can’t decide whether to cry or throw them out the window.

Understand me. I’m not talking abuse. That’s a different animal. But I’ve seen a disturbing trend of people throwing away lifelong friends like they’re disposable and upgrading to a better model. People “unfriending” others faster than they can click a button simply because they made an honest mistake.

We are all only human. We aren’t the perfect people we like to pretend we can be. So when that day comes and your friend lets you down (and it will come), remember how you’d want them to treat you in your mess and mistakes, and be real enough to admit you’re not perfect either. Forgive, restore, and give a lot of grace.

As the wise C.S. Lewis once said, “We are all sinners and all very hard to live with.”

Best of luck. And remember—you can do this. You only have to take the first step.


Steph and Katie eating cupcakes

Katie Morford is a globe-trotting missionary journalist and travel photographer who’s secretly a homebody, fiction writer and book nerd. She travels the world creating short documentary videos with a Christian media team. You can follow her adventures on her travel photography blog

In her spare time, Katie writes space opera and action-adventure novels (pick up her latest release, Kenanunder pen name Karis Waters) and is an editor for Crosshair Press. Once a month you’ll catch her on the CP blog, waxing eloquent on life, travel, and living a great story. Katie lives in northern England despite disliking both rain and milk in her tea. 

12 thoughts on “5 Ways to Cultivate Authentic Friendships (Part II)

  1. This has been one of my favorite guest posts yet.

    Ever since I was in middle school and was deeply hurt by my best friend, I really haven’t had a close friend. Let me tell you, it’s a long and lonely walk when you don’t have friends. Your article almost made me cry as I realized all the opportunities I’d missed, and potential friendships I’d thrown out because I was afraid of getting hurt again.

    However, this post has not just made me face the truth about my relationships with other people. It’s also instilled hope in me. I need to let go of my cynicism and try to make friends again.

    Thank you, Katie, and thank you, Crystal. Really, this piece was everything I needed to hear.

    1. This piece has resonated with so many of us, Paige–and I am grateful you stopped by. You’ve shown such courage in your comment.

      I, too, have been hurt (and have hurt) a friend. As Katie says, we are imperfect people, and these things will happen. There is a tendency to protect ourselves–and to be honest, sometimes we need to. It is a difficult balance to find, but it does not mean that the actions of one person predetermine the actions of everyone.

      It continues to amaze me how inching out of my comfort zone can bring such huge amounts of comfort and blessing to me, and I hope, to others as well.

  2. Hello Paige,

    What a privilege to hear from you today! Thanks for sharing a bit of your heart and your story. I’m so sorry for the way you were treated by a friend that hurt you so badly, but I applaud you for being willing to take that first step and “extend a hand!”

    While authentic friendships aren’t easy and imperfect people will always hurt us (and we will hurt them), those friendships are absolutely worth it in every way!

    It’s such a joy and blessing to know that a few thoughts from my heart could touch yours so deeply. Only God! Bless you and go in peace.

    Katie

    1. I agree, Katie–authentic friendships are absolutely worth it. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us!

  3. Katie,
    Not that long ago I spoke to someone who suggested that perhaps I had some forgiving to do in my life. The funny thing is God didn’t reveal a name to me, there was a list. And one by one I contacted those and asked God for the words. I bring this up for two reasons. When I shared with these names what it is God had led me to, I was met with Grace. Every time. And that showed me that I had manufactured these scripts in my mind that were elaborate. The problem was, they weren’t true. And I spent countless hours, days, dare I admit years believing and acting on those scripts. To see God reveal them was amazing. But somehow not overwhelming because though they had a history, I also saw God make the ink invisible.

    I think one area that I want God to redeem in me. Believe me there are a lot, but one I am thinking of right now is the area of storing. You know. Where you are okay with what is said to you, done to you, but in the recesses of your mind you’re not. So you take out this list and with your marker you make a check mark. Just a little one that you can see. Harmless right? No. And the reason it’s not is that when that page is filled. Well, those are the relationships that end leaving the ones on the opposite end bewildered.

    Lastly, I want to say that the measuring tool we can mistakenly use as we size up others is faulty. Let’s say, for instance that I am a person who never ____________. It may be an area I pride myself on, though I never have to let others know. When a person does the thing I would never do. Well, there is no forgiveness. Because I would never do it, how could they?

