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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 Godโ€™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 siblingsโ€™ 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,
byโ€ฆ

  • Choosing to listen often, and speak
    when needed.

  • Choosing to love you unconditionally.

  • Choosing to be transparent and
    vulnerable.

Deep caring friendships in todayโ€™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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. 
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16 Comments

  1. Elizabeth on September 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    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 youโ€™re at in life?

  2. AmyAlves on September 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    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

  3. Jennifer Dougan on September 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    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. ๐Ÿ™‚ And in people too…

    Have a great Wednesday!

    Jennifer
    jenniferdougan.com

  4. Jennifer Dougan on September 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Elizabeth, I felt that was a vague comment even as I was typing it on your screen, and even tweaked it once there. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Jennifer
    jenniferdougan.com

  5. Unknown on September 12, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    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.

  6. Nikki @ Simplystriving on September 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    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!

  7. Ramblings by Carol Nuckols on September 13, 2012 at 12:26 am

    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.

  8. Lisa notes... on September 13, 2012 at 2:26 am

    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.

  9. Cheryl Barker on September 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm

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

  10. Jennifer Dougan on September 13, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Mary Beth,

    Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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
    jenniferdougan.com

  11. Jennifer Dougan on September 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Nikki,

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

    Jennifer Dougan
    jenniferdougan.com

  12. Jennifer Dougan on September 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Carol,

    Loyalty, helping even when it's inconvenient… yes, those are great things. It sounds like your friends are lucky to have you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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

    Have a lovely Thursday,
    Jennifer Dougan
    jenniferdougan.com

  13. Jennifer Dougan on September 13, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Lisa Notes,

    Hello! How fun to hear from you again. ๐Ÿ™‚

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

    Have a great Thursday.

    Jennifer
    jenniferdougan.com

  14. Jennifer Dougan on September 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm

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

    Thanks for joining in.

    Jennifer Dougan
    jenniferdougan.com

  15. cabinart on September 17, 2012 at 6:02 am

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

    Food, food, food! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    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.

  16. Jennifer Dougan on September 18, 2012 at 2:21 am

    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
    jenniferdougan.com

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