A Marble Jar Friend

Kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, empathy, honesty, loyalty, acceptance, and trust are all qualities that make a great friend, and we are lucky if one person comes to mind after hearing said traits.

Finding a great, not good, friend is tough, to say the least. Of course, it is not an itemized checklist for a test that can match you with your perfect friend, but rather it is an experience-one in which you participate in different types of friendships until you find a great one. Brene Brown, my favorite if you couldn’t tell, describes building a friendship like a marble jar.

Brown reflected on her daughter’s experiences with finding friends in her book, Daring Greatly. She explains in her daughter’s classroom, there is a marble jar, and every time the class was participating, listening, etc., marbles went in the jar, but when they were misbehaving, marbles were taken out of the jar. Her daughter had come back from school in tears because people she thought were her friends had betrayed her. Brene explained to her daughter, “trust is like a marble jar.” Further explaining that people in our lives do and say things that either add or take away from the marble jar earning or losing a place in our lives, and that trust is built on one marble at a time. 

The concept of trust is critical in a friendship, and that’s why it is often so hard to find a “marble jar friend” because trust is contingent on if you feel safe around the other person. The reasoning goes that if you can add marbles to the marble jar, you can just as easily take them out.

Friendship, as a concept, is an enigma. Compatibility, of course, is important, but what is a friendship when you do not feel loved but instead feel worthless? It is important to feel valued, to feel like the friendship is real, and that spending time together is the highlight of any day. If you have already found your marble jar friend, it is crucial to maintain and value that special bond because No one wants to be in a friendship that doesn't feel like one, and no one wants to be a friend that isn't treated like one, and no one deserves that either.

As said before, the search for a friend is complex, and Brown outlined as best she could the journey to building friendships based on trust. She says, “to share with those who have deserved the right to hear your story takes trust and trust takes work and time.”