Sunday, May 27, 2007

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?


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