My #1 Secret for Cultivating Enduring Friendships {+Never Unfriended Book Review}

A Christian Girl's Guide to Cultivating Enduring Friendships. Today I’m spilling my all-time, number-one, best-of-the-best secret to building friendships with other women that last. But first, a confession… | Best Friends | Friendship Advice | Healthy Friendships | Friendship Secrets

Article by: Sarah Koontz, Founder of Living by Design Ministries

Today I’m spilling my all-time, number-one, best-of-the-best secret to cultivating enduring friendships.

But first, a confession…

I am the only person I know who managed to get all the way through college without one single enduring friendship.

Not. A. One.

Oh, there were a few times when I thought I’d met my match.

I stuck with my best friend from grade school like a fly to paper, but immaturity and competition eventually sucked the life out of that relationship.

There was one bright moment of friendship bliss in my 8th-grade year that fizzled, sputtered, and died before I stepped foot in high school.

And my best friend from college was my rock for a season, but we are now as distant as the thousands of miles that separate us.

My early twenties weren’t much better.

Every time I developed a deep connection with another woman, she quickly packed her belongings and moved far, far away.

SIX painful times in less than a decade, I said goodbye to beautiful women I hoped would become my enduring friends.

Yes, we stay in touch through Facebook and the occasional phone call,  but it’s just not the same.

A Christian Girl's Guide to Cultivating Enduring Friendships. Today I’m spilling my all-time, number-one, best-of-the-best secret to building friendships with other women that last. But first, a confession… | Best Friends | Friendship Advice | Healthy Friendships | Friendship Secrets

When you’re tempted to give up.

By my mid-twenties I was convinced that I’d become Wile E. Coyote and cultivating enduring friendship was my Roadrunner.

All of my best plans, schemes, and brilliant ideas ended in failure.

The temptation to hide in a hole and never, ever come out was strong.

I'd become Wile E. Coyote and friendship was my Road Runner. My best efforts ended in failure! Click to Tweet

Yet, a lifetime of Bible study taught me the importance of cultivating enduring friendship:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“Iron sharpens iron; so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

In my loneliness and pain, I cried out to Jesus—the friend who sticks closer than a brother—and asked Him to show me a better way.

Enter the all-time, number-one, best-of-the-best friendship secret I’ve ever learned!

A Christian Girl's Guide to Cultivating Enduring Friendships. Today I’m spilling my all-time, number-one, best-of-the-best secret to building friendships with other women that last. But first, a confession… | Best Friends | Friendship Advice | Healthy Friendships | Friendship Secrets

But first, an illustration.

Imagine with me that you are planning a family road-trip to Disneyland, The Happiest Place on Earth (or more recently, The Place Where Dreams Come True).

You’ve done your research and discovered that it is a 1,631.4 mile drive from your home in South Dakota.

Ok, so I’m obviously the one planning the trip here. So let’s  just imagine that you are helping me…

We’ve got two vehicles to choose from.

The first is a rusty old Volkswagen van that has spent the last decade “aging” in a nearby pasture. We put a couple of gallons of gas and a liter of oil in it and pray for the best. By some miracle, the manual transition actually starts! The tires are low and teenagers filled the back end with rocks a few summers back, but the rusty old VW manages the 4.5 mile drive home without any catastrophic failures. We even managed to hit 25 miles per hour at one point.

The second option is a 10-year-old Chrysler minivan. It’s not new, but it is well cared for. It’s recently had a full maintenance check and passed with flying colors. The tires are about 6-months old and it gets a smooth 22 mpg on the highway. It has a built-in media center for the kiddos and the air conditioning and cruise control make for comfortable driving. The very best feature of this van is the stow-and-go seating which opens up lots of room for luggage, snacks, and toys.

Which vehicle should we choose?

It’s a no-brainer, right? The Chrysler Minivan all the way!

So what does this illustration have to do with cultivating enduring friendships?

I’m glad you asked…

If we want to make it to The Place Where All Our Friendship Dreams Come True, we must choose the right vehicle for the journey.

A Christian Girl's Guide to Cultivating Enduring Friendships. Today I’m spilling my all-time, number-one, best-of-the-best secret to building friendships with other women that last. But first, a confession… | Best Friends | Friendship Advice | Healthy Friendships | Christian Friendships

Healing from Broken Friendships of the Past

Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I looked in the mirror and all I could see was a beat up old Volkswagen.

A lifetime of broken relationships and painful separations followed by a few years “out to pasture” rusted my exterior and weighed down my heart with stones of regret and resentment.

