If I have a friend with whom to share life, I will hold fast to my ideals.
Pimen Nikitich Orlov 1845
In the past couple of weeks, I have met on a couple of different occasions with sweet women who have opened their hearts. Both, mature, loving, committed to ideals and holding fast to investing their lives in their children and marriage, but both experiencing such isolation and loneliness.
In our culture at this time in history, it is very easy to feel alone, especially when one feels called to focus her time and life on raising godly children, making a home that is the center of life and cultivating spirituality intentionally.
The pressures that come with 24 hour a day children in the home, the housework, the messes, the education of each child and the load of work associated with these ideals can deplete a woman constantly.
It is why Clay and I sought to develop small groups of women based around common ideals and why we are hoping to build a network of these women. It is why the girls and I wrote Girls’ Club, to try to foster strong female friendships and to build community so that women can join arm in arm across life, ideals and great causes. We need time to laugh and love and have fun and share our deepest struggles and challenge each other to ideals--and to feel that someone in the world "gets" you, loves you and will pray for you.
I have been working so much lately on our conferences, book launch, podcasts and keeping up with packing for 4 cities and then Oxford, leaving in a couple of days. I was feeling a bit lonely and dry—all work and no play makes Sally a cull girl.
I quickly called one of my friends I speak of in our Girls’ Club book. She is truly one of the most devoted women I know and always, always encourages me, prays for me and helps me feel loved. She is 14 years older than me.
“Come over for a quick cuppa! I would love to see you.”
Predictably, when I arrived, she had a cup of coffee waiting, a little dish of ginger cookies, a candle lit and said, “Now, let’s be friends.”
Though I stayed only an hour. She encouraged me, prayed for me, asked about my welfare and when I left, I was restored. My heart was at least partially filled and I felt I could make it through my week.
All women, especially mamas who are at home with tiny, demanding wee ones, need the regular encouragement, love, fun, sympathy and support of other like-minded women to make it through their days with strength and grace to make it through their days.
It is why we wrote our book, to help women understand the profound importance of being intentional to cultivate that few inner circle women who will link arm in arm to be the kind of friends we all need for life.
I have been accused of using this word often—cultivate—because it is what needs to be done in relationships.
Webster’s dictionary describes the word “cultivate” as this:
“to promote or improve the growth of by labor and attention”, “to devote oneself to”, “to seek to promote or foster” and “to seek the acquaintance or friendship of”. All of these definitions are very clear.
To cultivate is not a passive activity. It is one that takes work and attention and care.
I have never seemed to have very much pause in life. The demands of my children, husband, friends, work, ministry, life have drained me on a regular basis. It is quite exhausting sometimes to be responsible!
Cultivate insinuates you have to slow down, pause, water what needs to grow, care for it—and so it is with friendship—it must be planted, watered, receive nourishment and have time to grow. And all of us need to remember that unless we plant, we will not reap.
Sarah, Joy and I talk about how to Cultivate Deep friendships
1.Take initiative and reach out. . Remember; cultivate means “to devote oneself to”. Ask the Lord to show you ways to cultivate a friendship with someone.
2. Encourage—look at the friend’s eyes—what do they tell you? How might you give words of encouragement to lift the other up.
2. Listen. Be someone who listens, not just talks. Make sure you know you are available to listen. People are not mind readers. You must tell them.
3. Support and do acts of kindness. Ask the Lord ways in which you can show love in action to friends.
4. Pray. Pray for your friends. Tell them you are praying for them. Ask them how you can pray for them. Ask them to pray for you.
5. Be dependable—through all seasons of life. Be a safe friend who can be trusted not to judge or criticize, but to love—Remember: love covers a multitude of sin.
We talk about more ways we have found to be friends to one another today.
Be sure to order your copy of the Girl’s Club Series. We know you will be glad you did. Stories to help keep all of us faithful to God and our ideals He has called us too.