Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The 3 Types of Friend Every Woman Should Be--Part 1 of 3

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of going to Laurel, Mississippi to lead a girls’ retreat for my friend Zack, who is a youth minister at a church there. If you’ve known me for, say, longer than 15 minutes, you know that I jump at any opportunity that involves the word “sleepover.”  So I excitedly began praying over and planning toward the girls’ retreat weekend. Zack asked me to teach on relationships, so my first session was on girlfriendships (I made that word up). 

I’ve read several articles lately that had titles such as “the 5 types of friend every woman needs.” I love to read about and study relationships, so I always read these types of articles eagerly. I clicked on one in particular not long ago and read through the 5 types of friends that the author claimed every woman should have.
But as I read through the ‘types’ I found myself having to work hard to come up with a friend who fit each of the descriptions. I finished the article a little disillusioned. Is something wrong with me? Why don’t my friends fit into the author’s boxes?
The truth of the matter is that while the author does have some pretty awesome-sounding friends, they are just that—her friends. All of the categories that she described are what work for her life. In reality, there is no all-encompassing list of stereotypes our friends fill for us. Everyone is different; therefore, everyone’s relationships are different.
As I prayed over how to present this information to the girls, God led me to talk about 3 types of friendship. This differs from the categories of friends I mentioned above because these 3 types of friends are universal. Every woman on the planet has the capability to be all three of these to another woman. There are no personality requirements, no necessary spiritual gifts. You simply must be a Jesus-loving woman who wants a friend— more importantly, who wants to be a friend.
The first two types of friendships come from these verses in Titus 2: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
The first type of friendship present in the lives of women who love the Lord is friendship with  older women. The example I’ll use is my friend Penny. I met Penny at a ladies’ Bible study three summers ago at my church in New Orleans. At the end of our 8 week study, I had realized that Penny was a godly woman and that there was a lot I could learn from her. So I asked her to meet me for dinner. As we got to know each other, it became obvious that God had placed us very intentionally in one another’s lives. Penny cares about everything that happens in my life. She prays for me regularly. On my way to Laurel for the girls retreat, I called her and she even prayed for me over the phone as I drove.
I don’t ever have a conversation with Penny where I don’t learn something. Through her wisdom gained from years of walking with the Lord, she constantly teaches me how to love Him better. Because Penny has allowed me to walk through life with her, I know that she is not perfect. She has been honest with me about real life struggles and heartaches, and her level of transparency with me allows me to be transparent with her on that same level. It’s so much easier to confide in someone when you know that they struggle too, and that they are not going to judge you. And not only are they not judging you, they are loving you. Penny has taught me a lot about unconditional, agape love, because that is how she loves me. She is what I like to call a spiritual mother, but she is also my cherished friend.  We are firmly planted in one another’s hearts.
Why do we need friends like this in our lives? I can only speak for myself here, but in my experience having relationships with older women has enriched my life on every level. There is just no substitute for life experience. Anyone who has been walking with Jesus longer than me has something to teach me. Every woman is different. I have a fantastic Christian mother who is my favorite person on the planet. But no one, not even my wonderful mother, can meet my every need. And so I have other women friends who meet different needs. The variety of women in my life speak the truth into my life in a variety of ways. It’s beautiful, really. I would not be who I am today without the long line of women, starting with my mother, who have shared their love and their time with me.
There is another answer to the ‘why’ question: we’re commanded to. It’s as simple as that. Paul commanded the older women to teach the younger women how to live godly lives. He expected Christian women to have inter-generational relationships. I don’t know why it is ever perceived as weird to have friends who are 10 or 15 or 30 years older than you are. It’s Biblical.
If you want this kind of friendship in your life but you don't know where to start, spend some time observing the Christian women around you (this assumes that you spend time around Christian women). Listen and watch. What do they talk about? How do they spend their time? How do they interact with you? With others? Ask the Holy Spirit to identify a potential older friend (or friends). Is there one woman in particular that you just ‘click’ with? Ask her to lunch or coffee. It doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement. Get to know her just as you would someone your own age. It may seem out of your comfort zone, but you will find that it is worth the effort.


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