In the crunch of priorities in your life, where do your friends fall?
For busy, working women with countless demands on their lives, keeping up with friends often gets pushed to the side. It might be because there isn’t enough time in a day, or because “friend time” feels like too much of a guilty pleasure. But you can’t treat friendships like a hobby you’re waiting to take up when you have more leisure time.
Friends must be a priority because they’re an integral part of God’s plan for our lives:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12)
Be intentional about forming and building solid Christian friendships. Rushed “catch-up” chats in the hall after church or late-night Facebook messages from the office don’t count. Like any other relationship, true friendship requires investment of real time and energy—but they’re worth it. Here’s why.
Friendship makes you better. Over time, you’ll find that the investment you make in godly friendships yields unbelievable dividends. It is through such friendships that iron sharpens iron and one woman sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). Healthy, supportive relationships with other Christian women will positively impact pretty much everything else you’ve got going on. Strong friendships can dramatically improve your overall health and longevity, your optimism regarding challenges, your kindness toward others, and even your job satisfaction.
When you face unexpected challenges or tragedies (and you will), good friends can be your lifeline. I’ve seen this play out in my own family over the past seven months as my daughter Annie has suffered through Piriformis Syndrome. Despite countless hospital visits, therapies, and treatment efforts, she remains wracked by constant excruciating and debilitating pain.
When it first started, I went straight into problem-solver-mom mode: I researched symptoms, doctors, and even natural remedies. I planned a trip to the Mayo clinic and encouraged friends and family to try to keep Annie’s spirits up. I was sure we were going to “solve this problem” in no time. But then a month passed, and then two, and then five more. I’m no longer sure about what the future holds for Annie’s illness. But I trust that God has a plan, and that his plans are good. And in the midst of this great challenge, I have been constantly overwhelmed by God’s equally great provision for us.
The amazing friends who have carried me over the past seven months have been the greatest blessing I’ve ever experienced. It hurts Annie to move, but she loves to be around people, so friends come to us, and they keep coming. Friends have ministered to us through relentless prayer and encouragement. Friends have provided food for the family (and for our many visitors). They’ve sent kind gifts and letters, and I’ve even had friends stay with Annie so I could join the family for my step-daughter’s college graduation. Friends at 4word have stepped in to fill in my “gaps” and lighten my workload. It’s humbling and awe-inspiring to see friends show up for us, over and over, in ways we couldn’t have imagined.
Friendship is a ministry opportunity. I’m hurting as I watch Annie hurt, but through the ministry of our friends I am also learning deep and incredible things about God; learning about how he created us and how he loves us. As believers, we’re called to “encourage each other and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). When your life is going relatively smoothly, it might not feel like you “need” friends, but it is possible that they might need you. God can use you to work in their lives, but in order to do so, you must make time to be in their lives.
Put it on your calendar. If you’re struggling to make time for friends, start by blocking out some regular “friend time” on your calendar. I’m naturally drawn to connect with people, but I’m also extremely task-oriented, so much so that I easily fall into a “workaholic” mode, pushing everything else off until I’ve accomplished my to-do list. The problem, of course, is that the to-do list never really ends. I’ve realized that the best way for me to counteract the tendency to overwork is by intentionally scheduling time to connect. By making it a part of my calendar, I trigger that task-oriented part of my brain and I’m much more likely to make friend time happen.
For three years, while I was working full time and raising kids, I met every other week with a small group of women for lunch. We were all in similar life stages, balancing faith, relationships, and careers, and we all had crazy lives and schedules, but we committed to that one hour together just to share, pray, cry, and encourage each other. Our lunch accountability meetings were a set item on my calendar—not an afterthought—and that made it easier to fold friendship into the flow of my day.
Those women were, and continue to be, a huge part of my life. This accountability group taught me the importance and the value of having authentic relationships with women who value the same things in life that I do. From that point forward, I’ve always worked to make sure I have such women in my life.
My accountability group came together pretty naturally, but it doesn’t always work that way. If you’re having a hard time making or building connections, try joining an organized group like 4word, or a joining a Bible study. Groups can take some of the organizing pressure off of you and put you in regular contact with other believers with whom you can gradually move toward deeper friendship. Pray that God would bring deep friendships into your life, and start consciously praying for those friends. Praying for people has a way of opening up your heart to them and bringing you closer together.
Wherever you are in your friends journey, I encourage you to stick with it. Make the time, even when it feels like there isn’t any. Put in the effort, even when it feels like too much. Keep seeking connection, even when it feels awkward. It will be a blessing for you, and a blessing for the future friends you meet!