Women: Friend or Foe?
Rachel Olsen

"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 deal 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 admit that I often responded in kind. 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 decided to follow Christ. This sparked many beneficial changes in my mind and spirit. Where I had been 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 trusted completely.

I also made changes in my choice of girlfriends. With the help of the Holy Spirit and lessons on character from the book of Proverbs, I learned to recognize which people and relational patterns were unhealthy for me. I was ready to be rid of the drama! The Bible teaches, "He who walks with the wise grows wise" (Proverbs 13:20, NIV). I wanted to walk with wise women through life. Many of my current-at-the-time friendships ran their natural course and dissolved. A few transformed along with me. But 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. I discovered how beneficial it is to surround yourself with women who inspire your walk with God.

Over time, God birthed in me a huge love and great compassion for women. I began seeing them through His eyes and not just the lens of my own hurtful past. I realized that not all women are like those I had known. I also learned to forgive and pray for those who've hurt me. Today I cherish my friendships with the women in my life.

What about you? How are your friendships? Do you find yourself entangled in an unhealthy relationship? Are you in emotional hiding after being burned? Maybe you've written off the entire gender because of the trouble you've seen. Take that to God and ask Him to heal and bring restoration to your heart. Ask Him to send godly, wise women 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 tea, playing Dominos, doing Bible study, shopping 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.

Related Resources:
I'll bring the Chocolate: Satisfying a Woman's Craving for Friendship and Faith by Karen Porter

A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself by Mary Lance V. Sisk

Connect with Rachel today at her blog.

Application Steps:
Study the book of Proverbs in the Bible and learn the traits of trustworthy character so you can develop them yourself and recognize them in others.

Is there someone you can befriend? Striking up a friendship can be a great way to introduce a gal to Christ.

Reflections:
What is the current state of your friendships – are they nurturing? Godly?

Are you open to making new friends? Why or why not?

Power Verses:
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)

© 2009 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

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17 Comments:

Blogger Danielle said...

I could have taken every word of this and written it myself. I [know] where you are coming from.

And just like you, God has brought some amazing, God-loving, God-breathing women into my life. He started with a few older women... ones who could be like a grand-mother or mother figure to me... and from there, He brought ones closer to my age that I can share and fellowship with. Ones that I can be totally Danielle in front of.

Thank God for that!

Blogger Fran Babij said...

Oh my goodness, THANK YOU Rachel for this devotional. It is exactly where I have been, am currently at and am trying to go in regards to my relationships with other women. Aside from my best friend from childhood, I couldn't stand women and had very few true female friends for every reason you gave. So I would always hang out with men just because I didn't want the drama. Then when God began healing my heart and bringing more female friends into my life I began learning not just how to be as a woman, but how NOT to be as a woman. Generally I found it easy to move forward and step away from toxic relationships, I only had one difficult relationship to end because it was with another Christian woman who told me I wasn't a true Christian or true friend if I ended the friendship with her. That was frustrating as well as emotionally and spiritually draining. For years I stayed in the relationship out of guilt. Until God showed me the same things you did here. So even though the friendship has been ended I still love her and pray for her healing so that she can have truly healthy friendships. In the meantime however, I'm thoroughly enjoying the women and the friendships that God has placed in my life. Thanks again for reminding me of all God has and to be thankful for all the women He has blessed me with who are TRUE friends.

Blogger Rachel Olsen said...

Praising God with you Danielle and Fran!

Isn't it great to have friends that "I can be totally Danielle in front of"? We all need to know and be known by others, love and be loved. Thanks for your comments.

Blogger Marilyn said...

This is my prayer for my children and grandchildren. I have had wonderful and helpful godly women in my life that have supported me. Starting with my mom and grandmother who taught my Sunday school class. Thank you for sharing this.

Blogger Blue Maiden said...

What a wonderful devotion. I am so blessed to know that God wants us to have the very best in friendships, in marriage, in service.

I'm thankful for this devotion. I've been able to surround myself with Godly friends and now my daughter is learning to do the same. This will help me guide her!

(Father God, I thank you for all best things You send us - like this devotional. Bless each one that reads it. Bless and encourage the writer. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.)

Blogger jill said...

