Saturday, September 8, 2012

Of Fires and Friendships: And How Do You Be a Good Friend?

After following orange detour signs around winding silo-topped farms and rolled up bales of hay, the state park road dropped down a hill and along a glassy river. Camp sites sprinkled both sides of the road and we crunched into gravely sites. 

Later, wrapped in cool autumn night, we folded marinated chicken, red onions and peppers into tin foil, and dropped them in the embers. As night fell cooler and supper steamed, we unwrapped our lives, opening wide. Fire flickered on halves of faces as we shared struggles, worries, joys, and God’s transformations. Silence soaked up our fire for a few moments as we sat under more stars than I had seen for years and listened to campground noises. Then filling our cups again, we laughed and talked some more. 

Various seasons of life have made me deeply grateful for friendships, near and far. Some friends I see weekly, others every few months, or even once every few years; and some friends are wrapped in family skin or siblings’ wedding ties; nonetheless I am deeply grateful to them all. 

As an old friend of mine ponders friendships, and various ones near me reminisce about days gone by, here is my vow. I choose to be a good friend, regardless of circumstances and locations, by…

  • Choosing to listen often, and speak when needed.

  • Choosing to love you unconditionally.

  • Choosing to be transparent and vulnerable.

Deep caring friendships in today’s world can be elusive. I am blessed to have them, and work hard at being a good friend in return. What do you feel are the top two or three traits of good friendship? What trait do you wrestle with being yourself?
 P.S. I love getting to know you guys. Do you want to grab a photo of yourself that expresses something you enjoy, post it with a small description, and then copy my site's link into your blog post? We can hop into a show-and-tell time together. :) I love camping and being in the woods. Even just a short walk outside causes me to breathe deeper, stretch my shoulders high, and smile, connecting deeper with God. 

Tag! Those in email, click here.


Elizabeth said...

Thanks for the link, Jen! I'm curious to know, re: your comment, what you meant by friendship conversations varying? Have you found that the quality of your conversations also varies depending on what stage you’re at in life?

AmyAlves said...

This is one of my favorite posts you've put together Jennifer! I also eat up a friend who is willing to share hearts back and forth... and all I have to do if I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed is to step outdoors for a few minutes. God meets me with people but sometimes powerfully through nature! Love this girl! ~ Blessings from Maine, Amy

Jennifer Dougan said...

Amy, thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. I'm curious what stood out about it from other posts for you?

Yes, breathing in the outdoors is rejuvenating for me too. :) And in people too...

Have a great Wednesday!


Jennifer Dougan said...

Elizabeth, I felt that was a vague comment even as I was typing it on your screen, and even tweaked it once there. :) No, I wouldn't think my conversations vary too much depending on stages in life between me and whomever I am speaking with -- at least I'm trying to be me where-ever I am at, and with whomever I'm with. No, rather there have been limitations outside my control some times that limit occasional topics or my amount of disclosure there. Does that make sense?

I value transparency and vulnerability though, and am striving for that more and more completely.

Catch me up on you... :)


Unknown said...

I think be vulnerable myself is the hardest part. I'm always ready to be there for someone else and yet I'm slow to ask for a listening ear when I need it.

Nikki @ Simplystriving said...

Oh, I'm with Mary Beth. I'm always willing to give and hesitant to receive...but God's been working on that in me lately.

Friendship does take hard work! and yet, even Jesus needed them. souls to share with.

What a wonderful post. Enjoyed meeting you today, Jennifer! Hope to see you around again soon!

Ramblings by Carol Nuckols said...

I think one of the best qualities of being a friend is one you mentioned --- to accept people as they are, without judging them. I also believe in loyalty. You help your friends, even when it isn't convenient. And share your deepest thoughts and feelings.

Lisa notes... said...

Those are great traits of friendship. I feel blessed to have a variety of friends, some I see often and others now and again, but all friends regardless.

Cheryl Barker said...

Jennifer, love how you said "we unwrapped our lives". I think that's one of the most important traits of a good friendship.

Jennifer Dougan said...

Mary Beth,

Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by. :) Yes, taking that time to stop and be vulnerable ourselves takes conscious effort doesn't it? I'm striving harder for that now too.

Thanks. Have a great Thursday.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


Thanks for stopping by. It's always fun to meet new people.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


Loyalty, helping even when it's inconvenient... yes, those are great things. It sounds like your friends are lucky to have you. :)

Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by. I love to meet new people.

Have a lovely Thursday,
Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...

Lisa Notes,

Hello! How fun to hear from you again. :)

Friendships near or far are a great gift, aren't they? Yes, I agree.

Have a great Thursday.


Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Cheryl. Yes, that unwrapping of our lives is beautiful, scary and vital.

Thanks for joining in.

Jennifer Dougan

cabinart said...

Great photos, and I wish I could go on the drive to get there.

Food, food, food! 8-)

Honesty is one of the most important traits to me in friendship - real honesty, not flattery, and no "white lies" either.

Humor also is something I value highly in friendship.

Jennifer Dougan said...

Jana (Cabinart),
You would have loved the winding drive down to the river, with bluffs, trees, fall colors just starting, and eagles high.

Yes, the food...

Honesty, yes, and sincerity. Humor... what if I am the main person who laughs at my jokes? Does that count? There is lots of laughter with me, but mostly at me. My family, friends and teens grin in anticipation at me trying to tell a ajoke.

Jennifer Dougan