“I'm a friend and companion of all who fear you, of those committed to living by your rules.” Psalm 119:63 (MSG)
Not long ago I would’ve told you that I don’t much like women. I counted a few as friends, but the rest of the gender I dismissed categorically as too much trouble! Never a “tomboy” by any stretch of the imagination, I just found guys so much easier to be friends with. They generally say what they mean, let you know where you stand, and never size you up to determine who has the better haircut.
I didn’t want to distrust women, but the majority of females in my life at the time evoked that response. They were catty, competitive, and conniving. They gossiped, backstabbed and manipulated. I have to readily admit that I often acted in kind. I like drama in movie plots, unpredictability in novel endings, and rivalry in sports arenas. But I decided I wanted stability and camaraderie in my relationships.
Isn’t it strange how addictive relational drama can be? I’m told you can put a frog in a pot of cold water on the stove and gradually turn up the heat, and it will stay in the pot until it reaches a fatal boil without attempting escape. Evidently the frog doesn’t realize how unhealthy the situation is slowly becoming. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that fable - I’d never boil a frog - but I’ve been in a few friendships that were like that. I stayed way too long in the pot before I realized this isn’t healthy for me, and I got burned.
So what lead me to flip-flop my position on having girlfriends? First, I began to worship Jesus – I became a Christian. That brought about many beneficial changes in my mind and spirit. Where I had become cynical and guarded, God’s love penetrated and softened my heart. I learned the meaning of Proverbs 18:24, “There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (RSV). Christ was now my forever friend who could be completely trusted.
I also made changes in my choice of girlfriends. With the help of the Holy Spirit and the lessons on character from the Bible, I learned to recognize which people and relational patterns were unhealthy for me. The Bible teaches, “He who walks with the wise grows wise” (Proverbs 13:20, NIV). I wanted to walk with wise women through life. So most of my friendships ran their course and dissolved. A few I deliberately phased out because my own character wasn’t strong enough yet to remain Christ-like in their company. Meanwhile, I prayed for quality friendships with women of faith. God heard my prayers, just as the Bible promises He does. Fun-loving, God-loving, gracious women at my church sought me out and invited me out. And I made the choice to trust them and invest.
Over time, God birthed in me a huge compassion for females. I began seeing women through His eyes and not just the lens of my own hurtful past. I realized that not all women are like those I had encountered. I learned to forgive those who had hurt me. With empathy, I could now understand and reach out to women who feel lonely, insecure or betrayed. That’s a rough place to be emotionally, and as the Bible says, “one should be kind to a fainting friend” (Job 6:14, NLT). Today I can finally say, “I love women!”
What about you … do you find yourself entangled in an unhealthy relationship? Are you in emotional hiding after being burned? Maybe you’ve written off an entire gender because of the “bad eggs” you know. Take that to God and ask Him to work restoration in your heart and life. Study the Bible and learn the traits of trustworthy character so you can develop them yourself and recognize them in others. Ask God to send wise, emotionally healthy women of faith into your life. Then muster up the courage to respond and befriend them.
Neither gender is categorically a foe – but I count myself happy to be sipping Starbucks, playing dominos, and sharing my dreams with sisters of the fairer sex. Won’t you join us?
Dear Lord, I want to have good friends, and to be a good friend. Help me to develop godly friendships, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Traveling Together: Thoughts on Women, Friendship and the Journey of Faith by Karla Worley
Get Over It and Get On With It by Michelle McKinney Hammond
Listen to Today’s Radio Show
Read through the book of Proverbs in the Bible for guidance in wise character.
What is the current state of your friendships?
What is the current state of your heart?
James 2:23, “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God's friend.” (NIV)
Proverbs 22:11, “If you love purity of heart and graciousness of speech, the king will be your friend.” (GNT)