Monday, July 30, 2012

With Friends Like These . . .

"Men use care in purchasing a horse and are neglectful in choosing friends."
 - John Muir

I've been pondering this post for a while. It might be a little controversial, and I really hate conflict. But when I get an idea stuck in my head, I have to go with it. So here goes.

Recently, I posted a list of friend types every girl needs. If you missed it, you can read my list here. Then I discovered that there is another list in my head - the list of friend types every girl should handle with care. I'm not advocating cleaning out your friend list on Facebook or editing the contacts app on your iPhone. But if one of these types is in your circle, a little insight can go a long way.

  • The Victim - this is the one whose life is always awful. Nothing ever goes right, and it's never her fault. There is never a silver lining to the dark clouds. The whole world hates her, and she is very quick to tell you about it. 
    • Why is this a friend to handle with caution? She has the ability to bring down everyone within hearing distance! Her view of life can be a complete drain on your joy. Extensive time with this friend will wear you down emotionally. 
    • My advice - spend time together sparingly and in small doses.  

  • The Perfect One - have you met her? She's the always happy, always put together, "everything is roses" friend. Nothing is ever bad, and she never makes mistakes. This lovely lady just can't be real with those around her. She can't admit that she is a real person with issues, baggage, and bad hair days. 
    • Why be wary with this lady? She can really make an impact on your self-worth. Since the image she presents isn't real, measuring up is impossible. Feeling like you don't cut it will wear down your spirit and cause you to doubt yourself and your abilities.
    • My advice - filter all she says and does through the knowledge that it's not real. She's like the pictures of models in magazines - lovely, but totally airbrushed.

  • The Complainer -She's a wonderful lady until she opens her mouth. Everything is wrong. Her husband is stupid, her kids are demons, and her job is awful. She's not blaming anyone - just venting. All the time!
    • Why is her outlook a problem? We all need to vent  from time to time. And having friends to vent to is one of life's sweet joys. But the constant venting can wear you down! Not being able to stop and smell the roses will exhaust you and will color the way you look at your own life. 
    • My advice - after time with this friend, sit down and list all your blessings. Remind yourself of all the positives in  your life.

  • The Anchor -This friend means well. She really does. But her concern for you leaving her behind is causing issues between you. You want to lose weight, she offers you cake and cookies. She doesn't intend to sabotage you. But subconsciously, she worries that if you get skinny, you will leave her behind for new friends. You want to go back to school and get your degree. She tells you all the reasons school won't fit into your life. She fears that if you get a degree, you won't want to be friends with her anymore.
    • Why worry about this one? Her heart isn't evil. She most likely doesn't even realize what she's doing. Her cautions will even sound completely valid. But she could keep you from becoming all that God has planned for you to be!
    • My advice - realize her fears for what they are. Reassure her that your friendship matters and that you will do all you can to foster it.

  • The Bully -This one really gets me stirred up. This "friend" always knows better. Everything you do/say/wear can be improved simply by listening to her. She knows better than you how to raise your kids, decorate your house, and deal with your husband. And every piece of advice is unsolicited. This friend may be hard to detect. Usually, their advice is cloaked in "girl talk" - just two girls talking about normal girl topics. But after she goes home, you realize that the whole time  you were talking, she was criticizing you!
    • Why be alert with this one? Being constantly critiqued will wear down your spirit! Having that critique come disguised as friendship, can cut to the core. 
    • My advice - stand up for yourself! You don't have to take the criticism. If you didn't ask for input, you certainly don't have to stand there and take it. Let the Bully know that you have it under control and that if you need help, you will ask. Until then, thanks but no thanks.

So now what? I've given you my list. What do I hope you will do with it?

First, I would love to hear your thoughts. Did I miss a type to be wary of? Did I overstep with this list? Did I miss a danger of one of these friendships?

Second, as you spend time with the ladies in your life, consider the impact they are having on you. How do you feel after they leave? Are you encouraged or drained? Do you feel inspired or dragged down? If time with a friend leaves you feeling discouraged, look for the reason. Is it you? Is it them? What changes do you need to make?

UPDATE - after talking to DH (my best friend, and the string to my kite - I'll elaborate on that one another day), and a fellow blogger (thanks, Susan!), I realize that I left out a very important part of this topic. What if one of the types I listed hits a little close to home? What if I just described you?

First off, to my wonderful friends, I didn't have any one person specifically in mind as I typed this. This list is based on lots of different women who have crossed my path during my lifetime.

Second, I have been these types myself!  I know the dangers of these types of friends because I have ruined friendships with these character traits myself.

So if you see yourself in my list, please know that you are not alone. I've been there. The good news is that we don't have to stay there!! God can change us. We must acknowledge our need and ask for His help. He is faithful to complete the work He has started in us.

    Linking this post up with Covered In Grace.


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