I make no apologies for the fact that I find the Bible to be a really dope book. For all of the super churchy folks reading this, while that might not be the way that you would describe it, the reason why I'm intentional about presenting the Good Book in this fashion is because, unfortunately, when a lot of people think about the Bible, it's strictly from a religious—and not the James 1:27 kind of religious—perspective. Yet the older and prayerfully wiser that I get, one of my favorite things about it is how practical it is. How timeless it is when it comes to its practicality as well.
Take friendship, for example. While a lot of us probably don't think about referencing the Bible when it comes to this kind of relationship, the Word actually speaks pretty fondly—and clearly—about it. While there are a few more verses besides the ones that I am about to share, whether you're wondering how to spiritually approach or spiritually define your friendships, you might just be surprised what opening up a Bible can reveal to you.
1. “Some friends play at friendship, but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.”—Proverbs 18:24(Message)
I've written enough content on toxic families, on this platform alone, to just about last me a lifetime (check out "Why You Should Be Unapologetic About Setting Boundaries With Toxic Family Members", "What If It's Your Parents Who Happen To Be The Narcissists?" and "How To Recover If You Had To 'Raise Your Parents' As A Child"). It's pretty hard to write pieces on such a heavy topic unless you can personally relate. That's why, it actually took me a while, to fully embrace a verse in Scripture like this one. Because, really, if some of your "nearest kin" feel more like enemies than friends, this might not be a verse that you find to be super-duper comforting.
But here's the thing. You know how they say that you can't choose your family, but you can certainly choose your friends? Over the years, there are people who have come into my life who have become, what I call, "love family". We're not connected by blood but man, they have been such a blessing to me. They take me, my heart and my time very seriously (they don't play with any of those things either) and yes, they are closer to me than most of my family is. That's why I wanted to start this particular article off with this Scripture. True friendship feels like healthy kin. That's not an exaggeration. I can personally testify to this very fact.
2. “Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing!”—Proverbs 25:13(Message)
Any time someone comes to me for branding advice, something that I always bring up is the power of consistency. In my opinion, the lack of it has been the downfall of some many creatives because, it's not that they lack talent, it's that they are on one thing one day and something totally different the next. And you know what? Consistency is also something that you should be on the lookout for when it comes to putting a person in the "friend" category of your life as well. A consistent person is someone who can be trusted because a consistent person is someone who is reliable. To be reliable is to be "dependable in achievement, accuracy, honesty, etc." You can depend on them to be honest with you. You can depend on them to do what they say they are going to do. You can depend on them to be the same way (about you) outside of your presence as they are in it.
It took me forever to finally get to a place where I can say, without a shadow of any doubt, that every single friend in my life is a reliable one. And King Solomon was right. When you know—that you know that you know—that your friends can be fully depended upon, no matter what, it tops the coldest glass of water on the hottest day of summer. It really does.
3. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”—Proverbs 27:6(NKJV)
I actually semi-recently wrote, "What A Supportive Friend Actually Does (It's Not Quite What You Think)" with this Scripture in the back of my mind. It takes a really mature person to be able to take this particular verse in, but that's you, right? So, let's go. It's kind of a Ted Talk for another time, but something that I feel is a mini-god for a lot of people is happiness. Now before you freak out, let me explain. Not everything that helps us to grow and get to where we need to in life is going to make us happy. Going to work every day doesn't always make us happy. Paying bills doesn't always make us happy. Staying up late nights to finish up a dream or goal that we have doesn't always make us happy. But doing these things does make life better for us.
That's why I actually loathe the saying, "If you like it, I love it" or hearing about someone telling a friend, who they know is doing something unhealthy or toxic, "Hey, whatever makes you happy". Who cares if it makes them happy if it isn't good or right? I mean, eating ice cream every day makes me happy. It's not healthy for me, though. It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite "dark" quotes that says, "We are all searching for someone whose demons play well with our own." In other words, a lot of us think that a "good friend" is someone who will co-sign on our BS rather than call us out on it.
