When I came into the church, I was in my early twenties. I was looking for God in all the wrong places, but all that changed when I walked into an apostolic church.
I grew up in an apostolic home. My parents chose to walk away from God, which led to poor choices, and as a result, I wouldn’t set foot in a church for some time.
My mother still tried to serve God, but my father refused to go to church. This made my mother sad, but she had a good Christian friend who kept her grounded and encouraged her to continue to serve God, even if her husband didn’t want to. They would often have coffee, laugh, cry and talk about God. I still remember playing with my friend while hearing my mother laughing and, at times, praying. I hoped to have a friendship like that one day. Sadly, my mother would later die, and the only memory I had of being in a church would be at my mother’s funeral. I didn’t go to church again until my Father’s death, almost two years later.
I am the second youngest of nine kids, and by the time I was eighteen, I was an orphan. I was homeschooled, introverted, and shy, making it difficult to make friends.
I was grieving the loss of my parents and didn’t know where I belonged. I was guarded and didn’t allow anyone to get close to me. I was like a porcupine protecting myself. Having been hurt, rejected, and unable to make friends, I didn’t trust anyone. I would try to make friends, but it was too hard for me; I was a shy girl dealing with insecurities. I often found myself chasing after friendships or starting short-lived friendships. I never had a real friend until I met Jesus when I walked into a church called Faith Pentecostal Tabernacle in Tigard, Oregon, in 2003.
When I walked into the church where Reverend John Dinwiddie was pastoring, I was broken and lost, but I had a hunger for knowing more about God. I’d been looking for God for a while, so when I walked into that church, I knew that I had found my home. What I didn’t realize was that God was going to put me in the company of ladies who would become my best friends. These women would show me the kind of love I needed and wanted. They gave me friendship without judgment and love without cost.
Having Godly friendships is crucial in every Christian woman’s life. Having good friends helps us in so many ways (Proverb 27:9). When I think about friendships, I look to the Bible for inspiration and examples of the benefit of having good friends.
In I Samuel 20:42, I read about how David and Jonathan were best friends and how Jonathan would have given his life to save David. Jonathan saw something special in his friend David that King Saul didn’t want to see.
Another friendship that comes to mind is the story of Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:15). Ruth loved Naomi and would not leave her, even when her mother-in-law bade her return unto her people. Ruth, however, abandoned the idea of leaving her mother-in-law, whom she loved so dearly, so that Naomi could go back to her people. Ruth and Naomi had a binding friendship that withstood their present circumstances.
And then there is the relationship God had with Moses. God called Moses His friend (James 2:23). Moses was not perfect, but God knew Moses was faithful—one of the qualities of being a good friend. While reading about friendships in the Bible, I realized that I lacked something while growing up: good godly friendships. However, all that changed when I went to church as a shy, introverted, and insecure young lady who needed a friend.
I met three precious ladies who showed me the kind of love that only comes from God. Marion, Shirley, and Melita were three elders in the church.
Marion was the church treasurer. I describe her as a ball of sweetness. When she first saw me, she gave me the biggest hug that I hadn’t had in a long time. She was so sweet and kind that I didn’t know how to react.
The second precious lady is Shirley Dinwiddie, my pastor’s wife. She saw that I had a hunger for God, and she took me under her wing and taught me everything she knew about God. She taught me how to be modest and faithful, and she exemplified humility.
The third lady is my friend Melita. Melita is from Guam. Although she couldn’t speak English well, her actions of hugging me and saying “I love you” crossed language barriers, and I felt love without judgment. These ladies taught me how to be a lady, be modest, love God with all of my heart, be a good mother, be a prayer warrior, read my Bible, and be confident in who I am in Christ. These were the friends I prayed for and needed. However, not all friendships are perfect.
Later in my walk with God, I found out that some friendships can be difficult to maintain. Women tend to develop groups that exclude others because they feel safer with people who have similar personalities. They feel safer if they are with people that have or share the same interests. The Bible teaches us to support one another and develop godly friendships. We are all a work in progress; let’s love one another as Christ loved us (I John 4:7).
Unfortunately, some women can be harsh with each other due to jealousy or other reasons. It is important to build relationships with godly women, women who can cultivate the gift God has given us.
We need to encourage each other when we have a victory and pray for each other when we are in a battle.
I’ve had some friendships that were not the best, they were not toxic, but they were distracting me from my relationship with God. There were four ladies in particular, and they were all lovely, but I realized I was putting more effort into my friendships than I was getting back. I would chase after them, and no matter how many times I would reach out to them, they tended not to reciprocate. God saw that these friendships were not good for me.
One day while I was praying, God spoke to me and said, “There are ladies that I have in your life for a reason, and there are women that I’m going to take out of your life for a reason.” At the time, I didn’t understand, and I didn’t like it, but I knew God was acting in my best interest. He saw that I had developed a toxic relationship, which was not good for me and affected my relationship with Him. I focused on friendships rather than giving the time and effort I needed to cultivate my relationship with God, my number one priority.
I prayed and accepted God’s will to let those ladies go. I genuinely loved those women, they were all in the church except one, and they were good people. For days, I prayed, and God kept telling me, “I’m removing them for a reason, and those in your life are the ones I have in your life for a reason.” So, I let them go. As hard as it was, I trusted God and let them go.
The good news is Shirley, Melita, and Marion were the friends God kept in my life because they were about their Father’s business. I didn’t have to work so hard on those friendships because it was already cultivated. In the other friendships, I felt like I was putting them before God. As I began to focus more on God—my friends, these precious sisters, understood what God was doing before I ever did.
How to be a good friend:
- Don’t be fake; just be yourself. The world is full of fake people; let’s not be one of them (Matthew 15:8).
- If you see a single mother, elderly individual, or a new person in the church, befriend them. The world is full of lonely people; let’s show them the love of God by our actions (Ephesians 4:32).
- Don’t judge. If they don’t look, dress, or act like you, don’t judge them; they are a work in progress (Matthew 7:2).
- Be kind and loving to each other (Matthew 5:7, Luke 6:35).
- Be honest, don’t be afraid to tell the truth. Be a trustworthy friend (II Samuel 12:1-7).
Characteristics of a bad friend:
- A bad friend will give you ungodly advice (I Kings 12:1-15).
- A bad friend will let you believe a lie (Galatians 5:7-8, I Thessalonians 2:11).
- A bad friend will flaunt their wealth, education, or possessions in front of you (I Corinthians 13:4-5).
- A bad friend will tear you down (Job 4:3-8; 8:20).
- A bad friend will turn your heart away from God (I Kings 11:4).
We are women of God commanded to love one another. Jesus said,
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).
If you have friendships that you feel are hindering you from growing in Christ, pray and ask God to remove them. Proverbs 14:1 (KJV) says, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” By putting your relationship with God first, you will see a dramatic change in your life. The friendships God keeps around you will be cultivated into a beautiful ministry.