Finding “my tribe” has been on my mind a lot lately. “My tribe” being those women who are closest to me. They are the ones who speak into my life and know me on a deeper level than most. These are the women who are willing to push me in the right direction—toward Christ.
For many women, it isn’t easy to build trust with others. So often, what we share in confidence isn’t honored. We feel exposed and betrayed when others tell our struggles or deepest thoughts. Walls we’d broken down are rebuilt in a second when we discover our innermost thoughts disclosed to someone else.
Over the past several years, I’ve focused intently on finding friends I trust, and being a friend to others who can be trusted. Neither is easy or done in my own strength. It takes prayer and discernment to be successful at both. But God has been faithful in revealing to me ways that I can have and maintain solid, healthy friendships. And, I’ve found some common themes throughout this search.
5 Ways to Choose Your Tribe
1. Approach Each Friendship Looking Through the Lens of Christ
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).
It’s difficult to see everyone the way Jesus does. Sure, it’s easy to see the woman who shares similar interests and has similar worldviews the way Christ does, but what about the woman who challenges you? What about the woman who struggles in her marriage or parenting? Often it’s far more difficult to offer grace and love to someone who isn’t like us or who isn’t kind to us.
But I find that God often puts people in my path who both need me and that I need in some way. We can only be iron sharpening iron if we’re willing to be put in the fire and allow someone else to work off our rough edges. Likewise, being the hammer that sharpens another is critical.
2. Pay Attention to How the Women in Your Circle Talk About Others
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends (Proverbs 16:28).
Do you find conversation steered to details about others that are none of your business? Are hurt feelings or dirty laundry aired that shouldn’t be in the discussion? Are the mentions of others seasoned with love and grace or a negative connotation?
The way others speak in your presence about a third party can often be a sign of how they speak of you to others.
3. Handling Conflict Biblically Is Crucial to the Proper Balance of Godly Friendship
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
When we have a falling out or disagreement with a friend, it’s easy to seek out those who’ll console us and validate our feelings, especially when we feel wronged. What may be cloaked as “venting” or “confiding” in someone about a third party who has hurt us is often gossip.
It’s also often not productive. Unless you have someone who’ll guide you in biblical principles and point you back toward the friend who wronged you to make amends, it’s likely there’ll only be more division. If the situation is too raw to continue talking with the other party directly involved, it’s best to step away and take time in prayer before speaking about it to anyone else. I’ve seen groups of friends destroyed when one person confided in another about a third person, and “camps” were then set up. Creating cliques is polarizing and divisive and has no place in godly friendships.
4. Be Willing to Say the Hard Things to Those You Love
An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (Proverbs 27:5-6)
It won’t take long to find areas that need addressing when you start getting real with people. As you begin to lift the mask and allow the facade to fall with the select few who are in your inner circle, struggles and weaknesses become apparent.
How we approach those says a lot about how much we care about our friends. Sweeping issues under the carpet for the sake of never making waves is a surefire way to destroy a friendship at worst and weaken it at best. Loving someone enough to offer insight and Scriptural feedback is difficult, but it’s what we’re called to do as believers and as friends.
5. Be Willing to Hear the Hard Things
Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend. (Proverbs 22:11, NLT)
Most of us don’t enjoy criticism. Hearing something we’ve done wrong or an area in which we’re missing the mark is never easy, but has its place in godly friendships. We can be certain we haven’t “arrived” to the place where we no longer need rebuking, so if we set an understanding from the beginning that those in our inner circle have freedom to speak truth into our life, we can feel more prepared when someone shares an area of weakness they see in us.
We would hope that these conversations are seasoned with love and grace, but that may not always be the case. We need to pray that God will reveal the truths about us to us in these circumstances while alleviating the sting of the delivery.
Trusting God With Our Friendships
Navigating relationships can be tricky considering the myriad of personalities, interests, strengths, and weaknesses involved. When we find ourselves reaching a deeper level of friendship, those tricky spots can become even trickier. It’s so important that we keep all things in perspective and allow Christ to work through us to strengthen one another and to glorify Him in the process.
Not all friendships will reach this level of intimacy, and that’s a good thing. It’s wise to be selective with whom we’re transparent and open. Not all friendships are created equal. Not everyone is equipped to handle our baggage or struggles, so being judicious about sharing is a benefit to both parties.
Most importantly, we need to place Christ at the center of every relationship. Allow God to lead you to those whom He has chosen for you. You’ll never be disappointed when you allow Jesus to be at the helm.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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