I Need a Friend
Ruth 1:16-18 “But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.”
Friend to Friend
Friendship is the catalyst for every other love and the foundation of every healthy relationship. In his book, “The Broken Heart”, Dr. James J. Lynch shows that lonely people live significantly shorter lives than the general population. In other words, God created us to need each other. We need friends.
I have been a woman in ministry – forever! My best friends have always been with women in the church where I ministered. Have I been burned? Yes. Have I been betrayed and disappointed? Yes. Has it been worth it? Absolutely! I believe many friendship problems arise because we don’t fully understand and accept three basic facts about friendship:
Fact 1: Friendships have many different levels. There are friends we see occasionally and then there are soul-mates with whom we share everything! There is a place for both in our lives.
Fact 2: Friendships may change with the seasons of life. We are naturally drawn to women who face the same problems and share the same dreams.
Fact 3: We all need friends. Friendship is part of God’s plan for our lives.
Jesus placed great value on relationships. The Bible tells us that He spent much of His time deepening relationships with a few - not the crowds! His teachings are filled with practical suggestions on how to be a friend and how to have healthy relationships. One of most beautiful portraits of friendship is found in the book of Ruth. It is the story of Naomi, a godly woman, a wife and the mother of two married sons.
Naomi’s husband and sons died, leaving three women alone, Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. Because they had neither food nor money and no certainty of what the future might hold, Naomi chose to return to
First Key: Time
Ruth says, “Where you go I will go. Where you stay I will stay”. Ruth was willing to commit her life and time in friendship. Friendship doesn’t just happen. True friendship takes consistent investments of time! Time spent together in friendship creates a memory bank from which we can make withdrawals when tough times come and we need encouragement. Time is a priceless gift and one of the most powerful communicators of love. When we are willing to give 30 minutes of time, we are actually giving 30 minutes of life! Ruth was willing to sacrifice her entire life agenda for the sake of her friendship with Naomi.
We live in a “quick-fix” world that often fails to understand or address the relationship truth that it takes time to build a friendship. It is so easy to fill every time slot of every day with activity, leaving little or no room for friends. The waters of life are often difficult to navigate. True friends are willing to get in the boat and ride out the storm with us.
We tend to reside in time instead of investing it. The depth of the friendship depends upon the investment of time we can make or the investment of time we are willing to make. I have a friend, Michelle Johnson, who is the perfect example of a friend who was willing to invest time in our relationship. Michelle and I first met at a church where she and her husband, Jay, were small group teachers while Dan was the youth pastor. We were not especially close because our paths rarely crossed, but when Dan was called to be the pastor of a nearby church, Michelle and her family joined us in ministry. Our children were in school together and we were both involved in women’s ministry. As our paths crossed more frequently, we became friends. Then, during a two-year battle with clinical depression, we moved into the neighborhood where Michelle and Jay lived. Michelle made a choice. She chose to invest large chunks of time, walking with me through those dark years. As a result, her friendship is beyond measure in my life. Friendships take time!
I know many of you are lonely, struggling to find encouragement, someone who understands and is willing to invest time in your life. You are not alone. We are many. My heart is so burdened for the woman who feels as if no one cares. It is time for us to reach out to each other. Take the time to cultivate friendships. Be willing to invest time in others, knowing that God will redeem it in your life as friendship.
Father, I recognize the truth that I need to be a good friend before I can find a good friend. Help me learn how to invest time in relationships with other women. Give me the courage to risk rejection as I seek friends. Remind me that time is invested – not spent – and that one of the greatest investments I can make is in other people – friends. Amen.
Now it's Your Turn
- What is your greatest fear in cultivating friendships? Why?
- What changes in your daily schedule do you need to make in order to have time for friends?
- What are the qualities you long to find in friendship?
- Read the story of Naomi and Ruth in the first chapter of Ruth. Jot down insights and new perspectives about friendship.
More from the Girls
It’s not like it used to be, when my mom was growing up. Friendship was a priceless commodity in her day. Time was taken to sit and visit. Schedules were gladly altered to fit in time for a friend. Not so in today’s world. I wonder how our lives would be impacted if we made friendship a priority? I suspect that we would look more like our Father, the greatest Friend of all.
For more on this topic, see Experiencing God, a CD by Mary Southerland.
Girlfriends in God, Inc.
Originally published Tuesday, 26 September 2006.