Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.
If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.
– Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
This week on the show, we discuss our girlfriends. Female friendships can be some of the most nourishing relationships of our lives. They can also be not-so-wonderful at times. Here are some bible-based tips for helping your girlfriend relationships be great.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” In other words: you are who you hang out with! When Jully Black was on the show, she said that when she was turning her life around, she had to change her friend group to reflect the health-focused, positive, God-loving woman she wanted to become. Proverbs 22:24-25 takes it a step further: “Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.” Yowza!
But it’s true. In past seasons, I was drawn to “fun people” – hard-living partiers and the gossipy coffee morning set. Let’s just say that they did not bring out the best in me. When it comes to friendships, I now ask for that still small voice of discernment to guide me and ask myself, “Do I feel better or worse – at a heart level – after spending time with this person?” I have learned that I am better off having fewer friends and spending more time deepening my friendships with the people who bring out my best
Beware the Frenemies
While the term frenemy has been around since the 1950s, the idea of friends who secretly dislike one another was popularized in the early 2000s with the success of books like Queen Bees and Wannabes and the movie Mean Girls. But scripture told us about the mean girls thing long before that. Proverbs 18:24 warns us that “There are “friends” who destroy each other…”
Women’s friendships can be complex and competitive if we are not careful. Not only have I had a few frenemies in the past, but I’ve not been an ideal friend either. I’ve felt jealous of friends and have resented it when they got opportunities I wanted. And I’ve gossiped about girlfriends in order to gain points socially. One of my resolutions is to become a better friend: to eliminate gossip and to be nurturing and encouraging and genuinely happy for others.
Even in the context of our Christian life, friendships can be complicated. I’ve been at small groups where a request for prayer was simply veiled gloating. You know, it’s the “Please pray for my beautiful, talented daughter as she chooses among the many full-ride scholarships she’s been offered at all of the Ivy League schools” sort of thing. Group prayer can also be a forum for veiled gossip as we pray over someone’s scandal. Ask God to help you pray for your friends in a way that is most encouraging.
Become a Better Friend
To have a good friend, you need to be a good friend, just like your mom and kindergarten teacher told you. And being a good friend means putting in some solid effort! There is a beautiful passage in Job 2:11 that takes place after Job has suffered many hardships: “When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him.” In ancient times, travelling was inconvenient and possibly dangerous: people did not just hop in an Uber! But Job needed his friends, and so they went. And when they saw the condition Job was in, they empathized with him. Then, “they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.” Often when we are hurting, we just want a friend to sit with us in our pain. Simply being there for each other is one of the best gifts friends can give to each other.
In John 15:12-15, Jesus tells his disciples how to be a good friend. To paraphrase, friends help each other, listen to each other, share information, and confide in each other. Friendships do not have a power imbalance like in a master-servant relationship. And if needed, a friend will lay down her own life for another. This does not always mean that we need to be willing to die for our friends. But we should be willing to die to self in order to make their lives better. Tell your friend about that great kids program even if it means there might be one less space for your child. Share that recipe even if your friend might make it better than you do. Invite her to the sample sale even though you have the same size feet and she might grab the pair of boots you’ve been eyeing.
Friendship involves an element of sacrifice, but it’s always worth it. There is a saying, “Shared joy is double joy; Shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” Good girlfriends make our lives easier and more fun. If you are in a girlfriend drought, ask God to bring good friends into your life. Lisa-Jo Baker’s book Never Unfriended also offers some practical advice.
And if you are in a season of having many good girlfriends, rejoice and cherish them deeply: friendships can be one of life’s sweetest gifts.