“Friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”
C.S. Lewis, “The Four Loves”
For a pretty good chunk of my life, I just didn’t get female friendships. It seemed like nothing but petty comments and a battle for higher ground in the hierarchy and I just didn’t understand how that world worked. So I built a lot of my more solid friendships with the guys in my life (which could inspire a post called “Platonic Opposite Sex Friendships Where Everyone is Happy: Yeah Right”). Luckily, in college I was in a situation where there were multiple other Christian, similarly minded females around me and I learned how great a blessing they really could be. And thankfully, that trend has continued in my life where, instead of viewing other women with doubt and hesitation, I’ve seen how incredible, powerful, and kind they can be.
While there are all kinds of folks to make the world go ‘round, here’s a list of five that I think could benefit every Christian woman of any age, along with two that don’t.
FIVE FRIENDS YOU NEED
1. The “Up For Anything” Friend
“Hey, I’m bringing cookies and visiting shut-ins later, want to join me?”
“Hey, I’m going out of town and need someone to teach my Bible class. Can you cover me?”
“Hey, I’m spending the summer overseas on a mission trip. Want to go?”
She’s the type who answers yes to any of these questions and whatever else you might come up with. Treasure this friend because she’s dependable (and we all need some of that in our life), but even more because she helps you to be your best self. Most of us want to be a light to the world in some way and sometimes the idea of going it alone can keep us from what we’d like to do. The person who will “lift you up” is worth keeping.
2. The “Race that Knows Joseph” Friend
“If a person sorter sees eye to eye with you, and has pretty much the same ideas about things, and the same taste in jokes–why, then he belongs to the race that knows Joseph.”
-L.M. Montgomery, “Anne’s House of Dreams”
She’s the friend you’ve just met but feel like you just understand. She’s the friend that everyone thinks is related to you, even though you look nothing alike. The one that notices the book and movie references you slip into conversations. These types of friendships are rare, but so important because they have “no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival” (C.S. Lewis) and sometimes you just need a little of that in your life.
3. The “We Have Nothing In Common But The Blood of Jesus But That’s Enough” Friend
The opposite of the race that knows Joseph. This is more like the-race-that-once-met-Joseph’s-awkward-cousin-that-nobody-mentions friend. She doesn’t understand you. You don’t get her. You both have some ideas about what the other could think, say, do, or feel that would work better. You love each other anyway. She’s not afraid to tell you when she thinks you’re wrong and that’s important. Take to heart that “faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6) and realize what a blessing it is to have one of those friends who can offer a different perspective and tell you what you need to hear sometimes. Even if it isn’t necessarily what you want. Learn from each other and give yourself the opportunity to grow and see the world in a different way.
4. The “Been There, Done That” Friend
Find as many of these women as possible and hold on to them with everything you can. As I grew out of the “I know the answer for everything” phase of life, I came to cherish them more and more. It’s easy to be prideful and want to do everything your way (although doing things your way can be good sometimes), but it’s just stupid (I don’t have kids so I can still use that word) to take for granted the wisdom of women who have been there already. They’ve handled situations that you might face before and can offer guidance. They know how to be a wife and raise kids. They have a lot of really, really fantastic recipes. Take advantage of them. Learn from them as much as you can. Listen to them. That’s going to be you one day to prepare as much as you can now.
5. The “Wonder Woman” Friend
This friend can do no wrong. She visits the sick, organizes charity drives, has the entire New Testament memorized, and probably knits scarves for orphans in her sleep. On a balancing beam. While making crème brûlée. With perfect hair. Teaching an exegetical course through the book of Romans.
You hate her just a little bit but mostly it’s because you admire her so much. You feel like she’s doing all the things you could (and should) be doing instead of power-watching another series on Netflix. First of all, give yourself a break. Some people naturally conquer the world while the rest of us have to try a little harder. But secondly, follow her lead. A little bit of healthy guilt can be good if it motivates you to be better. Work to “outdo one another” in doing work for the kingdom. And join in and help her accomplish the work she’s doing.
TWO FRIENDS YOU DON’T
1. The Competitor
You’re never sure when or how she insulted everything about your very existence, but you’re pretty sure it took place. This isn’t something people generally grow out of either. From Regina George to Emily Gilmore to Marie Barone, you’re always going to find the ones who feel that tearing others down is the best proof of their own greatness. Don’t let them get to you. There are few things that can cause you to forget to “look to Jesus” like someone getting you to focus on yourself and your own doubts and insecurities instead. While I’m never a supporter of dumping people, sometimes a bit of space can be best for everyone.
2. The Complainer
She’s a great person, but good grief she’s exhausting. She might love and sincerely care about people and the church, but she has a hard time finding any good done by others. The preacher is no good, others don’t care like she does, someone was being lazy, someone else was doing a good work but not the right way. It’s easy to get caught up in this and start to view (and talk about) the church in the same way. Don’t give up on her, but be a force for good and point out the positives you can find instead. You can be the breath of fresh air that helps her see the happy side of things, but be careful not to get drained in the process.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”