I’ve been thinking about relationships lately…
…And I’ve come to the realization that our surroundings and friendships are really important. We’re all familiar with the saying “Birds of a feather flock together.” But not everyone agrees. After all, I was one who thought it was okay to walk with someone I didn’t totally agree with regarding a lifestyle standpoint. In other words, I used to care less about your past, present, or future as long as when I was with you, we had a good time. But as I grow older and wiser, I simply do not have the time to waste on toxic relationships.
Over the weekend I had dim sum with my friends Su, from Australia and Nemo, from Brooklyn (by way of China.) I met Su last year through blogging, and I’m so glad that I did. Communicating with Su reminds me that there’s a world that exists outside of my very narrow world. There are people in different time zones with different takes on life, and different mindsets. And having a relationship with these people diversified my thinking and my approach to life.
But after breakfast with Su and Nemo, I started to think more about friendships. The saying “You are what you eat” should also have a sister saying: “You are who you surround yourself with.” I’d be lying straight from my teeth if I told you that my relationships throughout the years didn’t shape me to become the woman I am today. Even from the delicate age of 7 years old, this applied. I had a friend, Jane Doe, who my mother absolutely despised. (Yes, despised is appropriate even at age 7.) My mother literally forbade me from attending any of her birthday parties, speaking to her on the phone, etc. At that age, I could not understand why on earth she didn’t want me to be her friend. As a result, our friendship lasted until the 8th grade, but mainly in secret.
My mom didn’t like me hanging with “Jane Doe” because her upbringing was totally in opposition to my upbringing. Jane Doe’s mother had a mentality some may characterize as ‘ghetto.’ Her mother had the meanest attitude in all of the Bronx, and it trickled down all the way to Jane Doe. My mother saw these personalities and didn’t want her daughter around it. But unfortunately, I went to a small Catholic school where you probably graduated with the same classmates from kindergarten. So, yeah, against my mother’s wishes, Jane Doe and I were secretly best friends for about 8 years. And upon entering high school, I brought along all those bad attitudinal personalities I learned from Jane Doe. You can only imagine how difficult it was to start school at a large, private, and very diverse high school on the ‘safer’ part of the Bronx. I quickly held the title of ‘hot head’ and ‘angry black.’ In retrospect, those negative characteristics is largely, in part, a result of my toxic friendship with Jane Doe.
Now coming to my 25th year in life, I’m strategically avoiding toxic relationships, and surrounding myself with those I can positively benefit from. You may think it’s a selfish mentality but I think it’s a smart mentality to have. I not only benefit from those relationships I gain something from; I benefit from relationships I give positively to, as well. Mentorship and younger family members; and those relationships solely reserved for evangelistic opportunities they all benefit me in some kind of way. There’s been a shift in my thinking. I’m no longer concerned as to whether or not I’m offending you. I’m more interested in how you might offend me in the long run by influencing me with characteristics that can’t help me in my God-given assignment.
But you want to know my favorite you of friendships?? Those friends that pray EFFECTIVE prayers for me!
In the story of Daniel in the Bible, King Nebuchadnezzar sought to kill all the wise men in Babylon because no one could interpret his dream. Daniel went to his FRIENDS, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, and they prayed to God in Heaven that God would have mercy on Daniel and the fellows, that they would not perish with the rest of the wise men. (Daniel 2:17-18). Now those are great friends to have! Friends that help you through prayer and not through gossip!
…Friends that push you into your destiny are great friends too. I love those friends that I can talk to, from a business standpoint, who encourage me to go after all my goals and visions. Time waits for no man…. It may appear to move faster for those with darker skin, but I’ll assure you it doesn’t. It’s nice to have friends that remind you that you’re entitled to the same 24 hours as Oprah Winfrey or Warren Buffet.
What kind of friends do you have? Are they the ones that pray for you regarding your secrets, or gossip about you regarding your secrets?
God Bless You x