SEPTEMBER IS FRIENDSHIP MONTH for REAL WOMEN with blogs, Dear Grace videos, and testimonies
“A true friend is one who is walking in, when everyone else is walking out.” -Unknown, but very true
Friendship has a wide variety of meanings today, from casual to serious. Over time, God has given me some helpful insights to keep my relationships in the right place of priority and taught me what a healthy, real friend is.
Place of Priority
After Jesus, my very best friend is my husband, Mark, which is discussed in our book “Real Marriage: The truth about sex, friendship, and life together.” We have always enjoyed being around each other, but there were years of our marriage that we neglected to work on our friendship and unfortunately became distant emotionally. We allowed the busyness of life to crowd in and desperately needed to take time and energy to invest in our marriage relationship as Song of Solomon says, “This is my beloved, and this is my friend.” (5:16) After repenting and reorienting our priorities, a healthy and fun friendship has been rebuilt. We realized that doing life together, with the good and the hard stuff, is easier when we are moving forward together as friends.
If you aren’t married or already have a good friendship with your husband first, then what does a godly friendship look like with other women? As defined in Webster’s dictionary, a friend is “one attached to another by affection or esteem.” This definition is so general that it’s not helpful! The Bible gives us a richer meaning of friendship, for example:
- “Friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him.” Psalm 25:14
- “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (Jesus) John 15:14
- “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
- “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” Job 6:14
- “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
- “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6
- “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” Proverbs 27:9
I don’t think when we click on a social media “friend” button we are looking for this Biblical depth of relationship, which sadly confuses the definition. We call people friends that we wouldn’t trust to water our plants let alone hold private information sacred and be emotionally present for us. Before we call someone a friend these are important questions to think about:
- Do you put Jesus in the place of best friend? Do you spend time with Him, talk/pray with Him, listen to Him, cry with Him, laugh with Him? Do you follow His commands, knowing that He loves you, created you and knows what is best for you?
- Are you kind to your friends to build them up, or critical of your friends to tear them down?
- Do you have tons of surface “friends” but not anyone you trust and talk to about real life? Are you able to share your pain and wounds with your friends, and know they won’t turn them against you like an enemy?
- Do any of your friendships make your heart glad when they give you counsel? Do your friends help you grow in your friendship with Christ?
- If you are married does your husband approve of your girlfriends (and do you approve of his guy friends), or does he think they are a bad influence on you?
- Do they hold your confidence and prove to be trustworthy? Is it mutual?
I’m sorry if it feels lonely all of a sudden after answering those questions. They are not easy to answer honestly, but they are important to think through in order to be a healthy person yourself and a healthy friend to others. 1 Cor, 15:33 (NIV) warns us, “ Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” If we find ourselves drawn to foolish people and can’t or don’t follow Jesus while around them, then they aren’t friends. We can minister to them if we are strong enough, but we cannot entrust ourselves to them as a friend.
I have been in both harmful and helpful relationships with women throughout my life. I have experienced betrayal at a level I didn’t know was possible to live through. I have experienced loyalty in the midst of hardship that I didn’t know existed. I’m not a perfect friend, but my parents wonderfully taught me how to be a loyal, loving friend. Unfortunately I lacked discernment, which lead to getting taken advantage of and being used because I didn’t understand how evil and cruel women could be to each other. Yes I said it, women can be brutal to each other, even ones that say they are Christians (but they aren’t displaying the fruit of the Spirit). Through all of these experiences, there were times when it was literally me and Jesus because He was the only One I could trust. Did it feel lonely? Yes, but it taught me to lean into His Word and His love. It taught me how to be a better friend and not treat others the way they treated me. It taught me to forgive and pray for them. When I needed advice, it taught me how to pray and listen to the Holy Spirit’s wisdom first rather than just calling someone else for their opinion. It taught me to be more discerning, take relationships slowly, not be overly needy, and build trust patiently over time. The fruit on the other side of these seasons was incredible. Trusting God to bring and help me have godly friends has been so rewarding! If you haven’t experienced “real friendships” there is hope as you ask God to heal you, give you discernment, and bring those people in your life.