Friday, May 4, 2012

Navigating Women's Friendships

Welcome, if you came over from my devotion published today. 

I've heard from so many women over the years who long for female friendships, but are generally mistrusting of women. That's a rough place to be. Its like thirsting for a drink, yet fearing you'll drown if you take a sip.

Most of these women's fears were not totally unfounded. Maybe they had friends in the past who turned on them. Maybe they had female family members who took advantage rather than taking care of them. Maybe they've been wronged and hurt by "the other woman." Maybe they've been the other woman themselves.

My own friendship fears were anchored in my life experiences which convinced me: women are not to be trusted. That's why once I entered the Yahweh Sisterhood I had to learn to walk by faith with Christ, and not by my fears or cynicism.




Learning to Embrace Girlfriends

At first, I had to ask God to give me godly friends - I literally prayed for God to send them to me. Then I kept my eyes peeled. They didn't always come in the packages I expected, but they did come. Have you ever prayed for God to send you friends?

My next task was trusting them with my heart. And making space in my life to be with them, and to care about what they are going through. Friendships take time to develop. But the thing is, the quality ones take less time to maintain. A true friend can pick up right where you last left off. I am grateful for friends like that.

And the really big task I had to learn came when they occasionally messed up and hurt my heart - as we all do from time to time. I had to learn to grant them grace and to trust them once again. It's been a great growing experience for me. One that's made me more like Christ. One that I wouldn't trade for anything.

Learning to Prune Friendships

With a small few friends, I came to the realization that I needed to phase them mostly out of my life. Because they weren't fully walking with God and I found they repeatedly pulled me down rather than me helping them grow. Does that make sense?

With them I just slowly distanced myself. I made myself a little less available. And I prayed for God's hand to be all over their heart and mine in the transition. I can honestly say I've not had a big blow up this way. I remain friends with them today. Only in an acquaintance way rather than a close way. (wink)

Now, I'm not saying we can't be friends with anyone less mature in Christ. That's how mentoring and how lifestyle evangelism works after all. The problem was these girls were stagnant at the time, yet having more influence over me than I over them - so neither one of us were growing. I enjoyed their company but it was more of a guilty pleasure and I sensed God leading me to let go. That was hard but ultimately worth it.  Listening to God always is.

So friendships can be tricky. Matters of the heart always are. But they are worth the time, effort and prayer. And that comes to you from the heart of someone who once asked the question: Woman...hum, friend or foe?

Where are you right now in this chapter of your life regarding friendships?

Tell me about that in the comments and I will enter you to win a copy of the book It's No Secret: Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know. This book has several chapters that talk about women's friendships and conflicts. Winner will be announced here on Monday (enter your email in the side bar to subscribe to my blog if you need a reminder to check back on Monday).
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Have a friend that you treasure?  Tell them today how much you value them!

35 comments:

  1. This post has spoken directly to my heart.In the early hours before dawn,I lay awake in my bed and started asking myself WHY I have almost no friend..The few I have cherished are mainly male;I have withdrawn because as a widow,sometimes this end people misunderstand such friendships.Along the way,I have been hurt,then some 18 years back I moved from Uganda to Rwanda and had to start afresh.Most of the time I feel exploited by the frienda and family alike,and have been dissapointed by the young girls I have taken under my wing.....So,as I stated above I asked myself whether it is "them" or me?!!I prayed briefly and asked God to tell me what is wrong and guide me about it and send some friends my way.I now feel more enlightened with the study guidelines,how to pray and how to conduct myself .Please pray for me about this.
    My email is murescho@gmail.com

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    1. Schola, your comment had touched my heart. You are beautiful. And precious. And your friendship is worth having. Keep reading the book of Proverbs and praying for God to have a godly friend and be a godly friend.

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  2. I am where you were!!! Going all the way back to my mother almost every woman/girl in my life has really hurt me and I do like men better forthe same reasons you mentioned. But I am working with my mentor on this and dealing with the hurts and te vows I made because of these hurts and breaking the chains so I can open up to women and enjoy the friendships God intended for me to have. Thank you for your devotional!!! My email is ebauer333@gmail.com

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  3. This subject is so close to my heart. I always had more guy friends than girl friends when I was younger and then I ended up in an abusive marriage where I was isolated from pretty much everyone. After the marriage ended, I found myself a single mom with no support system. My counselor kept encouraging me to find a women's group at church but I was never terribly interested - it just seemed like too much trouble and I couldn't see where there would be any real benefit. God had different plans, however, and two years ago I found myself connecting with a group of women who have literally changed my life. I went from thinking that women friends were just too much trouble to having a group of women that are so very precious to me - I wouldn't trade them for anything.

