Friendships of Women, Part 2- Learn From One Another

"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17

To me, the sharpening process-- growing and learning together --is one of the most exciting aspects of friendship. We all need to be challenged. It is easy to have friends that will let us go on in our selfish, sinful ways. But finding a friend who will sharpen you- who will challenge you to become more than you are- and who will grow along side you... that is much more difficult to find.

In the last post in this series, we talked about how to find a friend. Today, we'll talk about selecting a friend you can learn from.

Find a woman who challenges you- someone who sees things a little differently than you do. Perhaps she has a child with a disability, or maybe she's dealt with years of infertility. Perhaps she is caring for an aging parent or grandparent, or maybe her husband is serving in the military. Don't look for a woman who shops at all the same places, wears all the same things, or decorates her house the same way you do. Look for someone who does things slightly different from the people around her. Maybe she homeschools, maybe she recycles, maybe she volunteers somewhere... whatever the case, look for a godly woman who makes you think "outside the box".

No one woman can teach every bit of biblical knowledge, every admirable character quality, or every skill. But every woman who is seeking to grow in Christ can teach you something.

If she never had children, she may not be able to share with you how to raise children... or if she doesn't have a tidy house, housekeeping may not be the thing to "glean" from her, but take time to learn the things from her that she CAN teach you. If she's seeking the Lord and has some life experience, then there are undoubtedly things she can teach you- even if she doesn't realize it, so glean all you can from this woman. Sit at her feet (figuratively, but maybe even literally) and let her share with you.

For me, it is helpful to find a friend that's in a different stage of life than you are - if you have preschool kids like I do right now, that would mean either someone without kids, or maybe a new mom with one baby, a mom of teenagers or
a woman who already has an empty nest... it seems that it makes getting together easier when you're not both dealing with the same things all at once. Another reason this is important to me is so that I don't fall into the grade-school mentality: that everyone I hang out with has to be just like me. It is important that we broaden our acquaintances to include women from the whole body of Christ and not just that little sliver of a cross-section that looks just like we do.

I would challenge you to look around you and begin asking the Lord to show you a godly woman who is admirable, someone from whom you can learn-- a woman who will challenge you, and a woman to whom you can be an encouragement. Begin looking for her and once you find her, be willing to ask questions, get to know her, and sit at her feet and glean all you can. Not only will you be learning, but you'll be edifying and encouraging her by letting her know that you find her interesting and wise.

As your friendship grows, go out of your way to love and encourage her in meaningful ways. Perhaps she's a young mom who has just started nursing a baby- could you bring her a box of nursing pads and a good book to read while she's nursing? Or perhaps she's lonely and you could get your husband to watch all the kids while you take time to go out to dinner with her? Try to look for ways to give back meaningfully to her as well.

"Let me sum up"- Inigo Montoya (can you tell I've watched Princess Bride lately?)
Let us be women who learn from one another's mistakes and successes... I don't want to have to learn the same lessons that the women around me have already learned (if I can help it)! I'd rather hear
their stories, listen to their parenting ideas, hear about the things that work in their marriages and then implement all those things into my own life rather than trial and error from the Christian-self-help-book-o-the-month.

I want to challenge other women and be challenged by other women. To do that, I have to step outside of my natural, comfortable instincts (of only seeking out people that act like me, look like me, talk like me, and walk like me) and instead seek out women who will make me consider new perspectives, learn new things, and become a more wholly consistent person, as I am challenged to think about what I believe and why.

Questions? Thoughts?


Christina said...

These are some good points. Recently I was in a group that met weekly for accountability and friendship. It ended very badly. Some of the women took the "iron sharpens iron" to mean that they need to poke people. Truth was spoken but without much love. It has made me very wary about being open to that level again. Most of this happened to another woman in the group while I was on bed rest with my last preganancy, but I had my share of being poked too. I came to find out later that almost all of the women in the group were on medication for depression or serious illness. I'm not sure how much that may have played into the situation. I spent six months pretty much isolated because of the bed rest then the next year pretty lonely also. We were in the middle of changing churches and homeschool groups and I had an infant. I see a lot of potential for friendships at the church we are involved with now. I am praying that as God sends me new friends He will help me to know how I need to interact differently with women to be a better friend. I know that I contributed to some of what happened in that group, even though I have a hard time seeing what it was. I am also praying that I will not retreat into my own little corner and close off people just because I've been hurt.

Thanks for doing this series. It's a good way for me to process and think about what happened and look forward too.

BTW, "The Princess Bride" is a great movie!

Anna S said...

Most of my friends do have a different point of view on some things; not as much as to turn every conversation into an argument, but enough to make our discussions interesting!

Thank you!

Allena said...

your series on friendships is great it really has helped me b/c i'm trying to convey this to the women of the church i'm attending now. plus being new to the area it helps remind me who to look for, for friendship.
thank you

Andrea said...

Yes, I really like other women who are different from me, and who I can learn from, but on the other hand, I also like to have someone like me who enjoys doing and talking about the same things as me and who is in the same "season" as me.

Jess said...

Your point is a good one... I'm not advocating friendships ONLY with women that are not the same age... but rather, my aim is to encourage women to seek out women different than those they would normally be drawn to. Most women easily find themselves gravitating towards women with whom they share season-of-life issues: newly married, pregnant, breastfeeding, child rearing, school ages, empty nesting, etc. But my aim here is to encourage women to go beyond even that...

I hope that's clear enough- I certainly would not advocate for avoiding women who are in the same season- certainly there is good in that (think of Elizabeth and Mary celebrating their pregnancies together). Hopefully we can have women friends, though, from ALL stages of life- not just the one we're in. :)


Mom said...

I really appreciate this article about friendship. I have always sought out different aged friends, different ways of thinking friends, etc. One of my friends, who you know, was well older than me, and took me under her wing, and showed me how to make a wonderful pie crust. I spent a whole day with her, and loved every minute of it. Then, completely the opposite, I just recently struck up a friendship with a 10 year old girl this past year. We hung out a lot and made jewelry together, and I got a lot of fantastic hugs too! God brings so many people into our lives and if we look around and keep our options open and listen to Him, we can be so blessed.