Relationships with younger people are a blessing to all involved, but it is equally as important to develop friendships with peers and those who have gone before us. In so doing, we live our lives across generations.
God's word tells us that, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Friendships with our peers make us better. Sometimes we become so caught up in our roles as husband/wife, boss/employee, or father/mother that we forget to cultivate relationships that allow for the benefit of encouragement from those who are in the same stage of life we are.
Long distance runners often train with someone who can run at an equal pace as they do. In the same way, companionship spurs us on because we know that there are others in the race with us. We are not alone. This is a very inspiring revelation! After all, if other moms can make it through the terrible twos, so can you! Sharing life with your peers helps to normalize your struggles--you are not going crazy! The feelings you’re experiencing are normal for the stage of life that you are in.
This is only as effective as your willingness to be vulnerable. Be careful not to pretend that everything is perfect when you are with your peers. Once you have found a friend who is trustworthy, be real with them. They will in all likelihood be relieved to have found someone with whom they can also share their experiences. Once they do, make sure that you don’t gossip to others about what your friends are going through. Instead, pray for one another, and hold each other accountable. Scripture instructs us to "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). Offer to help your peers when they face tragedy or difficult circumstances. You will find great joy in becoming a relief to someone in the midst of their storm, and in return the next time you are experiencing trials and tribulations (because they will come!) you might find that the favor is returned.
Many hands make light work. My mentor often quotes this old saying while we are in the kitchen, or setting up chairs for an event we are working on together. It is true when working with our peers as well. Having that friend to call on to watch the children for a few hours helps to keep you sane and can lighten your workload making that project attainable.
Sometimes for new moms, it is a project just to take a shower and paint your nails. Other times, you might like to take your wife out for diner and a movie without all of the interruptions that come with bringing the kids with you. Uninterrupted time can greatly increase your efforts. Therefore having partners in life, multiplies our effectiveness because they are sharing the journey with you. Scripture hints that two people can accomplish ten times that of a solitary worker (Deuteronomy 32:30).
Finally, doing life with peers often opens the door to cross-generational living. You can be that valued counselor to your friend’s adolescent child. Perhaps one of your peers is caring for an elderly parent and you can offer to give them a break and spend some time with an elderly person, blessing both friend and their parent. Your children will become friends with their children. The opportunities are endless! Make a little time to cultivate peer relationships, I think you will find that you will enjoy life a little more, and stress out a little less!
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra