Do you have friends who are building you up or running you down?
Scripture tells us “Bad company ruins good morals,” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NASB). Bad company also runs you down. And the last thing a mom needs is to be running on empty.
On the other hand, scripture also tells us “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
I’m a mom who needs to be sharpened. I also need to be refreshed, warned, advised, encouraged, and understood. There’s a lot that I need in a friend. And as a mom, I’m willing to bet you do, too.
Sometimes you and I don’t actually choose our friends… They just find us and before we know it, we’re hanging out with someone who is either helpful in our lives or a hindrance.
However, Scripture tells us “the righteous choose their friends carefully” (Proverbs 12:26).
Here are some suggestions for the type of friends every mom needs. Use it as an inventory in your own life to see if you have a healthy, or unhealthy mix of company.
1. The fun friend. Let’s admit it. We all need someone who is fun to be with, who makes us laugh, who encourages us to set the work aside, have some fun, live a little. You and I can’t spend every waking moment with this friend because if we did, we’d never get anything done. But if you have a friend who can balance the fun with responsibility and maturity, and encourage you to let go of work now and then and not take yourself so seriously, you have found a treasure. Who encourages you to not take yourself so seriously?
2. The firm friend. I’m not talking about the woman who is constantly working out and has considerably less body fat than the rest of us. Although you and I need her, too (we’ll get to her later), we need a friend who will firmly tell us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear. While your fun friend may encourage you to laugh it off or live for the moment, your firm friend will often remind you of what’s best for you, even if it isn’t fun or even comfortable. She does this because of her love for you and her ability to see beyond the moment to what really matters. And if she’s able to be firm with a generous dose of grace and love, hold onto her. She is a rare gift. Who tells you what you need to hear instead of just what you want to hear?
3. The forward-moving friend. You’ve seen her. You probably even admire her. She gets excited about New Year’s resolutions and seeks out people to join her in them each January. She talks about what she’s reading, what she’s learning in her Bible study, or the latest class she’s taking to explore something new. Do you have someone to challenge you to be more healthy, read more books, think more deeply, hone your skills? We all need to keep moving forward personally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually so that by the time the kids move out, we know exactly what we are going to do next. Who challenges you to move beyond where you are right now?
4. The faithful friend. Every mom – every woman – needs a friend who will be there through thick and thin. Through the dark days, through the sick days, through the days you are having difficulty and just need someone to understand. But not only is the faithful friend always there, but she’s loyal – meaning she would never talk behind your back or re-evaluate the friendship if she thinks she’s giving more than you are. A faithful friend doesn’t keep track of how many times she has called you vs. how many times you take the initiative to call her. She will pick up with you wherever the two of you left off. The opposite of the faithful friend is the gossip or critic. Proverbs 16:28 says “a whisperer separates close friends.” Your faithful friend is the one who will never be whispering to others about you. Who can you always depend on, regardless of season or schedule?
5. The “faith-filled” friend. Do you tend to be a worrier? Do you stress out when a situation seems out of control? If you hang around others who do the same you will fuel each other’s fire of fear and doubt. That’s why every mom needs a faith-filled friend who doesn’t worry or talk about the “what ifs” but trusts in the Lord and helps fill up others with her faith. Yes it’s normal to have concern about your children and other situations that appear unsafe, uncertain, or unhealthy. But when concern crosses the line into worry, doubt, and fear, that’s when you need your faith-filled friend to remind you who is ultimately in control. The faith-filled friend also fills your tank and leaves you feeling more energized and stronger by being in her presence. This world is filled with drainers who empty us through cynicism, critical talk, complaining, and gossip. But a faith-filled friend will build you up with her attitude, and perspective. She is also quick to forgive and is the opposite of the angry or bitter woman who holds onto offenses and drags others down by the issues in her life. Proverbs 22:24 tells us not to befriend the bitter woman: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered.” But instead, we are to surround ourselves with others who can sharpen our faith and fill our tanks. Who strengthens your faith when it’s faltering and fills your tank when you’re running on empty?
The older I get the more I find that true friends are few and far between. If you have at least one friend in each category (or all the categories are covered by the few friends you have) you are rich beyond measure. And if there’s a friend on that list that you don’t yet have, you know what to look for… and the kind of friend to be as well.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and popular author who helps women find strength for the soul. She is the author of fifteen books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), Women on the Edge, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, and her most recent, When God Sees Your Tears. Her newest book, Ten Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, releases in March from Harvest House Publishers. For more on her writing and speaking ministry or for free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, or parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: December 4, 2015