I had the privilege of speaking this last weekend at a women's retreat. I spoke in the morning on 50 Shades of White: Biblical Sexuality for Women and in the evening on Living the Life Transparent: Building Female Friendships. Both topics were well received and the women asked some great questions.
As I prepared for the second talk on friendship I became thoroughly convinced that somewhere along the way we have decided that friendship is a luxury and not a necessity. In the rush of our daily life it is time (face-to-face time) with friends that seems to fall by the wayside.
When God called me to this topic I thought it would be an easy one. Instead, I found it challenging. It made me uncomfortable as I realized how poor a friend I have been this year in the midst of an unusually crazy schedule. It made me question what kind of example I have been setting in regards to friendship for my teenage daughters. It made me wonder if I would want to be friends with me.
God created friendship as his gift to us. He created us for relationship and intended for us to do life together. Francis Farmer said, "To have a good friend is the purest of God's gifts." Shauna Niequist wrote, "Friendship is God's best evidence of himself here on earth." Jesus himself modeled the importance of friendship throughout his life and ministry. In the few weeks prior to his death Jesus set aside his public ministry and instead spent time with his three closest friends (Peter, James & John) and with the disciples, his next closest group of friends.
As Christians, friendship gives us the opportunity for unity in Christ as we pray together, speak the truth in love to each other and encourage each other. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
God even created us to experience biological benefits when we invest in and develop female friendships. It is an antidote to stress, increases our immunity, and lowers our cholesterol, heart rate and blood pressure. In fact a Harvard study found that not having close friends gave us the same health risk as being obese or smoking.
God designed us to be in relationship and he gave us friendship as a gift. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Who do you have in your life that does that for you? And who are you doing it for in return? Because in the end friendship is not a luxury. It is a necessity.