I’m just going to say it right now. I don’t need another sweater.
Oh sure I might want another sweater, or a new pair of ankle boots, or some magic eyeliner that doesn’t smear into the creases underneath my tired, saggy eyes. And if I want those things, I’ll eventually shop for them myself. Probably online. After the kids are in bed.
But what I want more than that—what I really need—is for you to go shopping with me.
Because if you and I are friends, then I want your time. Your attention. Your eye contact and meaningful conversation. I want to hear you laugh and see you cry. I want to feel comfortable snort-laughing and wrinkle-face crying in front of you without being judged.
I want to know you know me, the real me—and love me anyway.
So if you have friends like that? Here’s what they really need for Christmas this year. Some of it can be wrapped; most of it cannot. Yet all of these gifts are priceless.
1. A phone call
Not a text, or an e-mail, or an instant message. Actually pick up the phone and talk. You know, with real voices in real time. Social media can be helpful for staying connected to friends old and new, but it can never replace authentic conversation. So bless your friends. Call them. Or better yet, if you can, meet for coffee face to face. We were made for fellowship.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25).
I’ve been convicted lately about how small my prayers have become. Do you believe God can do anything? Then be bold in praying for all things! Praying for a friend can summon the power of God’s army on her behalf. What an amazing gift.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
Sometimes the greatest gift you can offer a friend is affirmation that her struggles aren’t crazy or stupid. We live in a troubled world, so why do we try so hard to convince each other that our trouble isn’t really trouble? We tell each other to look on the bright side. We offer solutions. We think we’re cheering our friends up, but really? Maybe what we need to hear first is, “Yeah, that really stinks. I understand.” By all means, offer your help and happy perspective. But validate first. It creates openness between friends.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
4. A listening ear
We’re women. We love to talk. But listening shows you care about what another person thinks and feels. You do care about your friends, yes? So give them the gift of listening.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
5. A hug
My friend Jen gives the biggest bear hugs in the universe. It’s her signature thing, and I love that about her. Every time she squeezes me until I can hardly breathe, I feel a weight lift off my heart. Couldn’t we all use a little more of that?
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
6. Child care
Busy moms need time to themselves—or with their husbands. One of the sweetest gifts we can give each other is a couple hours alone. Offer to take a friend’s kids for the afternoon so she can go out to lunch, go Christmas shopping, take a nap, whatever. Just tell her she has to promise to come back.
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’ ” (Mark 6:31).
Recently one of the beautiful women in my Bible study paid our group a powerful compliment. She said, “I never feel judged here.” Praise God! That is a sure sign that Christ is shining through us. Acceptance is not something we are equipped to give on our own; we need to first receive it from Christ so it can spill over onto others. And paying it forward can be one of the greatest gifts we can possibly give or receive.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7).
If you’re in a tiff with a friend right now, will you lay it down? Christmas is a season of peace and goodwill. What better time to forgive, reconcile, and renew a friendship that deserves your grace?
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
9. A boost
Material things aren’t evil. What matters is how and why we value them. If your friend needs a smile, by all means bring her a peppermint mocha, or a DVD, or a gift card to her favorite pedicure salon. God uses tangible goods to soothe and restore us all the time. Why not do the same for each other?
“Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God” (1 Kings 19:5–8).
10. My book
Speaking of validation. You want encouragement? Rest? Giggles and tears? How about genuine heart-to-heart communication with another mom who knows you’re not perfect but loves you just the same? If so, then add my book to your Christmas list this year—for yourself and for your friends. The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood is all about seeking God through the junk and joys of family life, and equipping ourselves in faith to become the moms God designed us to be—imperfect yet beautiful, treasured, holy and dearly loved.
If you’ve already read it, thank you. Sincerely. If it blessed you, would you please consider blessing another mom with the gift of The SuperMom Myth? It’s available now on the shelves at your favorite bookstore as well as online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com and many more.
Blessings to you and your friends this Christmas season! May we all receive what we need most, and learn to want what we really need.
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).