Friendships. Are you satisfied with yours? It has been my experience while working in women’s ministries, that a lot of women seem very unhappy in their friendships.
If I asked you with whom do you like to hang out, what would be your answer? Who are your best friends? What do you like to do with them? What do you like about that person? What does your friendship with that person do for YOU? Or better yet, what is the friendship doing for HER? Are you benefiting from each other?
Do you have friends to hang out with and just be yourself? Can you just laugh and speak your mind? Or are you guarded, appearing shallow and afraid to share your thoughts?
Do you shy away from large groups of women? Or do you like to “hide” in a large group of women because you’re afraid to be in a one-on-one friendship? Are you afraid of being real? Do you think that if your friends really know you, they won’t want to be friends with you?
Do you long to have better friendships? Are your friendships real or are they shallow and “surface-y”? (Hmmmm…That IS a word, right?! Oh well. You’ll have to understand that I’m good at making up my own words. Ha!)
How can we have good friendships with other women? Does the Word of God talk about this?
When thinking about what to write for my next article, I began to feel directed to the topic of friendships among women.
Friendships are a very important part of our life. Some are casual, some close, and still others more intimate. We all long to have at least one friend with whom we can be real.
George Eliot wrote:
“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
I love that quote. Mr. Eliot knew what he was talking about.
First let me tell you a little about myself. Growing up, I had close friends for seasons in my life. My father was a preacher, so I lived in four different towns growing up. I would develop good friendships with a few girls in most of those places, but then after moving away, most of those friendships would dwindle away and new ones would develop.
Then in High School I became friends with a girl who has remained my best friend for all these years. We have had a special relationship that has developed more and more special.
We both had three children each, who were close in age to each other. For many years, we lived in the same town and went to the same church. We shared so much together. For years, we had one day a week in which we would go shopping, take craft classes together, and go to lunch. We made this a priority – we made sure that unless our children were sick or our husband off work, we did it.
We no longer live close to each other, but we still make the effort to be together as often as possible. We schedule visits to each others homes. We schedule long phone chats. We text back and forth. We are really and truly more like sisters. She is the sister I never had. I thank God for her!
Because of this relationship, people have asked us how did it happen, saying how unusual it is and how blessed we are. It began to sink in to both of us how truly rare it is. It gave me pause for thought. Hmmm…how DID it happen?
So let me share with you a little of what I know about good friendships, how to acquire and maintain them and be a great friend yourself.
Some women have said that they can’t seem to get a friendship like that. They say that women aren’t that friendly to them. Or if they thought they were getting a close friend, invariably the friend would suddenly distance themselves, or break a trust, or shut them out of the “circle”, or move away.
Some women have been so hurt by their friends, that they argue repeatedly with this little voice that says, “Don’t build new friendships – life has a demolition crew around every corner!”
But we can’t be that way. We have to be brave, vulnerable and trust again. Real friendship is resilient, being made strong by commitment, creativity, caring and sharing.
I believe that in order to have a friend, we have to make ourselves friendly. We can’t sit over on the sidelines watching and hoping that someone will come over and become our best friend. Why would anyone want to establish a relationship with someone who looks dejected, bored, and having a major “pity party”? We have to make the first step.
Then we have to realize that not everyone we try to establish a friendship with is going to “click”. So we must remember to not take things personally and get our feelings hurt, but get up and move on to another one. Certainly life’s experiences, chemistry, etc., go into making close friendships. And usually close friendships are not developed over night. They grow in time.
In order for this to happen, you must choose to spend time together. Go shopping, take a craft class, or go out to eat together. Find out what interests you have in common.
In getting to know this person better, most likely there will come a time in which you may become irritated or hurt by something they say or do. In this, you must be forgiving. See their heart. Think the best of them. Learn to let go of hurts. Be powerful, not pitiful.
There are 7 things from Proverbs 3 and 4 I believe will make us the friend we need to be. If we attain these 7 things, then we will attract great friends.
For illustration purposes, I’m going to call them by name as if they were friends. Let me introduce you to them.
Lady Love – She shows love to all her other lady friends, always thinking of them, not always thinking of herself and what someone did to her.
Lady Loyalty –She is always loyal to others, never breaking their trust. She keeps a closed mouth when told things in confidence! This is a “biggy”!
& 4. Lady Wisdom and Madame Insight – They go hand in hand together. Proverbs 3 says that friendship with them is worth far more than money in the bank, better than a big salary, and nothing you could wish for holds a candle to them. They offer long life, their manner is beautiful, their lives wonderfully complete. Who wouldn’t want them for a friend?
Madame Understanding – Of course, we get this from God. In Proverbs 4, it says that understanding will make our life glorious, she will garland our life with grace, make our days beautiful, and add years to our life. Who would not want to be friends with her?
& 7. Lady Clear Thinking and Madame Common Sense – They also go hand in hand. Proverbs 3 also says that they will keep your soul (mind, will and emotions) alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive, you’ll have safety, sleep well at night, have no need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, because God will be right there with you if these ladies are with you!
One added bit of advice from Proverbs 4:23 – 24: “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.”
Ultimately, God is the best friend we can have and best example of a friend. He is always there for us, never fails us, always loves us, and always does good things for us. Earthly friends may fail us, but He never does!
If we concentrate on being the kind of friend we wish we had, then we’ll attract those kinds of friendships. And when life brings on changes in those friends’ lives, we need to “go with the flow” and be understanding. If we will refrain from concentrating on “our hurt”, whining about how they are treating us, be kind and loving and overlook their faults, be there for them when they want us and need us, the friendship will thrive!
Take the risk! Get out of your comfort zone. Open up with other women. Also be a good listener. Friendships go both ways. Remember to not make the friendship only about yourself. Take down the walls. You may be pleasantly surprised. It’s worth it.
The Miracle of Friendship
There’s a miracle called friendship
That dwells within the heart,
And you don’t know how it happens
Or how it gets its start…
But the happiness it brings you
Always gives a special lift,
And you realize that friendship
Is God’s most precious gift!