I’ve mentioned before how important relationships are, and recently discussed how friendships are so important for your faith. I think as we get older it becomes easier to befriend people of all ages and not really see age, or different stages of life, as a barrier between whether or not we can have a bond. I started to see this after I graduated high school and even before I came to know Jesus. But once I started getting involved with my church, I quickly realized how necessary it was for me to surround myself with people of the faith, specifically women, who could help me on my walk.
Initially I sought out peers. In other words, I sought out those in the church who had the same spiritual maturity level as me. As great as that was, I knew I needed more than those who looked and thought like I did. I wanted to grow closer to Jesus, so I needed to befriend those who were ahead of me in their walk. As I have grown in my faith, I have learned that there is a trail of sisters behind me hoping that I will share my wisdom with them so that they can get to where I am now.
I just described three types of relationships right there: the peer, the mentor, and the apprentice. ALL THREE are so important for your faith. Let me tell you why.
1. The Peer
This is the easiest friend to make because these are the people who are in the same stage of life, spiritual maturity, and/or age bracket as you. You can easily share your experiences with one another because you’re literally just stumbling across the same obstacles along the way. You can encourage one another, study together, and share testimonies about what God is doing currently in your life. You need this friend because they just “get it”. Proverbs 27:17 puts it this way, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another”. As you grow together, you’ll be able to push each other closer to Jesus. You’ll be able to pray for one another when times get tough, and you’ll be able to celebrate in the blessings together. This friend is important for these things.
So obviously, the peer could very easily be a male. But here’s why I think you really need a female peer friendship. Women have different struggles than men, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. As much as I share with my husband about my struggles, it has definitely benefited me to have friends who are struggling, or have recently struggled with similar things. For instance, women tend to be anxious about different things than men. Being able to talk about my anxieties with my girlfriends has made me feel that I am not alone, that I am supported, and that I will get through it, where a man may have simply just not understood, and that’s not his fault. It’s just the way we were made.
2. The Mentor
In order to push yourself closer to Jesus, you need someone who is closer to Him than you are. Plain and simple. You need wise counsel on how to get to where you want to be. Women who are more spiritually mature than you, in the next stage (or next few stages) of life as you, and who have more life experience can speak so much truth into you when you just aren’t sure what to do next. As I have been growing in my walk with Jesus I have sought out many older sisters in the faith for encouragement through the muddy seasons in my life, for wisdom on how to weather a storm, and for guidance on what to study, how to pray, and where to find my refuge (DISCLAIMER: that one is always Jesus, but sometimes I forget).
It’s the older women in my life that have shared with me how to be a God-fearing wife, and a praying wife. Titus 2:3-5 says “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Your mentor friendship will teach you just by the way they live. They will exhibit these behaviors that are described in Titus 2. They will be someone to look up to, self controlled, pure, workers of the home, kind, and submissive to their husbands. Yeah, yeah, I know. We don’t like that last one. Well, I will tell you, I had to learn what it meant to be a God-fearing, submissive wife, and I learned it gracefully from the female mentors in my life. They didn’t teach it to me with words, or with a lesson. Rather, I was able to learn what it meant by watching how they respected their husbands.
3. The Apprentice
As we grow in our faith, there are more and more people meeting Jesus every day. This means that, as we grow, it becomes our turn to share our experiences with the less spiritually mature. It’s our turn to share how Jesus has transformed our lives, how we have started living according to the Word of God, and how our relationships have molded because of God’s love.
For a while, I was afraid to be friends with christians who seemed to have “one foot in, and one foot out”. I felt like my faith was not strong enough to be friends with Christians who were “hypocritical”, “not living according to God’s word”, or “weekend warriors”. Let me just share that God had to do a number on my heart with this because that was totally unfair to so many people. And I was actually robbing myself of the opportunities God was presenting in front of me to grow by teaching.
I still consider myself to be a young adult and most definitely a “young Christian”. I mean, I am only 25 years old, and I have only been a Christian for about 3.5 years now. I feel like I have so much to learn, and for the longest time believed the lie that I had nothing important to share with others. I know now that this was just satan trying to keep me quiet, and robbing me of the joy of sharing in someone else’s spiritual growth.
I started volunteering with the youth in my church about a year and a half ago and befriended quite a few of the teens involved. I gotta say, most nights I learned more from those girls that I feel like I taught them. But I know now how important it is to share with the next generation. 1 Timothy 4:12 says “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” By being an example for the youth, I have watched them watch me. I have watched them start making subtle but crucial changes to their demeanor, dress, and attitudes toward others. I’ve even watched some of them make the incredibly life changing choice to be baptized. I never would have had that opportunity had I not chosen to sow into the lives of someone younger, or trailing behind me on their walk with Jesus.
Honestly I cannot stress enough how important relationships are for your faith in general, but there’s something special about digging deeper with other women. There’s something women can teach you that you just can’t learn from the men in your life, though they are extremely important as well. Maybe I will write a separate post about that. I don’t know? You tell me!
I strongly encourage you to surround yourself with women of faith both old, young, and going through the same stage of life as you because, my sweet friend, you can learn from all of them, just as I have.