by Cherri Walston

Friendship is one of the many blessings God has given each one of us. I am so grateful for the lasting friendships I have cultivated through the years. As women, we know that true friendship is a sacred commodity. This is a relationship that is to be cherished and revered for a lifetime. We’ve experienced friendships that have come and gone because of misunderstandings, differences in lifestyles, spiritual or personal growth. For whatever reasons, they have left a permanent mark on our hearts of what true friendship really is.

I am known to be a very outgoing person and can interact with people from various cultures and backgrounds. I believe this is one of the many gifts God has bestowed upon me. I say this with great humbleness: as a child I was very shy and reserved. During my early years, I longed for friends. I wanted people to accept and like me. Even in high school, I felt like an outcast because I wasn’t chosen to be in what I thought was the “In” group.

Consequently, this had a negative affect on my self-esteem. I placed little value on myself. My self-worth was overshadowed by the quantity of relationships versus the quality of true friendships. As I matured, I learned to filter through those relationships that weren’t holding me up in the best light. Sometimes that meant I had to light the path on my own.

Self-acceptance our elite, and not so elite, society would have you believe that it is about who you know or who you are connected to. There is nothing wrong with having well-known friends or being in the circle of connected people. However, it becomes a problem when your self-worth is based on whom you know.

Be you – love you! Wherever you think you aren’t in life yet, should never be an indication of where you are headed. Accept your shortcomings, mistakes; accept that some people won’t like you and some you don’t need to be connected to anyway. You can receive all the accolades you can stand, but until you can accept and love yourself, they are only a clanging cymbal.

Quality not quantity networking is one of the hottest concepts in building relationships in the professional and entrepreneurial world. We are taught to meet and connect with as many individuals as we can. Whether it is to find a new career/job, build your business or build future relationships down the road.

When I was starting my career in training and development and my business as a coach, I was meeting people and collecting a lot of business cards. I would have a handful of cards, but no connections that related to my specific needs. I soon realized that the quantity of cards never measured up to the value of networking. I quickly learned that I needed to position myself where my target audience gathered; a place that supported my vision. Many times that meant a smaller and more intimate gathering.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes we enter into relationships the same way? We get sucked into a lot of drama and no substance. Then we scratch our heads trying to figure out how we got ourselves into this situation. You will later realize that sometimes less is more. For me, a quality relationship whether it is personal/professional is one based on character, excellence, and standards I set for my own life. Not perfection, but one of value that adds to not distracts from.

There is joy in being your own best friend. A true friend is someone who accepts you as you are, feels those fears and anxieties with you, and sees your limitations. A true friend will celebrate you, cry with you, and reason with you for your own good. I can truly say that I have a small, yet valuable set of sister friends who have helped me to be the best I can be. However, I am learning to be my own best friend too.

When I feel like I’m not where I need to be, I smile and remember where I came from. When I fear stepping out of my comfort zone, I feel the fear and say, “go for it girl”. And when I am confronted with my limitations, I tell myself to do what I can. A way will be made because God never fails. I find pure joy in laughing at my quirkiness, the silly things I say and do. When you become comfortable with yourself, you’ll realize you don’t need a crowd to feel good.

Just be YOU!

You are your own best friend!

Meditation: A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

You will succeed because Jesus loves You!

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