By Joni Shankles

Every mom needs friends on the motherhood journey.

We need companionship and advice, a shared life and a shared faith, and the security of knowing we are not alone.

I think every mom needs at least five kinds of friends along the way.

You might find that your friends fit in more than one category. And you might challenge yourself to think about what kind of friend you can be to the moms around you.

You need a friend who is right where you are.

Every mom needs a friend who is in the same stage of mothering as she is, a friend who is going the same places, doing the same activities, sharing the same struggles.

You need a friend to share the milestone moments – first words, first steps, first day of school, first car. You also need a friend share the shocking, I can’t believe that came out of my precious baby, moments – That volume! That color! That attitude! That word!

This friend is like the best lab partner. She is working on the same assignment, helping you gather resources, helping you clean up the messes you make, and keeping you company while you figure things out through trial and error together.

So look around in the places you go with your kids. Introduce yourself to another mom.  Invite someone to sit with you. You might just be the friend she needs too.

You need a friend who is down the road a ways.

Every mom needs a friend who has been this way before, a friend who knows both the joys and the dangers of this leg of the journey.

You need a friend who not only gives you a vision of what’s possible, she doubles back to walk with you and help you find your way. You need a friend who knows what she’s talking about when she says this stage won’t last forever. My mom was fond of saying, “This too shall pass.” In my experience, she is right. This stage of parenting will pass; it may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass!

This friend is like a great parenting book made into a live action movie. As you watch her interact with her kids, she makes you think, “I want that!” – to be that kind of mom, to have that kind of family.

So look ahead. Find a mom with kids that are older than yours who is doing life the way you desire. Ask her questions. And realize you might just be the mom with a little more experience that someone else needs.

You need a friend who is like family.

Every mom needs a friend who can spend a lot of time around her kids today and then do it all again tomorrow, a friend who is just as happy to share the mundane as the monumental. In our increasingly mobile society, often friends are physically closer than family. And sometimes, we find that we share more common values with friends in our faith community than with our family of origin.

You need a friend who shares what she has when you have run out, who joins with you to celebrate special occasions and holidays you invent just to be together. You might go on vacation together (or wish you could); or you might share your own parents when hers can’t travel to be at Grandparent’s Day at your child’s school.

This friend is like a sister you don’t fight with, or an auntie or second mom to your kids. There is always a seat at the table for you and your kids in her house, a place to share daily victories and disappointments. She will take you in when your house is under repair and will be sad when you have to leave.

So look closely. Find a friend whose family is far away. Create a friend family to celebrate the ordinary and extraordinary days together. You might just be the friend who sticks closer than a brother (or sister).

You need a friend who will pray confidentially.

Every mom needs a friend she can trust with her biggest struggles and most difficult days, a friend who keeps her confidence and commits to pray for God to reveal Himself, to remove obstacles, to rescue from danger.

You need a friend who shares a vision for what God is doing in your life, and in the lives of each of your children. You need a friend who loves you deeply, who has a Kingdom perspective, and who wants what God wants for you more than what you say you want for yourself.

This friend is like a patient counselor and a tireless advocate. She listens beneath the pain of the present moment to find what your true needs are. And she takes your concerns to the King day after day, until the answers arrive, or the breakthrough comes. She won’t give up on you.

So look deeply. Find a friend whose heart is set on things above. Share your fears and struggles. I am thankful for my group of Warrior Mamas who are only a text away, who will stop everything to pray for me and my kids. You might just be the warrior another mama needs.

You need a friend who will never leave you or forsake you.

Every mom needs a friend who will never leave and who will never turn away.

You need a friend who is willing to die for you so that you might live.

This friend is one we all can share.

His name is Jesus.

Jesus is the friend who gave His life to pay for your sins, to buy back every wrong and every failure, to restore your relationship to the Father, and to give you His very life, the life you long for.

Jesus willingly gives His love, His strength, His wisdom, and His peace to His friends.

So look up. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Confess when you blow it. Exchange your fear for His peace. Ask for His wisdom for your next step. Rest, knowing nothing can separate you from His love. And remember, you might be the one to introduce Jesus, the friend we need most, to another friend along the way.

We really do need friends on the motherhood journey.

I have found my friends in many places along the way – on kindergarten field trips, at a weekly Bible Study, down the street from my house, down the hall from my classroom in the middle school where I taught, and on my knees in my parent’s room.

What kind of friend do you need?

What kind of friend can you be to someone else?

As you go through your days, look around and look ahead for moms who are where you are or where you want to go. Look closely and look deeply for moms with whom you can share your life and share your heart.

And look up for your Friend Jesus every step of the way.

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