Can women be friends? Too many women are quick to say NO. However, WSC’s goal is to develop a community of friends and to encourage our readers to cultivate female friendships that enhance both spiritual and emotional life.
I had an experience that highlighted how enriching and comforting female friendships can be, especially during a difficult season of life.
MY WORST AND BEST VALENTINE’S DAY
It was Valentine’s Day, but instead of a special dinner, I sat on the couch and watched my husband go up and down the stairs of our split entry home with boxes and luggage. He was moving out to be with another woman.
One year later I sit on the same couch with no plans. Instead, I replay the scene of my husband departing over and over in my mind. Engrossed in my thoughts I jump when the phone rings. At the other end, a familiar voice says, “Just called to invite you to spend Valentines’ Day with our family.”
Embarrassed, I stumble over my words “I don’t want to intrude on your celebration. I will bring everyone down.” The truth is that the memory of one year ago is still raw; and I want to submerge myself in self-pity and ice cream.
My young friend pleads, insists, and finally uses the kids as bait. “I already promised the kids. You can’t disappoint them. They love you. We all do. After all, Valentine’s Day is about love!” Hanging up the phone, my gloomy mood starts to dissipate.
Can women be friends? Well, last year a woman ruined my Valentines’ Day and this year a woman lifts my spirits. I smile to myself, wishing my former counselor had heard that call.
A COUNSELOR WEIGHS IN.
When my husband indicated he was unhappy and wanted out of the marriage, I had started going to counseling sessions, hoping my husband might come too. He didn’t.
Our discussion took many twists and turns during the session after my husband moved out of our home. Right before I left the office, she looked at me and said, “You’re single now. The women in your church will see you as a threat to their marriage. A support system is important, but you probably need to find it elsewhere.”
Devastated by my husband leaving, I was searching for advice on how to cope and move on. Did this Christian counselor just tell me to prepare for more abandonment?
You see, my female counselor answered the question: Can women be friends with a resounding NO, obviously believing that women are incapable of authentic friendships
ENTERING THE LION’S DEN
Two days later I walked into my church as I did every Sunday morning; however, that day was different because I was alone. Additionally, my anxiety increased due to my counselor’s words.
As the Sunday school superintendent, I opened the service. Could I get through this? How to begin? Some looked away. I saw pity on others’ faces. The awkward silence confused those unaware of the situation.
As the church matriarch talked with one of the deacons I saw her eyes fill with tears, and subsequently, she approached me and gave me a long heartfelt hug. Following her lead, others offered a deluge of comfort and kind words.
MY COUNSELOR WAS WRONG
During the next few weeks, the church’s sadness was palpable. One woman told me that there is “a time to mourn,” and this was one of those times.
The next months were full of difficulties, sadness, and obstacles to overcome, but my church family (including the women) were there with me every step of the way, pulling me over the wall when I was too weak to climb.
As I made my way through the world of divorce proceedings, there were calls just to talk, offers of financial help, cards with uplifting messages, and of course, prayer.
“By this, all will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 NKJV). Jesus doesn’t want the world to know the church because of our intellect, success, power, or cutting-edge programs. He wants the world to know that Christians are different by the way we love one another.
The people of my church exemplified the love Jesus discussed with His disciples. The women, in particular, were there for me throughout it all. Even a year later, this family reached out in love to ease the pain of Valentines’ Day.
CAN WOMEN BE FRIENDS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES?
As usual I turn to women of the Bible to answer questions. Were there any friendships? At first glance, the answer seems to be NO. However, if you dig deeper they are there, but not highlighted as say the Jonathan and David friendship.
The Midwives: They were told to kill baby boys born to the Hebrew women. They worked together and did not kill them and lied to the Pharaoh about why they were unable to follow his orders. They never betrayed each other or their female patients. (Exodus 1: 15-21)
Miriam: If you know Miriam’s story her life was one of ups and downs in faith, but still she had great moments. One was her friendship with women. When the Israelites miraculously made it through the Red Sea and the Egyptian army was drowned, Miriam rejoiced at God’s revenge on evil and faithfulness to His people, but she didn’t do this alone. The women united together as friends and believers in the God of Abraham. Miriam led them in song and dance. The joy these ladies found in God and each other was surely a special moment. (Exodus 15: 19-21)
Daughter of Jephthah: The father made a foolish vow that either ended his daughter’s life or her right to marry and have children. There is disagreement by scholars about how the vow was executed. However, before the vow was fulfilled her wish was to spend two months with her friends who wept with her. Many women in the Jewish faith come together in friendship to commemorate this daughter’s fate with an annual four day lament. (Judges 11: 36-40)
Elizabeth: What a gracious woman. She showed great compassion and friendship to Mary, the mother of Jesus. One of the first things Mary did after the miraculous conception was to visit Elizabeth. She knew this woman would believe there was a miracle and that Mary was carrying the Messiah. Elizabeth was also carrying a special child: John the Baptist. She could have been jealous of Mary’s higher status; instead she honored Mary and showed gratitude to God. (Luke 1: 39-45)
Lydia: A successful gentile business woman who spent her free time learning about the God of Abraham. She gathered with other woman in friendship to worship. She was open to learn from other woman about her new found faith. I can envision these ladies getting into the word, having deep theological discussions, and enjoying food and laughter together.
There are others including Dorcas and Daughters of Zelophehad who you read about in the article Voices and Choices Matter. Dorcas truly understood friendships and was a great example for us all. Of course, the daughters of Zelophehad banned together and were friends to one another during a difficult time in their lives. And then there is Ruth’s friendship with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth was one of my mentors that I wrote about in the Welcome blog post.
SO, CAN WOMEN BE FRIENDS?
Not only can they be friends, but the Bible tells us that friends provide wisdom (Proverbs 13:20), keep us on course spiritually (Proverbs 27:17), and help during times of trouble and burdens (Galatians 6:2).
Friendships are a gift from God. They provide support, advice, and spiritual encouragement. Friends enjoy time together, laugh often, and cry with and for one another.
My experience with my friends from church, along with examples from women of the Bible, prove female friendships can be genuine, honorable, loving, and joyful.
COMMENTS AND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
We can also share and encourage one another by commenting below. Like me, did you experience genuine Christian love from other women? More importantly, can you remember a time when you gave this kind of love to your sisters in Christ? Please leave your stories in the comment section below. I can’t wait to hear them.
If you want to learn some biblical principals to become a better friend, check out this article.