Wednesday, June 20, 2012

craving friendships

Women are relational. We crave quality friendships, deep relationships that go beyond the mere superficial. We need friendships that go beyond the fluff .

For years I prayed for quality friendships with women of faith. I felt a huge vacancy that was meant to be filled in the community of fellowship among women. I had acquaintances during these years but no deep relationships.

I felt a deep need for friendship in the lonely years at the beginning of my marriage. We had moved to another state where I didn’t know a soul {other than my new hubby}. I was new to the role of a wife, new in my walk with the Lord as a new believer, and new to the area. I felt lonely and unsure of myself.  I needed to spend time with women who were more mature in the faith who could point me to Christ as I learned how to be a wife and how to walk with the Lord. I needed to see biblical femininity and submission modeled in the lives of other women. I needed to find women in the same stage of life that I was in as a new bride.  I craved relationships. Though I didn’t have a close female friend during this time, God did use the early years in my marriage to grow my husband and I in a way that I don’t think would have happened in quite the same way if we weren’t being each other’s best friends. I am grateful for that in so many ways as we feel the benefits of that time still today, almost 13 years later.

Then again as I became a new mother and took my place as a stay-at-home mom and homemaker, I found myself renewed in my craving for real friendship. I became a stay-at-home mom at a time when I didn’t know any other new moms. As a Christian school teacher, everyone I was close with from work was still working.  My sphere of friendships hadn’t moved beyond my coworkers. This phase of life can be so hard and lonely and I desperately wanted relationships. I needed to know that I wasn’t the only one out there who was experiencing all of the joys and woes of being a new mom. All of those things that no one tells you about {you know the stuff I mean}. I feared that I was going to mess up.

I needed friendship. I had very superficial relationships during these years. What I truly needed was a close and godly friend. As women, we tend to build up walls and barriers that intentionally keep people at arms length. We all have this deep need for relationships yet we “keep up appearances” and create walls that are difficult to break through. We stand in our own way at times.
I would like to say that God sent a wonderful and godly friend to me during this time but that isn’t the case. Instead I found myself around women who hurt me. Women who were catty, competitive, gossipy and even manipulative. For a while I thought that it wasn’t so bad to be around this type of conversation as long as I wasn’t contributing to it. Then I realized that just my presence gave an approval. Even though these women were all believers and weren’t involved in any of what you would call “big, bad” transgressions, their type of conversations weren’t Christ-like. Before long, any conversation would turn ugly and I found myself uncomfortable. The problem is, relational drama can be addictive. Before you know it, you have stayed too long. You realize too late that this isn’t healthy and, if you aren’t careful, you get burned.

About seven years ago, I made a conscious decision to change my choice of girlfriends. To realize the truth of Proverbs 27:9b that “sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”  I pulled away from situations that usually ended up in catty conversations that I didn’t want to be involved in. I chose to follow after the words of Proverbs 13:20, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools with suffer harm.” So what I had to do was deliberately phase out certain involvements because my own character wasn’t strong enough to remain Christ-like when in these situations. I said no thank you to some invitations. Stood next to someone new at functions. Didn’t ride in cars together with certain ladies who typically chose the car ride home from an event as the time for catty talk. I choose to be rid of the drama and to walk with wise women.

I wanted to be surrounded by godly women who were daily striving to walk with the Lord. Woman who wore godly submission to their husbands like a crown of honor. Mothers who had vision for their children and the role that God had placed them in. Women who had a goal that they were working toward by God’s grace and it resembled the goals I had for myself. These were the women that I wanted to spend time with. I began praying again for friendship but this time I was specific. I prayed that the Lord would bring godly women into my life who were following after God. And our God is so gracious!

We moved to a new state shortly following and I prayed for wisdom as I met new women and formed new relationships. And God heard my prayers and answered the desire of my heart. Godly women sought me out in our new church and I made a choice to trust and invest in those relationships. I discovered just how truly beneficial it is to surround yourself with women who inspire your walk with God. I am now so much more intentional with who I share my time and my heart with. I seek out time with women that have similar goals for their lives and families. We indeed are iron sharpening iron.

I now have some truly wonderful relationships and for that I am so grateful. I aim to be intentional. I try to see people through God’s eyes and not my own. I choose to forgive those who have wounded me and pray for them. I ask God to give me good friends and more so, I ask that He would help me to be a good friend. One of the most wonderful things that I am learning about godly relationships is that, as I grab hold of the hand of a more mature Christian woman who is walking a little farther down the road than I am, I can reach back and take hold of the hand of a younger Christian who may be just starting on the journey. I can find my place among them.