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  4. Relationships with women are so difficult. And yet, I have found friendships that have helped to heal my heart. These are with friends who truly desire to honor God with their lives. Sure, they have still hurt me (we are all human) but we've worked through it and the relationships are stronger because of it. There are two friendships I have, in particular, right now that are causing me a lot of stress because they are not looking at how they can honor God in the friendship. Thankfully, I am still able to maintain a strong faith and, I believe be the influenced. I continue to seek God in this. Currently, I believe God is telling me to stay in both of these friendships. I used to believe it was for the sake of growing my friends. I've come to understand God has some growing up of me to do in these relationships. Thanks for your post!

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  5. Your post really hit the nail on the head with me. My best friends were always male; you always knew where you stood and if we fussed and fought, then it was done and never brought up again. I have 3 very close female friends now, and we have been through a lot together; and, I can honestly say that the reason I don't have more female friends is the trauma, drama, and backstabbing that goes on all week then the "holier than thou" personality that comes out on Sunday. I pray daily that I will let Christ shine through my actions and example at all times and not lead someone astray by how I act. Thank you so much for starting off my Friday on the right foot!

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  6. JenniferMay 04, 2012

    I'm in the fear and cynicism chapter....I feel not having a close girl friend is easier than dealing with the drama, stress, and emotional/mental overload that a relationship brings. I find that I really have no desire to share or pour out my feelings with anyone for fear of that vulnerability again. It stinks that this has to happen this way, remarkably, I really believe that the women that I was close with are Godly women with Godly families. They were so caught up in "their mission" that they didn't realize who they had hurt along the way...this was a huge lesson for me as I move forward with my family's ministries and callings. I need to be careful that I don't get so focused on where I am headed that I look back at some point and realize the devastation I have left behind. Now, as you wrote, I need to learn to grant them grace ...this is the hardest part. I have "moved on" but really don't want to mend fences, mainly because I don't want to be hurt again.
    Thanks for writing this devotional as God led you, I needed it. Jdelaneint@aol.com

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  7. I have said over and over that I do not like women! I work in a car dealership where I work with mostly men. I have come to realize that men are like women. They might not cut you down because of what you wear or your hair color/cut, but they do cut you down in even worse ways. I have been restoring my confidence in women. God has brought me a good friend that invited me into her church and also a friend I had as a teenager that I haven't seen in years. We picked up right where we left off. It is a long road ahead..I have a pre teen daughter that I have to show the way in friendships. Making sure that they are Godly and will not weigh her down.
    Thank you for this post. It has been years of feeling this way, my heart is ready to hear this message today.

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    1. Audra, I am so glad to hear you've found some friends which are helping you restore your confidence in female friendships. Praise God for that! :)

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  8. Thank You so much for your daily devotional and your blog which I try to read every morning. It's funny how they seem to be exactly what I need to hear. I have been a "Christian" for a long time, but I don't think I have ever fully sought after the Lord with all my heart. My story is long and would take far to many pages and alot of your time. I long for Godly women in my life and to know how to be a Godly friend as well. I have felt lately that God has been phasing out the time I spend with my family because get togethers with them always turns into drinking far too much and the language gets vulgar. I have felt for a while that I really don't fit in, they consider me a prude and someone who doesn't like to have fun. I love my sister's I just don't love their lifestyle. Most of my family members are not Christians. Do I cut them completely out of my life? I am really struggling with this. Thank You

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    1. AnonymousMay 04, 2012

      Carolyn- My heart really goes out to you and the circumstances that you are having to deal with. I would love to go into more detail with you so if you would not mind going to my email address at harmonyhouse16@yahoo.com then I would be more than happy to correspond with you. I hope and pray you have a wonderful day and I do look forward in hearing from you very soon.

      From My Heart To Yours

      Emily

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    2. Sweet Carolyn, keep listening to the Holy Spirit - let Him guide you. Your family may see you as a "prude," but there will likely come a time, perhaps some crisis, that they will be thankful for your stability in Christ and you can offer prayer and help.

      I am praying for you to keep turning to Christ and for Him to lead you into godly friendships.

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  9. Wow just the other day I started to think about this exact same thing. Since my son was born I have chosen to spend all my time with him and my husband. It has been recently that I have said this prayer- asking for a great friend. I thought I was the only one .

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    1. It's hard to have time for freinds when you have little ones, but it's so crucial. Maybe look for a mom' group like a MOPS group in your area. Blessings to you and your family!

