We call our friend group the “Fab Five.” (Our husbands came up with this name and it stuck.) Maybe your best friends are called the “Chica’s” or the “Yaya’s” or most likely, you have no name at all.

Our best friends are the trusted ones who cry with us at funerals, dance beside us at weddings, and love us in-between. They know what breaks our heart and what makes us smile. They know about our weaknesses and remarkably, they love us anyway.

God created friendship, not only to meet our emotional needs, but also to serve a greater purpose. He weaves friends together like a fabric to provide strength, structure and stability for our lives. He often sends His love and encouragement through our friends, just when we need it most.

That’s certainly been my experience.

Our group has been friends for over twenty years. We first bonded together when we were new mothers, helping each other survive those busy years. Later on, we shared our kids’ ballgames, chaperoned dances and celebrated graduations together. We’ve helped each other move and supported each other through sickness and grief. Now we share our past memories and brand-new adventures in the “A.C.” (after children).

When we get together, we laugh a lot. Sometimes, we cry. And sometimes, well, we do a little of both.

Though our lives have changed a lot over the years, one thing remains the same: we still need each other.

If you have a special friend group, you understand—there’s just no substitute for sharing life together. Over the years, my precious friends have taught me what being a true friend looks like. And I’m so grateful. I’ve learned that friendships, like gardens, must be nurtured:

To celebrate friendship, I made this list of what my friends have taught me about being a best friend. (Thanks and love to you, Fab 5!)

Best Friends:

1. Accept each other. Best friends accept one another as they are.
2. Cheer each other on. Encouraging a friend to be all God wants them to be is totally free and yet, extraordinarily valuable.
3. Don’t pressure or guilt. Best friends give each other room to make their own choices and even to have other close friends.
4. Forgive, quickly. Best friends aren’t perfect friends. At some point, friends must be willing to both give and receive grace.
5. Are loyal. They only say good things behind your back.
6. Tell the truth: even when it’s not easy.
7. Refuse to compete. Life isn’t one big contest, but some act as if it were. Best friends know playing “one-up” only puts up barriers to the friendship.
8. Stand by each other. A true friend is there–at the hospital, or the graveyard, or even when something wonderful happens. Best friends don’t want each other to laugh, cry or sigh, alone.
9. Refuse to compare. They understand that each life (home, career, interests and family) is supposed to look really different.
10. Are real. Pretending prevents friends from being close. Authenticity draws our hearts together.
11. Pray. Best friends never just say they’ll pray for each other, they actually do it. A praying friend is a very valuable friend, indeed.
12. Treasure one another. True friends are one of the greatest blessings we will ever receive.

Remember that you need your friends and they need you. God is glorified when we love them well. Ask Him to help you become the best friend you can be. Ask God to soften circumstances that might damage your relationships. Ask Him to help you connect more deeply than ever before.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11

Let your friends know how much you appreciate their friendship by sharing this post. Email me to request this handy list of 12 Things Best Friends Do at: hello@maypatterson.com . Send it to encourage your children or grandchildren to love their friends well.