I’ll have to admit, sometimes life can seem much easier when you only have to worry about yourself. I mean singleness is a brooding ground for self preservation and isolation. You can throw yourself into your work or your hobbies and be engrossed with becoming the best version of yourself leaving your friends in the dust behind you as you plow forward in life.
Marriage comes with it’s own temptations about ditching the whole idea of friendships, I mean if your “friends” don’t like your spouse then, are they really your friends? And it’s just so hard to coordinate all those schedules now that you have to work around yours AND your spouse’s, and let’s not even get started about all those kids’ activities you need to work around. I mean, seriously? Who really has time for friends anymore?
Look, I get it. I have been there. It was typically when I found myself in a relationship where I discovered how hard it was to maintain my friendships. Whether it came down to the busyness of my own schedule, my husband’s schedule, or if it came down to personality clashes between my friends and my spouse, it just got hard to manage.
Just after Evan and I got married, I found that we didn’t really have people we could consider good friends. Not that we didn’t have people in our lives, we did! Separately. And just being completely honest, that made things tough. We were spending a lot more time together than we were used to and were finding that our friendships were strained or non-existent which added to our social anxiety regarding friendships which piled on until we reached a point where we were alone, secluded, and borderline unhealthy.
We knew we needed friends and we weren’t sure how to go about finding them. We tried hanging out with couples from our church and whether it was on our side or the other couple’s side, we just had a tough time finding friends that would both encourage us in our faith and marriage, and also be someone we could laugh with, enjoy time together, and dig deeper with. We prayed, A LOT, for this. And we’ve been beyond blessed in the friend department since.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because friendships are important! They keep you from getting weird and going wayward. They push you closer to Jesus than you can go alone. They keep you physically and mentally healthy. They can give you perspective and diversity. They lift you up when you’re feeling alone in the world. And good friends pray with you when times get tough.
Here are FIVE reasons you need friends in your life!
1. Community; A friend will help you to be more social and love others like Jesus
Once you have one friend, it becomes a lot easier to make MORE friends. Now, It’s not really necessary to have a ton of friends but a small close circle whom you can share your life with will benefit you in ways you could never imagine. The Lord calls us into community to share Him with one another. It’s pretty darn amazing to be sitting with some of your closest friends and sharing about all the goodness God has done in your life. Proverbs 18:24 says “a man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”. What this means is that by sharing your life with another person, opening up, being vulnerable and authentic with another human being can lead to a bond that is thicker than family. A bond like that is pretty great. You want relationships that are taken deeper than the surface where you can share your deepest struggles as well as your greatest joys. These friendships will celebrate with you and mourn with you throughout the seasons of your life. And all it takes is one friend to lead you to being comfortable in social gatherings encouraging you to be friendly with others as well. A friend will help you love strangers and enemies the way that Jesus loves.
When choosing your friends, be sure to ask God for discernment and for Him to send you friends who are strong in their faith. Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians “do no be deceived: “bad company ruins good morals”. In your friend group, you might be the only Christian. Go and get yourself some Christian friends as well so that you are not the sole evangelist in your friend group. Because you are the sum of the people you spend most of your time with, though your intentions might be good, what may end up happening is you become more like your friends rather than they becoming more like you, and ultimately more like Jesus.
2. Refinement; A friend can give you a reality check when needed.
When we are alone, we get kind of weird. In our minds we can distort scripture to meet our own agenda. We can justify our sins and we can drift away from God. It’s unfortunate but, it’s true. When we’re alone and secluded we can drift away from God quietly without anyone really even knowing.
A good Christian friendship is one that is open to rebuke and a nice slap on the wrist every once in a while. It’s good to have a friend who cares so much about you that they’re willing to upset you and call you out just to bring you closer to God. “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:5-6). Any acquaintance or shallow friendship will tell you exactly what you want to hear and will justify your actions, but a true friend is willing to wound you to bring you to better health.
You should also be willing to do the same for your friends because “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Just as your friends are willing to make sure your faith with God is in good standing, you should be willing to do that for them.
3. Encouragement; A friend will be there to lift you up when you feel alone
At the All For Love Ladies Conference last year (2018), one of Lighthouse Church’s elder’s wives compared the sisterhood of Christ to the redwood trees in California. These trees have roots that grow deep and wide and intertwine with one another so as to hold one another up during storms and natural disasters. What a powerful metaphor for the friendship that can be created among God’s children.
One of the greatest things about being friends with other Christian women is that when the times get tough, and the storms seem unbearable, they are there to speak life into you and encourage you to keep fighting.
Paul writes in his first letter to the Thessalonians, “therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing”. God’s church is already doing this! It comes naturally to Christians to be encouraging and build each other up.
I love how despite all the terrible things that happened to Job, his friends were there to encourage him and console him even at his lowest moments. Job 2:11 says “now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.” That’s what friends do for you. They are there to be a shoulder to cry on, a word of encouragement, and to sympathize with your pain.
4. Wisdom; A friend’s knowledge will soon become your knowledge
The more people you hang around, the more lives you get to pull experiences from. I recently read the book One in Christ: Bridging Racial and Cultural Divides by David D. Ireland. In this book, Ireland discusses why having friendships across racial and cultural differences can not only glorify Christ in the way we are loving others, but it will teach you how to be accomodating to people who are different from you, rather than simply tolerant. Having friends who are different from you makes you wise.
You learn how to interact in a variety of social settings and to accommodate differences the way that Jesus modeled for us in the story of the Good Samaritan. You can read this story in full in Luke 10:25-37, but to summarize, a Jewish man was attacked by robbers and left to the side of the road to die. A priest AND a Levite passed by and didn’t do anything. Finally a Samaritan man (Samaritans were hated by the Jews during this time) stops to help him. He cleans him up, gives him shelter, and shows him love and care. This is how Jesus wants us to treat our neighbors. Surround yourself with wise friends of different backgrounds and you will become wise. Proverbs 13:20 says “whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm”.
Truthfully, this whole Christian thing can get hard at times. The Bible tells us that this is normal and just par for the course we’ve been called to. But when we have a wise community of fellow believers, we can confide in each other, teach each other, and build each other up in our faith. “That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” Romans 1:12.
5. Strength; A friend can keep us mentally and physically strong
Life can get hard sometimes, but God never planned for us to go the road alone. We were always designed to be in community so that we can “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Your friends are there to help carry you load. They’re there to pick you up when you fall, and to speak life into you when you feel all dark and twisty. Sometimes, a good friend can be better for you than going to therapy. Think about all the money you’ll save just by sharing your struggles with your friends!
If your friend has noticed that you’re struggling, whether that be physically or mentally, and offers to help, accept their help. It’s their way of showing you love and acting out what God has asked for his church to do. If you’re the one who’s noticed that a friend is struggling, pray and ask for God to reveal to you how you can help them through this season and let them know they don’t have to endure it alone. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
If you haven’t told your friends how much you value them lately, give them a call today or shoot them a text letting them know how grateful you are for their role in your lives.