The Open Arms Friendship

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Friendships go through seasons. When we first moved to Texas, it was the season of discovery. I learned the pain of letting go of the constant presence of my North Carolina friends. I learned the challenge of looking for friends and the joy of finding them. 

I also learned that different regions of the U.S. have unique friendship practices. In western North Carolina, the community was tight. People always invited us to their homes. We were connected, we were family and we were together, come what may. I refuse to think that’s small town mentality because I experienced this in one of the largest cities in the world (Rio de Janeiro). What I experienced during my North Carolina years was called genuine friendship. 

Making and maintaining friendships in Texas has helped me grow. I’ve experienced group related friendships. What happens is that the friendship endures until the end of the group meetings. If you are out of the group, you are out of luck. It’s up to individuals to find and maintain friendships that exist outside of such group dynamic. 

Because of the diversity of our area, I learned that someone’s ethnicity may play a role when it comes to how much time they can dedicate to our friendship. Some women are committed to their families, extended families and tribes (a real tribe from their country of origin). Once I realized that, I figured out that their social calendar was completely full. These women are professionals also so you can see how there is little time to maintain friendships outside those circles. 

I remember approaching a lady and asking her out to lunch. She told me she had no time to have lunch with me. Rejection hurts and yet, I learned a lot about that particular group of women. They are devoted to God, family, career and tribe. There isn't a lot of extra time for people outside of those circles. 

All of these lessons led me to what i call the "open arms" approach to friendships. I keep my arms open to embrace any friend who wants me in her life. If the friendship is toxic, I pray that God will gracefully release me from it. If the friendship is group based, I let it go when the time is up. If the friend finds its way to my life with open arms of her own, that’s when I know I have a keeper.

I used to feel sad about any friendship that wasn’t an open arms friendship. Once I learned to identify which is which, life has been easier. I’m okay with every friend that comes my way. I know that if a friend wants to be in my life, they will be. I also know that group friendships have a place in life. The important thing is that I am only responsible for my own character. 

I am determined to be a good friend, no matter what type of friend walk into my life. 

My appreciation for open arms friendships grow more each day.

How have you faced your friendships? Take a look at your arms. Are they open or closed?