I love having friends. I believe friendship can help each of us lay our own desires aside as we learn to care for others and bond with people who don’t actually live in our own home. Friends have special ways of making us feel appreciated, loved, and accepted.
Friendships formed in childhood seem withstand time in some instances. I am still close with a few women who have been in my life for over 20 years. I do not see them everyday or talk to them regularly but I know that when we do get together it feels no time has passed. The bonds we formed while navigating through adolescence, college, and young adulthood have given us love and acceptance for one another that can never go away.
As I watch my children form friendships with others my heart overflows with tenderness. Today I watched my daughter hold hands with her sweet friend as they skipped around the playground. I observed by oldest son bonding with his playmate while they left the playground and walked the sidewalks laughing and whispering. And then there was my youngest who has his own “best friend”. Those little boys are like two peas in a pod!
One of my many jobs as a mother is to make sure my children establish connections with others and give them opportunities to bond with children that are like them. I believe it does our youngsters well to meet people from all different backgrounds but when it comes to training up my children, I want them to be surrounded by others who have similar beliefs and morals.
I want my children to be attracted to others who respect their parents and are learning the ways of Christianity. This is not to say I don’t let my kiddos play with children who aren’t believers. I also know we all have times when we make very poor decisions and I know my children are not separate from these ways.
Yet when I think of how I want them to grow up, the decisions I pray for them to make, and the people who I believe will support them in life I am led back to what is said in Romans 15:1-5,
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Life is a journey for all of us and if I can help my children set a firm foundation in friendship then there is one more element of support on their sides.
Sarah Knepper is mother to three young children and remarried last June. She spent three years as a single mother and has learned Jesus is the answer to everything. She has a Master's Degree in Elementary Education but is home for now with two of her children.