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Friends Who Sharpen



A couple of years ago I missed the wedding of Angie, one of my best friends from high school. Angie was heartbroken. And I felt awful that I wasn’t there to celebrate with her.

Sure, there was the excuse that we now lived hundreds of miles away from one another, but I could have found a way to be there, if I’d really wanted to. The truth is, blowing off friends had become somewhat of a pattern for me. I’d been doing for months.

I wasn’t being a very good friend.

I’m not sure why exactly. Perhaps there was too much on my plate at the time. But one thing I did know was there had to be a change. A good portion of my once close friends had become nothing more than mere acquaintances.

Acquaintances are something I have a lot of. The majority of my friends on Facebook are acquaintances—people I haven’t seen in over a decade but we have crossed paths at one point or another. In the last few years, I’ve realized how surface level many of my friendships are. I tend to avoid uncomfortable conversations. Why would I want to share my struggles or need of encouragement with anyone?

After missing Angie’s wedding, along with moving from Wisconsin to Kentucky where I didn’t know anyone, I found the want to cultivate deeper relationships with women whom I love, respect, and trust. As a result, I’ve been learning—and attempting to put into practice—what it means to be a good friend.

Usually when I think of a good friend it is someone who’s easy to get along with, shares similar opinions, has the same (great) sense of style, finishes my sentences, and sticks by me when the going gets tough. But scripture says there’s a friend of greater value. A friend I really need.

According to Proverbs 27:17, this friend is one who sharpens me as “iron sharpens iron.” She spurs me “on … to love and good deeds” as Hebrews 10:24 says. Scripture also tells me that this type of friend is one who I need to have at least one of—and preferably many. A friend who sharpens is one who inspires me to serve, provokes me to love, helps me to grow in godliness, corrects me, strengthens my faith, and spurs me on to passion for the Savior.

I need friends that “sharpen.”

One way I can seek out these type of friendships is by inviting women I trust to point out sin, encourage me in the gospel, and spur me on to love and good deeds. I can ask them to become friends that sharpen, and I should strive to do the same for them.

After we moved to Kentucky, I found a deep connection with a woman I met through blogging. Soon we began to connect through e-mail, openly sharing details of our lives, and praying for one another. It was great to have a woman who I had grown to respect, love, and trust there to inspire me to serve, help me to grow in godliness (not only through e-mail, but in her blog posts!), and spur me on to grow in the Lord.

It has taken me time, but I now see my need to initiate friendships with people that will sharpen me. I know I need them. It may mean I have to stretch out of my comfort zone to initiate these relationships. It might even mean I have to have those awkward moments or conversation lulls for awhile to build up the friendship, but how amazing it is to have a friend in whom I can confide in about anything, knowing she will point me to the cross.

I know I can’t make up missing Angie’s wedding, but I do know that I can be a better friend to her in the future. Despite whatever is going on in my life I pray that I can be a constant friend. One whom others can count on, not only for a shoulder to lean on, but more so to love, be an encouragement, and point them to the Lord whether they are a believer or not.

I want to build friendships for Jesus Christ. I want to be a friend who sharpens.

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One day, Anne Swanson approached Ashleigh Slater about starting a blog to encourage women. The result: the webzine Ungrind was born. In addition to regularly contributing to Ungrind, Anne's writing can also be found on Radiant. Originally from Illinois, Anne is passionate about the church, family, and relationships. She's had more jobs than she can remember, but her favorite (after being a mom) was at Starbucks where she developed her coffee addiction. In her free time she enjoys having a cup of coffee (or four), cooking, laughing, reading, decorating, having a good glass of red wine, and spending time with her family. Her husband Justin and she were married in July of 2002 and they currently live in Kentucky where she is at home with their five young boys.

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Friends Who Sharpen

by Anne Swanson time to read: 3 min