    I have had people I thought were friends just leave. And it has been devastating as I would recount all the time invested in those relationships, and many, many great times. You’re right we are faulty beings. And I believe until we look to the lover of our souls as our true friend, letting him soothe our hurts and wounds, we may make the mistake of thinking this friendship will be the one. I’ve gone on and on and I believe it’s because you struck a chord. One that has an unfinished piece in me. Thank you Katie. And thank you too Crystal.

    1. Anne, I read this the day you posted it, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. There have been times when I’ve wanted to hold on to a perfectly-good-mad, and have nursed a hurt, whether it was real or perceived. This made it easier to justify my actions, particularly when I hadn’t chosen well. I lacked strong role models until I was an adult, and I had much unlearning to do. Like you, I couldn’t understand why some relationships simply fell apart.

      It hurts, doesn’t it? Yet, the answer you and I have both found is in God’s grace. In letting him teach me to loosen my grip on my anger, and realizing that forgiving others helps me, in asking him to show me some solid role models so that I could learn, I’ve also been blessed with authentic relationships.

      Thank you for your honest and open comment. You have touched me.

    2. Janyre, thank you so much for sharing! I definitely struggled with self-worth, rejection, and therefore my friendships in middle school. I always wanted others to “make the first move” and start a conversation or make me feel welcome. It’s taken a long time (and it’s still a work in progress) for me to realize the other person might be just as scared or insecure as me. It really is all about setting my fears and selfishness aside and intentionally pursuing relationship and openness with others. I’ve found that more often than not, when I’m authentic and share first it gives others the freedom to be open as well. So glad you’re having these conversations with your daughter! Keep it up! Our friendships shape us in such powerful ways. I believe learning how to build great friendships is so key!

    3. Anne (with an “e” 🙂

      Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your beautiful heart! Isn’t that the truth–that we invent these scripts in our heads when, really, if we were to ask the other person, that’s not what they are thinking at all!

      It sounds strange, but one of my favorite phrases has become “I’m sorry.” Such simple words but they have such power to heal!

      Often I get all worked up about a perceived hurt, telling off that person in my head, silently fuming and letting it fester. And when that little Holy Spirit prick becomes too annoying to ignore, I muster up the courage to tell the person that what they said hurt me.

      Nine times out of ten, the first words out of their mouth is, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. What I actually meant was…”

      And just like that, the relationship is on the mend, communication is restored, you’re on the road to an even better and deeper relationship than before! But finding the courage to share lovingly with the person who hurt me is hard. And finding grace to forgive someone who has hurt me is even harder.

      I’m a demanding person. I expect a lot from myself (some would say too much) and therefore often have unrealistic expectations of others as well. I’m a highly intuitive person, so I expect those close to me “just know” that I’m upset and why…when that’s just not their responsibility and personality (I love a highly logical and practical man). Yet I take for granted the calm, logical parts of that personality that benefit me (especially when I’m filling out insurance forms and am in meltdown mode). Someone once told me to always seek to understand others…don’t expect them to understand you and adjust accordingly! It’s good advice I’ve used often.

      Understanding others…and myself…better has helped me see my own weaknesses and give grace to others in their own weaknesses and personality quirks.

  4. I am also that introvert who struggled her way through middle school cruelty. Much of my perception of myself is rather stuck there in the words I heard and told myself. I remained stuck one foot in the past until my daughter entered middle school. I realized that for her sake, I needed to figure out how to do this friend thing. Together she and I are working on it. This will give us additional ideas to discuss and think about. Thanks for being willing to be so honest Katie.

    1. Isn’t it difficult to change the tape in our heads, Janyre? I applaud you for realizing how your recording could affect your daughter. We need authentic friendships in this crazy world. May God give one to you–and one to your daughter too.

    2. Janyre, thank you so much for sharing! I definitely struggled with self-worth, rejection, and therefore my friendships in middle school. I always wanted others to “make the first move” and start a conversation or make me feel welcome. It’s taken a long time (and it’s still a work in progress) for me to realize the other person might be just as scared or insecure as me. It really is all about setting my fears and selfishness aside and intentionally pursuing relationship and openness with others. I’ve found that more often than not, when I’m authentic and share first it gives others the freedom to be open as well. So glad you’re having these conversations with your daughter! Keep it up! Our friendships shape us in such powerful ways. I believe learning how to build great friendships is so key!

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