When the Circle is Empty

I have had several comments on the posts about girl friends from ladies who are at a time in their lives where their circle of friends is very small — or even nonexistent.  For these women, going out for coffee isn’t always possible.  The facts are, we all will probably have a time in our lives where our circle of friends is empty.

When I was twelve our family had a circle of friends that were very close.  We had been friends for years through our church.  Yet when we moved to another church, our friends went a different direction.  We didn’t see them so often.  Now they are still our friends, but not nearly so close as they were before.  Following were three years where my friend base wasn’t that big.

During those three years, however, we joined the drama group for girls I have mentioned, and through that group, I made an entirely new circle of friends.  These were girls of all ages, while before they had been mostly younger than me.  The friends from those years are the friends that are closest to me now.  Also, when we began going to the church we attend currently, I met more girls and guys my age who became part of my circle.  But in order to reach this time of fullness in friendship, my circle had to be empty first.

Sometimes God takes certain things from us to keep Him as our first priority.  While it can be hard not having what it seems all other women and girls have — a great group of girlfriends — God is not allowing it arbitrarily.  He knows the longings of your heart. 

I had one girl write me with an opposite problem:  she had all girl friends, and no guy friends.  While I would definitely say that girls need to be your best friends, no matter what age you are, but girls can get petty and small at times, and in these times guy friends are refreshing.  She wanted to know if it was a natural desire to want to have young men as friends.  It is!  Titus was advised by Paul to treat the young women as sisters, and the young men as brothers — but he was not advised to avoid them.  As I said before, having young men friends will help you understand how they think when you enter the courtship age.  For this particular girl, her desire was to expand her friend base in gender.  God knows that desire just like any other woman’s — and in His time, He will fulfill it.

Married women often say (and I believe they should) that their husband is their best friend.  When you are married, guy friends are unadvisable unless it is a ‘couple friend’, as in, two couples that are friends with each other.  Obviously, my mother does not have male friends just to chat with like she does my dad.  HE is her priority.  However, they do couple dates quite often with their friends.  She also has a few great girl friends she goes out with now and then.  But she doesn’t find her security in them, because if she did, when they left or had to move like our first circle, she would be crushed.  My father and God have to be her foremost friends, just like they have to be ours.

On the topic of friends is family.  I used to be desperate for friends while totally ignoring the fact that I had sisters.  Granted, I LIVE with my sisters, and not with my friends.  Sisters don’t always get along!  As time has gone on, however, we have become much better buddies.  There can still be some friction since we are very, very different.  For instance, Ella is the tomboy, lumberjack-gone-girly type; Autumn is the funky-layered-laugh-a-lot-   didn’tthinkthatwouldgotogether type, and I am the prissy-ultrafeminine-don’t-break-a-nail-type.  Somehow, we all ended up in the same house.  Yet your family is the first friend base you should have before all others.  Outside friends come after;  blood is thicker than water, you know.

Thus, there may be a time when you will not have the friend base you wish for.  Instead of evaluating yourself or your life in view of the number of friends you have, use this time to learn what it means for the Lord to be your best friend.  If you are married, then the Lord and your husband become your best friends.  There will still be a desire for girl friends who can understand certain things from a feminine perspective, but God will fulfill the desires of those who delight in Him (Ps. 37:4).  Trust your best Friend to fill your circle, and it won’t feel so empty anymore.


What Friends Are For

“A friend loves at all times.”  (Proverbs 17:17)

That’s a big order.  What kind of person loves at all times?  Well — a friend!  This week I will be posting somewhat regularly on friendship:  what makes a good friend, more on friendships with boys and in a few weeks forward, on what can destroy a friendship from the inside out.  But for today, I am going to be talking about girlfriends — those wonderful, laughable, giggly gals you have in your circle of closest relationships.

The thing about good girlfriends is the fact that they can share in your feelings, understand your mentality, comprehend your situations and support you in trial.  While guy friends are great (we’ll revisit their whole end of the deal at a later date) girl friends are going to be able to identify with you much better than guys.   Men have an entirely different outlook on life than women; they tend to be much more practical, less emotional, and often simplified (not simple!) in their thinking.  Their comprehension of the world is less complex than a woman’s.  For instance, in a romantic relationship the woman might go home after a date evaluating the inflection of the second syllable in ‘Can I see you again?’, while the man may simply go home thinking, “Wow, nice girl.  Glad she accepted another date.  What’s in the fridge?”

So friends that are girls can be a wonderful support to you.  Unfortunately, good friends can be hard to come by.  A ‘good friend’ is not defined by how much she laughs at your jokes or how many times you go out for coffee;  a good friend is defined by her character.  “Do not be deceived:  bad company corrupts good morals.”  (1 Cor. 15:33).  A woman of good character will encourage you to become a better woman yourself; one that lacks spiritual stability or who does not take seriously her walk with God will lead down her path if you spend ‘quality time’ with her.

What are the qualifications for a good friend?  There are several Scripture passages that can point to what she needs to be.  One of them is what I used for my WONDERFUL group of girls and boys here up north:  1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  Since we know a true friend ‘loves at all times’, what does it mean to ‘love’?  According to that passage, love is “patient and kind, love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.”

A true friend will either possess or be working on these qualities in her own life.  Most likely, it will be a combination of both!  We all struggle with specific temptations and sins.  This is very important to note, because what you require in a friend you must also be.  You know what they say:  “If you wish to have a friend, you need to be one.”  The standard you set for yourself will actually determine which friends you have.  If you are passionate about Christ, there will be people who don’t like you.  But you can bet it won’t be the ones who are passionate about Christ!  The same goes for hobbies and interests — a writer like myself doesn’t have a lot of girlfriends that like to hike.  I have friends that are artsy, intellectual, musical, and literary.  Who you are, what your motivations and interests are, will effect what friends are closest to you.

To check yourself on your Love Gauge, I suggest picking up a Bible and finding that passage in 1 Corinthians.  Read through verses 4-8 replacing your name for the word ‘love’.  Convicting, isn’t it?  Once you have done it, evaluate what you need to work on to be a better friend — and to better glorify Christ.  Meanwhile, perhaps you can find a very close girlfriend to keep you accountable… which gives you an excellent excuse to go out for coffee!!