I’d like to think I’m a good friend. I certainly want to be a good friend and I think most of us do. Praying for my friends and being fiercely loyal to them comes easily to me. But beyond that, am I really a good friend? Do I anticipate their needs or go out of my way to help them? Do I encourage them and lift them up, share their joys and their sorrows with them?
I have been thinking about this a lot because I have such a friend. In the last year and a half, I have been abundantly blessed by a wonderful friend in my city. In my gratefulness for her and all she has done for me, it has really made me think: do I take being a good friend as seriously as she does? Do I do all I can to help my friends and anticipate their needs? The short answer for me, unfortunately, has been no. I am not nearly as good a friend as I would like to be. But I want to be a better friend, I can improve, so here are some ideas I’ve come up with:
Ways to be a good friend
- Pray for your friends – pray for their husbands, their children, their health, etc. Pray together when possible!
- Don’t just ask ‘how can I help?’ – do something to help without being asked. So often I say “let me know how I can help” and think I’ve done enough. But most people don’t actually answer that question truthfully, because either they don’t know what help they need or they feel guilty asking for it. Rather than wait to be asked for help, just offer a concrete way that you will help and the time you will do it. It’s much harder to turn down when offered that way.
- Anticipate your friends’ needs, before they ask – know your friend’s husband is going to be out of town for work for a week? Invite them over for an evening while he’s out of town. Plan a girl’s night out once her husband is back in town. Know her in-laws are coming to visit and it might be stressful? Drop off fresh flowers and a bottle of wine before they arrive.
- Create a meal calendar and bring them a meal – meal calendars are common when someone has a baby, which is a huge help, keep that up. But what about when a mom is incredibly sick in her first trimester? I almost need more help getting through the first trimester than when I have a newborn. For my current pregnancy, my friend lined up meals for me during the first trimester, and would sometimes just drop off food for me, unexpectedly, just to keep me and my family eating good food. It was a huge help. What about meal calendars for adoptive families, or families taking in children from foster care? Meal calendars when families have lost a loved one or are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, etc. Bringing a meal to someone in need can be such a huge help!
- Think outside the box – when we dealt with lice recently, my friend offered to help me bring all my laundry to a laundromat and hang out with me there while we knocked out ALL the laundry in just a few hours. While this didn’t work out for me at the time, I was just amazed at her thoughtfulness and her willingness to help me deal with all.the.laundry., possibly infested with lice. She also brought me tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner to combat future lice exposure and chocolate. So thoughtful.
- Help a friend clean – my parents were coming to visit recently, right when I was nearing the end of a terrible first trimester of pregnancy sickness. I was so excited to see them but embarrassed by how dirty my house was. My friend insisted on coming over and spent a day helping me clean my house the day before my parents came. It was humbling to accept such a gift, but it was also such a relief and so wonderful to have help.
- Swap childcare – recently my friend had my husband bring all the children to her farm for the day on a Saturday so I could rest. My husband and children had a great day on the farm and I had a nice, quiet day to myself. Childcare for lots of young children can be expensive, but having a friend who you can easily swap with is such a treat. Swap childcare so you can go to the grocery store without little ones in tow, or to take one sick child to the pediatricians’ instead of dragging them all along, or even for date nights.
- Remember birthdays and anniversaries – maybe a birthday card, Mass card, piece of chocolate, or even just a text. Remembering friends’ birthdays and anniversaries is a small but meaningful way of showing you care.
- Challenge each other in living out our Catholic Faith – don’t be judgey or preachy, but encourage one another in the Faith. Ask how their spiritual journey is going, invite them to more events at Church with you, etc. Call them out when necessary.
- Listen – being a good listener can be hard but try to truly listen to your friends – their needs, fears, troubles. Cry with them in their sorrows and rejoice with them in their gladness.
- Loyalty – be loyal to your friends. Don’t gossip about them, don’t listen to others gossip about them.
I am so thankful for the many wonderful friends I have had throughout my life. Amazing women who have taught me so much about myself, my Faith, and sacrifice. They have also taught me how to be a good friend, and where I need to improve. What a blessing true Christian friendship is!
Are you a good friend? How do you help your friends in need? In what ways have others helped you? I’d love to hear your suggestions!
Deirdre Cooper and her husband live in Tennessee with their six children. She is a public policy analyst for Texas Alliance for Life, one of the leading pro-life organizations in Texas, where she successfully lobbied for the sonogram law, Choose Life license plate, defunding Planned Parenthood, and HB 2. She is also a board member for And Then There Were None Pro-Life Outreach. She enjoys coffee, soccer, home schooling her children and playing board games with her family. The opinions presented here are her own.