A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
When my husband and I got married, we did premarital counseling at church. The pastor quickly exposed the fact that my extrovert husband gains energy and joy from social gatherings. I, on the other hand, am an introvert, and I reenergize and refuel from alone time. Not only did I have to recognize this in marriage, but I have realized I had taken this fact too far in friendships.
I grew up taking friendships for granted and really not understanding the benefit of the ladies God placed in my life. I wasn't saved, and I used friendships for my benefit. If it took too much work, I wasn't interested in maintaining the relationship. To be honest, I was popular in worldly terms in high school and college, but I kept people at arm's length. I liked to have many friends on a surface level, especially as I grew older and got busier. I always protected that alone time that I craved and idolized.
When I became a Christian at 21, I started to realize my sinfulness in friendships. I was selfish and me oriented. I didn't invest in others as I should and was alone too much. It was and continues to be a growing process, but I have realized, especially as a stay at home mom, the need for Christian women to invest in the lives of some good, close, godly friends.
I have made huge gains in this area these past couple of years. It took a friend calling me up last year and point blank telling me that I was a little intimidating to approach, but that she really wanted to be a friend with me on a deeper level. I had been told multiple times I seemed aloof, intimidating, or even "snobby", and though I liked to think people had misinterpreted my natural tendency to be an introvert, I knew that wasn't entirely the reason. I resolved to correct my sinful attitude regarding my friendships and to invest in some close, godly women. When there was a season that they needed more of me than I was getting in return, that would be okay. When they needed to chat at an inconvenient hour once in awhile, that would be okay. I would be mindful of how I could invest in and minister to them as sisters in Christ and friends.
The result has been a richer, deeper relationship than I thought I could have with other ladies. The joy I feel at seeing these ladies, praying for them, sharing struggles with them and being accountable to them is amazing. Recently, I told some friends of my desire to have a core group of Christian women to know better and to meet with regularly. Every single woman responded with relief that I said it first and that she wanted the same thing. So many Christian ladies are lonely and worn out, needing encouragement and friends.
We live in a society that teaches us to be strong, to compete with other women, and to act like we have it all together (if you let your guard down, you'll be hurt). How refreshing to know that God wants us to give of ourselves and love other women with Christ's love. He wants us to be real, confess our sin to one another and to have godly examples who will admonish and encourage us. Yes, there will be times when they disappoint me, hurt my feelings or sin against me; but I know I will sadly do this too. A deep, godly friendship will repent, reconcile and move forward in forgiveness--becoming stronger as we grow in the likeness of Christ together.
I know not every woman struggles with this. Some people need to actually spend LESS time investing in friendships and more time prioritizing God, husband and kids. If you are like me, though, I urge you to step out of your selfish comfort zone and identify some women whom you would like to know better. Get on the phone, schedule some talks with them and start investing in them. God will bless you as you consider others better than yourself!
Do you make time to invest in friendship with other godly women?
Do you have friends with whom you are real but who spur you on in godliness?
Do you have women in your life who you are discipling and women in your life who mentor you?
Do you pray for friends--real, invested prayers (the kind where you rejoice when they do and mourn with them in grief)?