This Scripture here lets us know that a true friend is probably going to hurt us sometimes with the truth, but the point and purpose of them doing that is so we can become better individuals in the long run. Meanwhile, it's the flatterers (someone who the Bible is absolutely not impressed with—Job 17:5), the tell-them-whatever-they-want-to-hear folks, the ones who don't exhort and hold you accountable (bookmark that, I'm coming right back to it) that you oftentimes have to look out for. The Bible tells us that Judah lied to Christ's face and then kissed Him (Matthew 26). It was one of Christ's disciples, a so-called friend, who played a direct role in His demise.
So yeah, don't be so quick to write off someone who loves you enough to tell you about yourself. At the same time, be cautious about embracing someone who is always telling you whatever you want to hear. Sometimes the one seems like they aren't being your friend is being the best kind of one. And, sometimes, the one you think is your bestie is just a demon in disguise.
4. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”—Proverbs 27:17(NKJV)
This verse basically goes along with what I just said, but there is a bit of a twist to it. This one is a reminder that true friends hold each other accountable and accountability goes a few steps beyond simply not telling someone what they want to hear. When you are accountable in a relationship, one thing that it means is, you're willing to own your own feelings within the dynamic. Another thing that comes with personal accountability is being willing to take responsibility for your actions. In order to do both of those things well, you can't emotionally manipulate, deflect or pass the buck. An accountable friend admits their errors, apologizes when they are wrong and looks for ways to make the friendship better. If the friendship is truly healthy, both people are doing this for one another.
When you put all of this into the context of this particular verse in Scripture, your countenance is everything from your facial expressions and energy that you exude to how you are able to compose yourself. So basically, when the Bible says that a friend sharpens the countenance of another friend, a good friend challenges you to hold yourself accountable, to be your best self, as they support and encourage you along the way. Because, after all, if your friends aren't helping you to evolve as a person…how good of a friend are they?
5. “Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor; for if they fall, the 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(AMPC)
No man is an island. I don't care how introverted (or ambivert-ed) you might be, this is very true. That's why, whenever I hear people say things like, "I don't need any friends", I'm not very convinced. While they might think that portrays confidence, to me, it's more like deep-rooted pain. And that's why I appreciate Scriptures like this one. We need others. They need to be good to us and for us and have our best interest at heart, but humans are designed to be relational. Another thing that's dope about this verse is I like that it says that when two people come together, they will get a reward for their labor. Reward means "something given or received in return or recompense for service, merit, hardship, etc.". Although most of my friends are in fields of work that have absolutely nothing to do with my own, there are times when some of their gifts, skills or connections are able to help me progress and vice versa.
A good friend will do what they can to help you get to the next level, just as you are willing to do the same for them. Not only that but, sometimes the "service" or "hardship" is getting through some tough times in your relationship. When two people are true friends, they see enough value in one another and the friendship to push through it, knowing that, there will be better days; that the pros far outweigh the struggles.
6. “Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul...Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.”—I Samuel 18:1-3(NKJV)
King David was a trip. That's another message for another time. But I do have a lot of respect for Jonathan when it comes to this particular part of Scripture. Although, in the religious world, covenant relationships are oftentimes reserved strictly for marriage, this shows that friends can be in covenant too. A covenant is an agreement, a pledge, a solemn vow between two people that they are—or aren't—going to do something for/to/with one another.
I've got one friend where we're in a covenant when it comes to confidentiality. Meaning, we agreed to be each other's go-to when it comes to even the deepest of secrets or information. Not only that but, no matter what, even if we stop being close friends, we have promised to remain each other's confidant in that way. My godchildren's mother? We made a covenant about my relationship with her kids that, even if we happen to grow apart, I am committed to her babies and she will be consistently encouraging of my being in their lives.
Covenants are good and necessary because they remind us to take what we say very seriously. And when you've got a covenant with a friend who, like Jonathan did for David, loves you like their own soul? That is the kind of friend that you need to hold onto for the long haul because love between two human beings really doesn't get much better than that.
My prayer is that as you read through these, you'll meditate on how your friendships align with these verses. Another practical thing about the Bible is, it provides insights and instructions on how to live our best life. Do your friendships assist you in doing that? If not, they should. Don't take my word for it. The Good Book says so.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
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