Monday, June 13, 2011

Silver & Gold: Maintaining Key Friendships

Every mother needs a circle of friends, a group of women with whom she can connect on different levels: A friend we go to when we need advice about our children, a friend who laughs with us (and at us) when we're down, a friend who shows affection and compassion when we just need to cry.

I remember a song we used to sing in Girl Scouts:
Make new friends but keep the old: One is silver and the other gold.
At the time, I didn't really know what to make of the song. I was very young and had a lot of friends. But somehow, over the years, that song has stuck with me, and now, at thirty-one, I am beginning to understand the value of a good friendship and really yearn for an inner circle of true friends.

I have found that my friendships with women have carried me through some really difficult times. In graduate school I befriended a sweet woman who comforted and strengthened me as I struggled through a break-up with my now husband. She truly believed in me and often expressed freely how beautiful I was, giving me courage to stand on my own two feet when I just wanted to lie down and give up. A true friend!

When the birth of my second child didn't go as I had planned, another dear friend encouraged me continually and not once did she judge or criticize me in the decisions I made. She helped me to see that God's plan is far greater than mine and reminded me that He is in control. What a friend!

Somehow in the mix of getting married and starting a family, I let go of some bad friendships but also some golden ones. Children, a husband, and the keeping up of a household have been my excuses for not maintaining friendships with people I dearly cherish and love. Sadly, I have lost some good friends because I have not been able to see beyond my world. Alienation hurts, I know and am truly sorry.

Solomon taught that a true friend is loyal:
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
-Proverbs 17:17

There are plenty of fair-weather friends who loves us only when our friendship benefits them. But a good friend is available to help out any time, no matter the cost.

Friendships require a lot of work, energy that I often don't have, and time that seems so precious and fleeting. But the benefits of true women friends are a blessing that cannot be denied. I know that one day this season of motherhood will pass, and then I will need those friends even more than I do now.

Until then, I would encourage you to take some steps with me to be a better friend:

(1) Call or send a card. Don't just shoot an e-mail or a text, although that would be a good start, but really take the time to reach out to your friend. She will appreciate your sacrifice.

(2) Be available. If your friend calls and needs advice or comfort, don't just let the phone go to your voice mail. Take it and give your friend the time she needs to vent, cry, or share her news. A true friend loves at all times, even in the middle of dinner.

(3) Pray. Know your friend's needs and longings and pray for her daily. Tell your friend you are praying for her. There is no greater feeling than to know someone is thinking about and praying for you.

How do you maintain key friendships despite the busyness of life? What are some other ways you reach out to your friends?

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