While there is a place for befriending and witnessing to unbelievers, they should not be our closest friends. Everything about an unbeliever's life is in contrast to a true believer's life. The foundation upon which we build everything is different. Even though every homeschool group I have joined has been a Christian group, there are still unbelievers in the midst. For this reason, we must be careful in choosing our closest friends. 

Not only should our friends be believers, but they should also be like-minded. I have often found myself among women who were not. They might have been "keepers at home," but being their husband's helpmeet was not a priority. They did not have the same parenting beliefs, or they held very different values and morals. Like-mindedness is a significant part of a healthy friendship.

Another aspect of a healthy friendship is proper priorities. In our first two years of homeschooling, my children and I met friends every Friday at 11 a.m. for lunch. We would then go to co-op classes, skating, or to the park for the children to play. Some of my favorite memories from when my children were little revolve around those Fridays. Although we met once a week, however, my friends and I had an understanding. We rarely talked to each other on the phone during the day. School had to be a priority. And we did our best not to call at night or on the weekends when our husbands were home. Family had to be a priority. If we did something in the evenings together, it usually included our entire families. There were special occasions, like birthdays, when just the ladies would get together—but those times were rare.

A friend who will continually take a wife away from her husband or a mother away from her children is no friend at all. My friends understood this. The reason my "walking friend" and I met at 5:30 was not because we were both morning people who typically got up early. It was because our children were sleeping. My husband had been working all night and was sleeping as well. Her husband was getting ready for work. We were not needed at home. 

On those days when we had a sick child or were needed at home for some other reason, we did not walk together. Our homes were a priority. This did not hinder our friendship, but helped it to flourish as we encouraged each other to be what God intended us to be as wives and mothers. 

All of this brings us to another, very essential element of healthy friendships. As Christians, our truest friends need to be encouraging. A woman needs encouragement in her marriage, as a mother, and in her walk with the Lord.

Years ago, a friend who was separated from her husband came to me for advice. I did my best to strengthen her in her faith and to point her to scripture. She later told me that mine was the only counsel she received that encouraged her to seek the Lord and focus on saving her marriage.  "God is always for reconciliation," I told her. The saddest part of the story is that everyone else she talked to said they were Christians. Yet their advice did not line up with the Bible. How discouraging it must be for someone going through trials to have unbiblical advice given.

My friends and I have an unwritten rule: we never speak poorly of our own husbands or other women's husbands. The last thing a woman needs is to have her "friends" belittle her husband. While it might make her feel better for a time to have her friends agree with her about some flaw of his, it is really to her detriment and shame. Husband and wife are one; therefore, to tear down a husband is to tear down a wife.

Not only is marriage relentlessly under attack in our culture, but motherhood is as well. A true friend will encourage us in godly motherhood. Children are precious gifts from God, given to us for just a short amount of time. A true friend understands this and will help a mother be the best she can be.