I was not fit for friendship.
I lacked resilience.
I needed a complete overhaul.

In the real world, there’s no way to transform a VW van into a Chrysler minivan.

Thankfully, God isn’t limited by the laws of nature!

When we invite Jesus Christ into our rusty, broken-down heart, He transforms us into something vibrant and new.

The love of Jesus fills us up in a way that no human ever could and gives us the resilience we need to endure the “long-haul” of friendship.

I learned this lesson young, but I didn’t start living this lesson until the day I decided to become the kind of friend I longed to have.

Jesus Christ transforms the rusty, broken-down pieces of our heart into something new. Click to Tweet

A Christian Girl's Guide to Cultivating Enduring Friendships. Today I’m spilling my all-time, number-one, best-of-the-best secret to building friendships with other women that last. But first, a confession… | Best Friends | Friendship Advice | Healthy Friendships | Christian Friendships

How To Prepare Your Heart for Friendship

Preparing your heart for friendship is eerily similar to preparing for a long road-trip.

First, you must make sure your heart is in tip-top shape and your tank is full of gas.  Jesus is the only one who can heal our hearts and fill our tanks! He supplies all of our needs so that we can selflessly serve our friends without expecting anything in return.

Second, you need to plan your route and schedule lots of pit stops along the way.  Friendship is exhausting and there are no shortcuts. Make sure you are prepared for the construction zones and detours that will inevitably waste gas and cause delays.

Third, when planning a family road-trip, it’s best to lower the expectations of your littlest passengers (because, inevitably, something will go wrong).  Unrealistic expectations are the most dangerous cargo we carry into our friendships.  Offload those unnecessary expectations before you back out of the driveway,  and you will be well on your way to cultivating enduring friendships.

Unrealistic expectations are the most dangerous cargo we carry into our friendships Click to Tweet

Finally, the best road-trip memories are often made “on the road,” not “at the destination.” Even though your heart craves the intimacy that only the truest friendships can provide, it’s important to enjoy the journey and recognize that very few friendships  make it to The Magic Kingdom. If you fail to enjoy the journey, you will miss the beauty of the kind of friendships that are only meant to last a season.

A Christian Girl's Guide to Cultivating Enduring Friendships. Today I’m spilling my all-time, number-one, best-of-the-best secret to building friendships with other women that last. But first, a confession… | Best Friends | Friendship Advice | Healthy Friendships | Friendship Secrets

So, what’s the big secret?

I know you’ve been patiently waiting for my all-time, number-one, best-of-the-best secret to cultivating enduring friendships.

So here it is…

Jesus Christ is the only friend who is capable of meeting all of our needs.  His love empowers us to love others, without expectation or reservation. And people love being around people who love them—unconditionally and unreservedly.

And that is the secret to lasting friendship!

People love being around people who love them—unconditionally and unreservedly. Click to Tweet

After many failed attempts,  I finally reeled in a whopper of a best friend.

She refused to let me stuff her and mount her on my wall, and in the process taught me that the best friends are the ones you catch and release.

I love her with all my might, but I know that she is not mine to keep. 

I will treasure her for as long as God allows us to swim side-by-side in the school of life.

Today’s blog post was inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker’s new book Never Unfriended.  If you’ve been burned by friendship more times than you can remember, this book is for you. If you feel like Wile E. Coyote and friendship is your Road Runner, this book is for you. If you want to learn how to be the kind of person capable of cultivating enduring friendships, this book is for you.

Lisa-Jo’s unpretentious manner and humorous antics immediately put readers at ease.  Her writing style is casual and comforting, like a warm cup of cocoa topped with whipped cream.  If I could sum this book up in one sentence, I would say it’s the golden rule empowered by the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.  He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother, who heals our wounds, and teaches us to love others with a selfless love. This kind of selfless love is the key to building successful and lasting friendships.  CLICK HERE to learn more {and download free sample chapters}.

A review copy of this book was provided by B&H Publishing in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own.  

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About the Author: Sarah Koontz

About the Author: Sarah Koontz

Sarah Koontz is the founder of Living by Design Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to deliver free Bible Studies to inboxes around the world. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah and her husband Ryan live on thirteen acres in the heart of the Black Hills, SD. They have two beautiful daughters, a rowdy flock of chickens, and a house full of foster kittens. Sarah is an avid gardener, a faithful coffee drinker, lover of one-pot-dinners, an unexpected homeschooler, and a Dallas Seminary student.

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