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  10. Wow! This has spoke volumes to me! I am experiencing heartache from "friendships" I had made at work only to find out that these friends are not good for me. I am trying so hard to fit in and I am just not fitting in. I want to find friends who are Godly, who understand that I need positive people/things in my life, I need a good "God" friend. I have joined a lifegroup at my church which was such a hard leap for me to take. I feared that these women would not want me to be a part of their group. I previously have always felt so much less than them. I am learning that I am not less than anyone else because I now have God. I don't even fit in with my real life friends, maybe 2 or 3. Since my Mom's passing, I feel like I have nobody to listen to me, to share my ups and downs with...she was my best friend. I know nobody can replace her but I need another God friend...How do I find this person? How do I not let these women in my life influence me with their gossip, negativity? How do I not be competitive? How can I handle conflict and criticism with grace? But most importantly, how do I still grow spiritually so that I can learn more about the above? My heart is in such a bad place with relationships with women. I just want to be one of the girls for a change.

    My email is jennyhtp1@yahoo.com

    I would love to hear from anyone that can lend me some Godly advice. I will pray for all of you.

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    1. AnonymousMay 04, 2012

      Jenny- I would love to correspond with you via email personally. I have alot to share with you and I hope that you will email me back. My email address is harmonyhouse16@hotmail.com. I hope you have a great day and I do look forward in hearing back from you very, very soon.

      From My Heart To Yours,

      Nancy

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    2. Nancy-Looking forward to hearing more about you and from you. Thanks for replying!

      =) Have a great day!

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  11. AnonymousMay 04, 2012

    Wow! I needed this. I have felt so betrayed by so-called "christian" women friends that I felt like I would rather be by myself. I have been praying about women friends and praying for the ones that made it a point to judge me for going through a divorce telling me everything they "felt" I did wrong and telling me that God was tell them to tell me that. I believe God will tell us first and then confirm what He says. I am glad I know the difference between prophecy and proph-a-lieing. Its sad that some women are so catty and jealous. Each time that has happened to me God elevated me to higher place in Him and the women around me were jealous of the blessings I received from God for staying faithful to Him regardless of who stays or leaves in my life. I am praying for christian women friends that are morally sound, loyal and loving. I pray that I am the same way for them. Thanks so much for writing this message today. May God Bless you for your obedience. August Rose

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    1. Hi August. I love to read the book of Proverbs - it gives such wise counsel on friendships. May yours be blessed.

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  12. Grace LaneMay 04, 2012

    Rachel,
    You have explained the truth about friendship so simply, but with great wisdom. I didn't realize I was in some draining friendships until the Lord graciously took me out of them. Right nowThe Lord has blessed me with several women that I know I can be myself with. They are my sweet sisters in Christ. We share each others burdens,pray with one another,and laugh with one another. My life is better for having them in my life.
    Thank you for reminding me what a blessing they are.
    Grace :)

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    1. Praise God for that, Grace.

      As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. ~ Prov 27:17

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  13. AnonymousMay 04, 2012

    Rachel,
    I'm in a place where quite a few of my friendships are falling away. As much as I've tried to maintain them by communicating and touching base, quite a few are not recipricocated. However, I am mindful that these same folks similar place in their life like me (work, children, marriage), so I have to just be patient and see how God wants these relationships to pan out.

    What struck home was what you said about praying for Godly friends. That is so important. To be able to be transparent with at least one other woman and not having to have it all together but they love and respect you anyway is a gift. I am blessed to have women like that in my life, but as I get older the number is going down even further. Thank you for this post and God Bless you.

    My email is vam410@yahoo.com

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    1. AnonymousMay 07, 2012

      I hear and understand your broken heart in your words. I to am in the same situation and feel so alone sometimes and simply desire to have good solid christian friends that will not judge me nor take advantage of but simply accept me for just being me. I am not perfect and I am still a work in progress believe me! Please feel free to email me with any advice that you may have to harmonyhouse16@hotmail.com. Thanks for much for your post and may God bless you in a very special way today. Look forward in hearing from you really soon.

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  14. AnonymousMay 04, 2012

    After twenty years I finally drew the line and ended a "friendship." It started in my twenties before I really had a relationship with Christ and it introduced me to unhealthy addictions & behaviors. I do take responsibility for my own choices, but the influence was definitely there. After trying to witness to my friend about how my life had changed through Christ(and I prayed before I chose my words that they would be the right ones), I was met with yet another swearing brutal verbal attack. This was a continual pattern through the years, followed with explanations, apologies, etc. The stress and reaction I had from the remarks she has made thru the years still obsess and consume my thoughts to this day.

