By Elisabeth Corcoran
I believe that God wants me to have friends that will walk through this life with me. One of the best parts of my life is the amazing friendships I have. I lean on my girlfriends. God provides so much tangible love and support through my friends.
In fact, a while back, I was having a pretty big struggle in my marriage. And two women seemingly dropped into my life just for that season and just for that issue. I am stronger in my relationship with God and in my marriage, due in large part to their support. I have two girlfriends that I'm in an accountability relationship with - we've opened up our lives to each other and we pray for each other - because we know the value of living out our lives in community. I even have a friend that cares for me so much that she has helped me try to mend a relationship with a mutual friend. This is what true friends do.
"The rule of the universe," wrote C.S. Lewis to his friend, is "that others can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and one can paddle every canoe except one's own". For me, cultivating my friendships is a necessity - and it should be for you as well.
I read in a magazine article that the divorce rate is high partly because women are isolated from each other. It mentioned that so many of the things a healthy marriage needs, such as accountability, emotional support and prayer, flow from women's friendships.
So make the time to develop those female friendships. No matter what season of life you're in, you'll need to be creative:
§ Start a playgroup - let the kids run wild while you have lunch.
§ Meet at Chuck E Cheese or a park in the middle of the week with a girlfriend and her kids.
§ Find a church that you love and start attending and plugging in.
§ Get in a small group that meets regularly.
§ Find a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group in your area.
§ Something I took advantage of last year was my kids' naptime. I have a few different friends who either aren't mothers yet or have kids in school - they would come to my house during naptime to catch up or for a more formal study time together (that way, I was accomplishing building my friendships with these women, while not having to leave my house or my husband or the kids one more time each week).
§ Other tips: use e-mail; make dinner dates while a sitter watches the kids; send funny or encouraging cards to each other; celebrate special occasions together; just celebration your friendship together.
All these suggestions simply to say - friends are going to be one of your main lifelines during these years - so find them and work at making them strong. It will be an investment of time that you will never regret.
And if you find yourself in a lonely season friendship-wise, it may mean that you'll need to take the first step. Most relationships begin because one person took a risk to share their heart with someone. But it will be well worth your effort if you do.
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