My friends and I are pretty close and intentional with our friendship. Every Thursday, we hang out, in the home of one us, to: catch up on one another’s lives, do some bible studying, and sometimes plan our next activity together – maybe volunteering somewhere or just simply going to see a movie like Black Panther in our traditional attires.
One Thursday, we did something unique. While sitting around in the living room, we decided that each person would pick one other person and say something good about what we see in them, specifically how they use their gift, talents or skills to benefit the world around them. Everybody got to pick one person to talk about and when a person was picked, no one else could pick them.
We were all quiet for the first minute, perhaps trying to figure out whom to talk about and then what good exactly we saw in them; how do we benefit from their friendship and what do we see that other people benefit from what they do and who they are.
It is very easy to point out people’s faults, but to dig deep and identify the good things about them? Now that’s a challenge! Even more challenging, is telling them to their face. And for me, paying compliments is not a strong suit.
So the guy who, along with his wife, was hosting us broke the silence. He volunteered to go first and he chose a young lady among us as the person he was going to talk about.
Now, we were six people in the living room that evening. Four ladies and two gentlemen. So we were even in number and it was easy for one person to have someone to talk about, without anyone being left out.
So the male host started. He talked about how this lady valued friendship so much. And we all knew this was true. Whenever she was to give anyone a gift for say a birthday or some other commemoration, she would put so much thought into it that the recipient would feel very special and thought-of. She had a way of making people feel like they were her best friend even though that wasn’t always the case in reality. Her gift was friendship and she gave it away, generously, to those around her, making her world a little warmer.
During and after this ‘eulogy’ you could see the lady’s face blush, and it didn’t help that her skin is white. She replied with a smile and a “Thank You”.
This made me proud. I thought to myself, this is what friends should be doing for each other – building each other up!
So I opted to go next. And I picked the male host, who had just spoken, to talk about. I pointed out that he had a gift of hospitality – taking good care of people. Whenever we came to hang out at his place, he always offered to make each person a cup of tea. And when he did, he made sure to tie the string of the tea bag around the handle of the cup before serving it you so that the whole teabag, including its string, did not completely fall into the hot water – to your inconvenience. He’s always concerned about the convenience of others and so he takes care to ensure that people around him are comfortable. He makes the world around him a comfortable place to live in!
By now the once red-faced lady had turned back to her original colour and she was ready to speak. She picked the lady next to her to talk about. She recounted her experience planning and organizing a baby shower event for the female host and how this lady (sitting beside her) was silently instrumental to the success of that event. She was marveled at how the young lady was willing to be at the background, supporting everyone in their roles, going the extra mile and not wanting to take credit for the many things that turned out fine because of her. She was like a mother who was adept at making the world around her run seamlessly.
By now, you could feel the positivity in the room, and it lifted everyone’s spirit!
The next lady to speak decided she was going to talk about the female host. They had been roommates before the female host got married to the male host; so she knew her quite well – perhaps even better than the rest of us did.
While she was clearing her throat and adjusting in her seat to start speaking about this longtime friend of hers, the longtime friend subtly pointed to me, letting me know that she had picked me to talk about – next!
So, I can’t say that I heard everything that was said about her because, at that time, most of what I could think of is what she would possibly say about me.
But I recall that her friend said she was a good communicator. With her, you knew exactly where you stood. She knew how to tell you the truth – in love – even when it hurt. And it was fitting that she worked in Communications at her job because she’s surely making the world a better place with her skills.
That made my ears perk up all the more to listen to what this great communicator had to say about me since she apparently lets you know exactly how it is and where you stand with her. And what she said made my day! I remember getting home that evening and journaling down the words just so I never forget them.
She said she sees me as a “goody bag” with a lot of gifts inside. I have a “calling” for teaching and I’m able to do that through my various gifts, most especially my writing ability. She finds it always refreshing to talk to me because she comes away with a different and fresh perspective on things, like she’s never thought about before. She said that I had so much wisdom to offer.
Thank God for my black skin at that point!
I was amazed at this because, frankly, I had never really thought of myself as someone who was “refreshing” to talk to. And I wrote down that night that “I really have to step into the shoes other people see me in and fit into them in my mind and estimation too. No need to feel inferior but plenty need to stay humble!”
The last person to speak was the ‘seamless mother’ and she did a good job of highlighting the leadership skills of the lady who had just spoken about the female host. They work together and it is evident in the office that the lady is a people-leader. She mentioned that she not only reads leadership and personal development books, but she applies them to her role as their leader at work. Rarely would you hear people, who report to you, say that they would miss you terribly if you were ever to leave the organization. But this was so in this young lady’s case as highlighted by her co-worker – our seamless mother.
As much as I pride myself in not being too easily influenced by any one person, I must confess that what an environment – our peers – does to us is to gradually shape us into the people we are now and who we become in the future.
Friends are like elevators; they either lift you up or bring you down. So we have to be careful with the people we choose to surround ourselves with. Are they people who not only see the best in you, but are kind-hearted enough to let you know? Whatever expectation your friends have of you is what you usually end up living up to. That’s why it’s highly beneficial to have those who see more in us than we see in ourselves.
That Thursday night, I was proud of my friends and proud of myself too, for having chosen them. They are people I certainly want to keep close to me for a very long time, if not forever. Everyone flourishes in a positive environment and friends who can see the positive in you is the best kind of environment to have.
What we had done that night was to throw down a challenge for each one of us to step up to. We had highlighted one another’s potentials and encouraged one another to live up to them. We had unintentionally charted the course for our future, as a result of our intentional hangout.
Because of all this, it finally made absolute sense to me why people would say things like “show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future”.