We all crazy deep relationships – those people we can tell our most intimate secrets to and know they still have our backs. We want the type of friend who would take a bullet for us. Unfortunately, few people have relationships like that. Often, that’s because we don’t know how to take our friendships beyond the surface level. How do you move beyond conversations about sports, the weather, or the sickest knew Fall TV show?
Here are three steps I’ve discovered that can help you get beyond surface pretty quickly. It all comes down to preparation. Be prepared for deep relationships and you’ll find yourself developing them more quickly.
1. Prepare to share truth about your life.
Most people who ask you how you’re doing are just being polite. But every now and then, someone comes along who genuinely cares. They want to hear something deeper. You have to be prepared to open up. That means being aware of what’s going on in your life and being willing to share the good and the bad. It doesn’t need to turn into a complaining session. But people actually do care to hear about the bad stuff that’s happening. Be ready to share it.
2. Prepare to hear truth about someone else’s.
But as you open up and others open up to you, what will you do? How will you respond when someone tells you something deep they’re struggling with? Like a loss in the family. Or a lost job. Or a tough sin they’re fighting.
Too often, it’s easy to feel awkward when you hear something like that. But you don’t need to. You just need to be ready to encourage. Have some Scripture knowledge. Have some prayers ready. Have some encouraging stories to tell. Then look to encourage.
Don’t make it trite. Don’t make it an easy cure to their problems. But encourage. Walk through the situation with the person.
3. Prepare to suspend your judgment.
Finally, be ready to offer grace, not judgment. The realer your conversations get, the realer the stories you’ll hear. When you hear about someone’s story of infidelity or the way they’ve cheated other people, you can’t cast accusation. You need to listen with compassion and empathy. That doesn’t mean you excuse or minimize the offense… But there’s no need to add more guilt to the situation.
For some people, this is easy. For others, it’s a struggle. If you struggle, prepare yourself by realizing nobody is above the worst sin out there. Often, we don’t experience the same temptations as others merely because we haven’t had the same opportunities to.
Ask God to give you compassion for people. Develop that love and grace, then see the depths of your relationships begin to grow.