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Friends & Friendship

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This article is written by Karissa Tunis For more on this topic, check out the full Friendships or Be My Valentine collection

When I think about what friendship means to me, I have to reflect back upon this past year and what it has taught me. Our family went through something very difficult! But through it all, we learned a lot.

From our experiences, I would say these three things stand out most:

1.) Surround yourself with good friends. Look for people that make you happy, make you laugh, who help when someone is in need, who would never take advantage of you, and who genuinely care. These are the friends worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through. It is so important who we surround ourselves with! Thankfully I chose amazing friends! And when I needed them, they were there for me in big ways.

2.) Pick friends that can teach you something new. I always want to be moving forward in life, and growing as a person in a positive way. I love when I can walk away from a conversation and feel that I improved from it. That I learned something new about life, heard a new tip, found inspiration, or had a good laugh. By picking friends that have dreams, desires and ambitions, they will help me grow and achieve my goals.

3.) The saying is true - “To Have A Good Friend, You Need To Be A Good Friend.”

Picking friends and surrounding myself with good people, I have done well. But, where I need to improve, is being a better friend. This stands out to me especially as I reflect back.

Just over a year ago, and right before Christmas, our lives were turned upside down after our son was attacked by a dog. His injuries were severe and required emergency surgery in the middle of the night, and several days in the hospital.

When my husband, kids and I reflect back on that emotional and very stressful time, we can truly say that our friends were a huge reason we made it through.

I have deep appreciation for so many wonderful people! It honestly brings me to tears when I think about all of their generosity. They truly went out of their way to comfort our family when we needed it most. They never waited for us to ask for anything. They arrived, stood beside us, offered us encouragement, lent a shoulder to cry on, and supported us in any way that they could.

They sent flowers, stuffed animals, and brought in toys to help pass the time for our son who was limited to his hospital bed. And for my 30th birthday, two dear friends showed up at the hospital with cake, and several more came with birthday treats and hospital survival baskets.

When we were finally discharged, it was our daughter’s birthday. A very special friend made one of our daughter’s favorite meals and cupcakes. And others sent delicious meals for days after.

But what truly meant the most was not the items or meals themselves, but the time that people gave.

Whether it was to make us food, or to come sit and talk, or when they showered our other two children with attention, the time that people took out of their busy holiday schedules to be with us and help us, was truly the most meaningful!

After going through this experience, I’m now embarrassed to look back at how I have been a friend. While I would like to consider myself a nice person with good intentions, I think my actions often fell short.

I hate to admit it, but I sometimes have to experience a situation first hand to really grasp the severity of it. In the past when friends had loved ones that were hurt or sick, I may have sent a few kind text messages, maybe made a phone call or sent flowers, but it often stopped there.

Some of it may have been that I wanted to respect their privacy and space. Or maybe I was waiting to hear what they needed. But I now know that often when someone needs help they don't tend to shout it from the roof tops.

I wasn’t asking for people to come to the hospital or to show up with meals. I wasn’t asking for gifts or special visits. But my friends just did it, without being asked, and it meant so so much!

Having felt all of that love and support was truly a wake up call to me! I honestly felt so undeserving of everyone's kindness, and I feel terrible when I think back to times when someone probably needed me and I wasn't there.

I don't know how I can ever thank these special people enough! But I do know that going forward I want to be more like them.

My friends are genuine. They knew me, they knew my heart was breaking, and they showed up to stand beside me at a time when I felt like I would fall.

Now, I want to be someone who others can count on when times are tough. I want to put in the commitment to a friendship so that I know what is happening in their life. I want to recognize when I am needed so that I can step up without an invite.

As things calm down for me and my family, I know it is important to remember these very special people, and these very important lessons.

They say that friends are the family members that you can actually pick. Just be sure you are picking a good one, and that you are being that good friend too!

For more on this topic, check out the full Friendships or Be My Valentine collection

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