From the Bible
“Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers or slaves to drink. They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble, So that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children, To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited).” Tit 2:3-5 (AMP)
Relational at heart
We are designed not for isolation but for relation. We, as women especially, have been created with a desire to connect with others in a meaningful way. Our first and foremost human connection is with our husbands and second to that, those select few, those friends with whom we share our heartaches, our hopes, our frustrations, our successes.
In our friends we look for individuals with similar values, moral codes, belief systems and a general desire to move in the same direction in life. Our journeys are as unique as each of us but our friends are often there, at the side of the road, ready to create some respite before we continue onwards. Or so it should be…
The nature of friendship
Friendships are created on the mutual desire to create / find the best for the other party. These relationships are built on trust, empathy, sympathy and compassion and they should offer honest advice even when it is difficult to share the truth. Unfortunately I believe that:
- We have dumbed-down the purpose of friendship. Friendship should offer more than occasional relief or gossip. Our friends should be the ones encouraging us onward in difficult situations.
- We have forgotten the true value of friendship. The true value of a friend lies in their ability to offer you an honest word without fear of destroying the relationship. When we can’t see the bigger picture because we get caught up in our own melodrama and perspective, they should be the ones offering us the helicopter view. Even when we don’t want to hear the truth.
- We have neglected to nurture and grow the fruits of friendship in our own lives. Paul reminds Titus to teach the women in his church to give good counsel, to be wise and sober, to be kind, chaste and self-controlled. They must be encouraged to submit to their husbands and create homes for their families. And they must train the younger women in the church. We should not only be looking for these qualities in our friends, we should offer them in ourselves!
A friend worth having
Paul encourages Titus to get the older women in the congregation to train and model behaviour to the younger women. I believe that we have a duty as woman after God’s heart, to work at planting the seeds of all the Titus Two women into our own lives. This means that we should:
- Look for friends who look to God. Spend time with friends and other women who spend time with God. Learn from them, engage with them and relate with them about the truths the Bible offers. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and counsel on matters of marriage and being a woman after God’s own heart. As women committed to our marriages and children, we need to make sure that we draw our strength from our Heavenly Father who has given us this divine calling. Your friends should be encouraging you in this discipline, not distracting you!
- Surround yourself with Titus-Two-women. Identify women in your life, church, workplace or community who work at modelling the qualities listed in Titus two. As a woman after God’s heart, I will need to battle my own selfish nature, stereotypes created by the world as well as the temptation to accept the world’s definition and standard for marriage and parenting. When I am weak or weary, I should be able to look to the wise counsel of my sisters in Christ. My friends (and yours) should be the first to remind me my new identity and calling!
- Share values. In our friendships we should see a clear commitment to build strong, healthy relationships based on the what the Bible teaches us. We should be equally committed to honouring, respecting and loving our husbands. Our coffee cup conversations should centre on positively reinforcing the practices needed to nurture our husbands and marriages NOT on criticising or slandering our partners. Gossip should not have any place at our friendship-tables; not when it comes to our marriages or any other relationships or people in our lives.
- Be brave enough to demand honesty. An honest friend that offers advice and counsel contrary to what we want to hear should be our heart’s desire. It might be more painful to hear what you wish to ignore, but a true friend is tasked with helping us identify and avoid danger. This includes self-destructive behaviour or thinking, helping us see the good in our husbands when we look to their faults and avoiding other inappropriate friendships and relationships that will be harmful to us.
Be brave enough to expect a friend that offers this and remember that you will have to be willing to offer the same in return.
Paul offers a list of qualities that makes for excellent friendships and mentors. It underscores the value of female relationships and it should remind us that each of us have a significant role to play if we choose to accept the challenge and responsibility.
It will probably be far easier to find a “friend” who is willing to discuss your husband’s faults than one who will remind you of your duty to honour and respect him above all else. It might even be more tempting to have friends who accept that sitcoms set an acceptable standard for marriage and parenting. The truth is, a true friend will be the source of hard-to-hear advice, wise counsel, laughter, motivation and a reminder of all that God has called you to be!
Thanks for sharing my Cuppa. I hope you will make time for an extra-special cuppa with an extra-ordinary friend today.