One of the greatest needs of women today is finding a true friend. In my travels across the country, I am amazed to hear women say that they struggle with loneliness. This seems to be a paradox when considering the high-tech, fast-paced, goal-oriented, information-overloaded world we live in. But in spite of the Internet chat rooms, cyber cafes, and picture-taking cellular phones, people have little or no time to develop meaningful relationships. This is especially true for women, who often try to juggle a full-time vocation, child-rearing, and marriage at the same time.
Women long for something more than the superficial relationships they find at work, in the neighborhood, at church, and the "Hi, how are you"-kind-of-acquaintances. They are looking for someone to care about the nitty-gritty details of their lives. They ache for someone to call them up when they were not at church just to say, "Hey, I missed you!"
Jesus understood the power of relationship. He recognized the signs of loneliness and rejection when he saw the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). She was trying to slip quietly to the well that day, hoping not to run into anybody she knew--the same way you feel when you've rushed out of the house to do some quick errands with no makeup and your hair pulled back in a ponytail.
She knew she was in trouble. Relationally, her life was a mess. Doubtfully, she had many friends. Other women mistrusted her and she was the brunt of men's jokes. But she met a Stranger, who would change her life. He looked at her as if she mattered, as if He really cared about her pain. Something about that gaze connected with her. In an instant, she revealed an intimate part of her life.
What a gift Christ gave her in letting her know that He was aware of her past, but loved her enough to let her know, I know it all, and I still love you. That unfamiliar and luxurious gift transformed her life so that, even as she was gulping it down, she was running to tell others the truth. His acceptance and friendship made an eternal difference in her life.
Friendship can be the means to effective evangelism. We don't have to look very far to see women who are longing for a true friend. Ask God to show you the individuals in your sphere of influence that you can build a relationship with. They are probably right under your nose--at work, in the neighborhood, at Curves, or in your scrapbook club. These are a few ways that you can be a true friend.
Support--A true friend is someone we look to for support. She is always on our side cheering us on to victory. A true friend tells us what we need to hear, even the tough stuff, and is motivated by love.
Service--A true friend shows her love in acts of kindness. She is someone we can count on to help us out in a pinch. It doesn't irritate her at all if we call to ask for a ride when our car is in the repair shop.
Significance--A true friend is part of our trust circle. She is someone we can rely on when we face pain or tragedy, or even when we fail. She is there when we hit the ground, ready to pick us up and encourage us to keep trying. She accepts us just the way we are--just like Jesus--showing us mercy and grace.
By: Lillian Sparks
Lillian Sparks is an ordained minister, author, retreat speaker, and former National Director of Women's Ministries for the Assemblies of God. She lives in Springfield, Missouri, with her husband, Stephen, National Senior Adult Director, and her three adult children: Leann, Jenell, and Brent. Bryon, their oldest son, went to be with the Lord in November 1995.
Will You Be My Friend?