Thank you Rachel for sharing your heart and God's love! This is exactly what happended in my life too (as if it were my own life story and same reasons for doing the same things)! I thought I was disfunctional or something to prefer the company of guys to women. But after becoming a Christain in my 20s, I realized the transforming work God needed to do in my heart. He's still working, but I'm now on the Women Ministries team at our church where my heart and focus is WOMEN. Can you believe the transforming power of our Lord and God?! It's all for His glory and our good. Amen!

Anonymous sandy@morrisstatebank.com said...

This is exactly where I am in my life right now with my relationships with other women in my life. At my job I really would rather work with a bunch of men than all of these women. Thank You for the advice I am certainly gonna pray for them and myself as well.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, now I'm really mad. Will you please stop writing devotionals that speak directly to me? It's so annoying. Here I am, minding my own business, hanging onto the anger towards women...and BAM!...

If you keep this up, I'll just haf'ta remove you as my 'home page' that navigates to your devotions every time I open a browser.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

(smile)

Anonymous Jessica said...

I love this. Thank you so much. These are words that I needed to hear. Please pray for me to find a true friend. I really need that.

OpenID writingcanvas said...

Found you thru Twitter. :)

This is a great post. There have been several times in my life when I vowed I'd never be friends with another woman again. The pain with some friendships can be like a divorce. But God gently puts a new one in my life, that helps heal the hurts. Friendships can be like seasons. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A year ago, I befriended a woman who was just dx with cancer. We would pray together and talk about her struggles and challenges in life. She's from another state so we dont see each other much but we talk regularly on the phone. Recently she disclosed that she was involved in a same sex relationship and that's where I became more guarded. She made sure I know that our friendship is a gift from God and will not entertain any other thoughts other than pure friendship, more so because she knew I am happily married. I feel like I am being unfair because I knew she needed a friend, yet I could not give my all bec. of her past. Thank you for your blog, it has put everything in perspective. Any recommendations on how to go about this friendship without hurting her in return, and still give glory to God?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi anon! I'm not from Pro31, I'm the anon that posted shortly before you did.
I can think of one thing to help you with your friendship. It might help to categorize her sin into one category with every other sin we commit. Lesbian sin is no different (in God's eyes) than gossip, being rude to my husband, etc. We overlook ordinary sins in others, try putting her 'other' sin in the same light you place all of her sins...and your own.

That's what I do when I'm with someone I know is gay. It's helps tremendously to consciously remove that awful feeling you have when you're with them.

AND...how could I forget...look at her with eyes Jesus would use.

I hope this helps! Let's pray for each other, ok? My name is Christine, by the way. GGG

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Christine,
Thank you so much for your word of wisdom! Isn' that the truth? I have consciously categorized that sin as a separate league on its own.Shame on me!yes , lets pray fo each other! God Bless!

Blogger Rachel Olsen said...

Hey gals, thanks for your comments and sharing your experiences. First Anon's comment cracked me up BTW.

And the other Anon offered great advice ... it is so much easier to forgive others when we allow ourselves to realize the depth of our own sin, rather than focusing just on others' crimes against us. Sinners are willing to forgive sinners.

I want to follow up on this friendship topic over at my blog. However this week I'm in the throws of the She Speaks conference so it may be next week before I can write the posts bouncing round my heart.

Until Then ~ R

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jessica! Where do you live? I'm in Durham, NC. (I'm Christine, I haf'ta get a google account one of these days)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. I definitely understand relating to men as opposed to women. I have just recently had to distance myself from a "toxic" friendship (or two). I have been afraid to get close because the problem doesn't just lie with the other person. I have my own issues (lack of boundaries and dysfunction) that I need to contend with as well. You get a little "gun shy" after having people who have hurt you or abused you in some way. When you have skewed boundaries there are certain people who are drawn to you, often those people are unsafe. It takes learning what healthy looks like to set good boundaries, I am in the process.

I had a friend tell me I was too nice and that people would take advantage of that, they did. You begin to wonder what "healthy" relationships look like. I have not seen that many of them and am longing to have some truly godly women friends. I have been praying for them, but God doesn't seem to be supplying at this point. Not sure what that is about but it is painful. I do pray for those who I have had to distance myself from as I understand that they are struggling also.

It was so nice to hear someone else who felt the same way. I was feeling very guilty for having to distance myself from some women that I had known. Right now I am in a lonely place and would appreciate your prayers for godly women friends and for healing for myself so that I can recognize them when I see them and so that I can be a faithful and godly friend for them as well.

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