This devotional was originally published on September 3, 2018.

Making friends throughout school was one of the easiest things to do. You ended up becoming friends with people in your class or people you were in extra-curricular activities with. It didn’t really seem so easy at the time, but then you get married and move across Texas, which we all know is really far. This is what happened to me. My husband Joe and I relocated when he accepted a job with the Dallas Fire Department. I didn’t have a job, was far from my family, and I didn’t have friends close by. The “peace and quiet” at home simply became “the quiet”. I longed for purpose and for friendships in a way that I hadn’t ever experienced before. I needed something and someone.

The problem is that, throughout school, friends sort of come our way. We are placed in situations where we sit by the same people over and over for at least a semester, so we are more likely to strike up conversation. We also find ourselves on teams with other people for sports and such, so we easily find common ground with them.

As believers, we need to understand that we have the opportunity to connect deeply with other believers because we have deep common ground. Actually, we have the most miraculous common ground: we have all received the miracle of life. Not the life given to us that began at conception, which truly is amazing and a miracle. I’m talking about the miracle of being dead in sin and completely separated from God, and now found, made new, and alive in Christ! This is a common ground we need to celebrate and capitalize on!

Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all being influenced daily. We are being influenced to wear, eat, drink and say certain things. Some people pride themselves on being an outcast and individual, when really they are just mimicking the behavior of another outcast. Proverbs 27:17 says that, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” And proverbs 13:20 says, “A companion of fools suffers harm.” These are just two specific verses that speak into the fact that who you choose as your friends is incredibly important. One of the problems with friendships is that we tend to just fall into the same patterns we did while in school. We let friends come our way. For the stay-at-home mom, this would create obvious difficulty. For those of you who work with others who don’t live a life surrendered to the one true God, you can find yourself acting in a way that is contrary to the life you have been given in Christ.

So here it is: I give all of you permission to make friends. Because Scripture tells us we need iron to sharpen us! And this doesn’t just happen on Sundays.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
— Hebrews 10:23–25

Sometimes life gets too hard, so “hold[ing] fast the confession of our hope without wavering” can be nearly impossible without a solid community of believers around us. Sometimes we need truth spoken over us: “let us consider how to stir up one another… encouraging one another…”, from someone who is in the mess with us or at least really close to the trial. Church is a great place to meet those friends who can stir you up and encourage you to hold fast to the hope you have in the Lord. But it is really hard to make friends on a Sunday. So here’s what I encourage you to do: find a community group or, even better, start a community group! This will allow you the opportunity to invite people into your life that you would like to get to know more. This will also allow you to take ownership of your faith and find community when it isn’t always just given to us.