Turning 60 makes a girl think.
About a lot of things . . .
Friendship, for one.
That’s a topic the Holy Spirit kept driving home to my heart during my summer quiet time walks last year. Cultivate relationships with other women, He whispered. As you age, you will need the added support. Yes, you’ve always considered your husband your best friend, but you need others, too.
Since I longed for the Lord to direct me as I embraced a new decade of life, I quickly wrote down “Women Support” on my seasonal goal list. Then I asked Him who He wanted in my closest circle of friends. Since I believe the best relationships are face-to-face ones, I considered women in my hometown or within close proximity to my town. I noted that some connections were already in place but needed more attention.
Several criteria came to mind as I jotted down possible names. Here is what I came up with, in no particular order.
A woman who knows how to laugh
A good friend knows how to look at the lighter side of life and encourages me to do the same. A merry heart is good medicine, Solomon writes in the book of Proverbs. So true. Nothing like a good belly life to lift the spirits and bond people.
A woman who knows how to empathize
A good friend knows how to enter into my pain. Yes, she knows how to laugh and rejoice with me, but she also knows how to weep. Shared suffering creates a bond.
A woman who knows how to encourage
Not only does a good friend know how to empathize with my hardships, but she also knows when it’s time to nudge me forward. She doesn’t allow me to wallow too long or too hard. Grieve, yes, but then move on to healthy acceptance when she sees I am ready.
A woman who challenges me to be all I can be
A good friend sometimes asks the hard questions to help me regain focus or put life in perspective. She takes me to the Word of God to remind me of my role in the Kingdom of God.
A woman who prays with me and for me
As I look back over my life, some of my deepest connections with other women have come through praying together. In God’s amazing way He works, He creates a bond through prayer unlike any other.
A woman who keeps a confidence
A good friend honors the relationship by putting a lock on her lips. She would never violate the rules of friendship by leaking information shared between the two of us, unless she senses my life or someone else’s life is in danger. If she slips, she quickly seeks forgiveness and reconciliation between us.
A woman who models honesty
A good friend can admit her own weaknesses and knows how to ask for prayer and help when needed. She understands that she is a work in progress. Through her example, she helps me break down my defenses and admit my struggles.
A woman who lives a balanced life
A good friend leaves margins and sets healthy boundaries. She knows that saying “yes” to God sometimes means saying “no” to others, even to me.
A woman who enjoys life
A good friend exudes a joyful spirit in everything she does. She enjoys God’s world and those around her because she’s embraced her Creator as Savior and Lord. She lives with an eternal perspective—she knows the story ends with a happily ever after!
A woman who serves God faithfully
Whether single or married, she knows her God-given calling and uses her gifts, talents, time, treasure, and interests for the glory of God and the furtherance of His gospel.
As I step back from my list, I realize I, too, want to model these qualities to the friends on my list. I need to be the kind of friend who knows how to laugh, empathize, encourage, challenge, pray, keep a confidence, model honesty, enjoy life, live a balanced life, and serve God faithfully.
All the way to the finish line.
May I encourage you, dear woman reader? Don’t let fear, past wounds, busyness, or a host of other things rob you of cultivating friendships with other women.
Ask the Lord to guide you to those friendships that offer mutual enrichment.
Then take the next step . . .
Call her up. Invite her out for coffee or over to your home for tea. Send her a card. Be courageous. And be proactive.
Action plan: Ask the Lord to open the way for cultivating deeper face-to-face relationships with other women. Pull out your journal or piece of paper. Jot down any names He brings to mind. Purpose to pursue someone this week.
Eileen Rife, author of Masquerade, speaks to women's groups, encouraging them to discover who they are in Christ and what part they play in His story! www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com.