    It finally took my husband who said (yet again)"Why are you friends with this person? Friends don't treat you like that!" He had been saying it for years, but for some reason it stuck this time. I believe it was God's way of telling me I needed to listen to my husband who actually loves me, and our marriage and family has only strengthened the past couple years with the stress of that toxicity out of our lives.

    I think I hung on for so long because I had committed so many years to her already, and because we have mutual friends which makes it complicated. I pray for her still,but I know it was only through listening to my dear husband and prayer that I got out of that for good.

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    1. Sounds like you made a wise decision. Like you, I am thankful for the wisdom of my husband. :)

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  15. AnonymousMay 04, 2012

    Wow!! Rachel.. I have been reading your book ,http://www.amazon.com/Its-No-Secret-Revealing-Divine/dp/1434765377/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_2 ,on the Kindle app I have on my phone.
    I have cried, laughed, nodded in agreement, whispered my WOW! Gods, etc. I am so glad I
    selected your book. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, for sharing, writing, and blogging,
    the divine truths God has imparted to you!
    You go girl!!!

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    1. Thanks so much for this encouraging feedback!!

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  16. God has blessed me with one or two women who share my love of Christ to walk with at different points in my life. I appreciate the women I can share my heart with, but they aren't women I can DO things with because of geography or circumstances. I crave to be part of a group of women who get together to serve and grow together. It continues to be my prayer. Meanwhile, I am learning to pay attention and support the needs, dreams, and desires of women around me, knowing that having a friend depends upon being one. I agree with you, especially that grace is not optional when it comes to friendship!

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    1. Blessings on you and your friendships, Nan!

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  17. Hi Rachel: I loved your devotional on friendship. Your devotional has inspired me to start praying for God to bring Godly, women friends with similar interests as mine, into my life. Friends can have such a profound and deep influence upon us and it is so important to surround ourselves with people of character and excellence. A true friend inspires us to rise above, and rejoices along with us when we accomplish something good and Godly. They grieve when we fail and help us get back up. I spend some time every day reading blogs by women who are good at things that I want to excel in-- decorating, cooking and organizing. I often find that just by reading their blog, and knowing about their goals, aspirations, dreams and process of thinking changes me for the better and makes me more like what I and God want me to be like. I want to have real life friends like the bloggers I admire.

    I would love to read your book.

    Blessings!

    Anna

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    1. I will agree with you in prayer, Anna! Glad you stopped by.

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  18. Rachel - I swear you wrote this devotional on Proverbs 31 about women friends after taking a look into my life. Thank you. I have alientate myself from all sorts of girlfriends because of the unhealthy relationships I have had in the past with pettiness and cattines and I wound up literally wounded. These "friends" hurt me and cause me more pain than I have ever experienced in my 30 years! It shook me to my core and I think had something to do with the difficulty we had in conceiving our third child. I do not have many women friends, we just moved about 6 months ago and I am struggling to connect with other women. I have ALWAYS gotten along better with boys than girls. And I am not sure where to go from here...I would love to hear more from you on this subject!

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    1. It's hard making a move ... trying to meet new people and they all seem to already have established networks of friends. I suggest joining a Bible study (Beth Moore, Precepts, BSF, CBS, etc.) and look to get involved. Volunteer. Hostess. And keep your eyes peeled as you pray for God to send you some godly girlfriends. Read through the book of Proverbs for wisdom in how to choose friends wisely.

      I have prayed for you.

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  19. AnonymousMay 07, 2012

    Rachel- Thanks so much for your time and willingness to encourage all women rather they be single, divorced, widow or whatever. I would really appreciate your input to me regarding a situation that I went thru just a very few short months ago. Without mentioning names for privacy sake I was seeing a Christian Counselor. Well, his secretary just happened to be a good friend of mine. Over a course of several months this secretary began sharing information with this Counselor about me and I came to find out that both parties were sharing information about me which of course if against the law and unfortunately I did have to report the entire situation. These issues were not going on before this secretary actually became this Counselors secretary and I really trusted this counselor but now my trust is absolutely gone and I am literally heartbroken as to what to do. I did stop the sessions in the middle of working with this Counselor and we were dealing with some heavy stuff. I am so heartbroken to think that this Counselor that I thought I could trust would ever even think about doing this to me but it did happen and I really could use some advice on this subject. Thank You so much for your ministry and I do hope to hear from you very soon. My email address is harmonyhouse16@hotmail.com. I would appreciate it if you could respond to me by personal email regarding this subject. Thank You Rachel for all your help. Please pray for me.

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  20. AnonymousMay 08, 2012

    I'm becoming more transparent and open. I do yearn for stronger godly friendships. mheard11@frontier.com

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