In the span of two months, I said two contradictory statements to my husband.
“I don’t think I can be a stay-at-home mom anymore.”
“I think I just want to be a stay-at-home mom right now.”
My patient husband always waits for me to unwrap these statements. He knows they’re likely the start of a “listen” and not a “fix it” conversation. That’s one thing ten years of marriage will teach you. Another thing that ten years of marriage will teach you is how to press in and speak truth even when your spouse doesn’t want a “fix it” conversation. My husband decided it was time for the latter.
Longing for Friendship
Eight months earlier we had moved, and I transitioned from working full-time at a job I loved to a new city, a new house, our second baby, a new job for my husband, and a new full-time vocation for me as a stay-at-home parent. We wouldn’t recommend doing all of this at once.
My tears flowed as I shared my deep sense of loneliness and isolation in this season of life. As I dug deep, I discovered that it wasn’t actually my life circumstances or my job choice that was causing this desire for change, but that I was longing for friendship. It also wasn’t the first time I had said these things. I knew loneliness would come with many of these changes—there are whole books written about loneliness in motherhood!—but it felt like I had done all that I could.
I shared with him my unmet expectations and how my thoughts had caused me to question, “Shouldn’t I have a few new friends by now? Or a few invitations to playdates or out to dinner? Didn’t I give my number to a few people at church? Why hadn’t they made an effort to get to know me?”
But his response wasn’t exactly the sympathetic nod of agreement I thought I needed.
Instead he said, “I think you need to learn to be a ‘Jonathan.’”
Relearning the Pursuit of Friendship
He was referencing the Old Testament friendship between Jonathan and David in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel. What could I learn from this story about friendship that applied to my current situation and attitude? Actually, quite a lot.
Jonathan and David had an unlikely friendship. We all know that David, a lowly shepherd, is anointed the future king of Israel and defeats Goliath in a battle with the Philistines in 1 Samuel 16 and 17. But then, surprisingly, he befriends Jonathan, King Saul’s son, who was presumably the next king of Israel. Jealousy or hatred could have easily marked their relationship, but instead, we watch Jonathan’s devotion to God outdo his desire for position or power (1 Sam. 18–31).
Scripture shows us that Jonathan is a unique kind of friend:
“Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam. 18:3).
“And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David…” (1 Sam. 18:4).
“But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David” (1 Sam. 19:1).
“Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Whatever you say, I will do for you’” (1 Sam. 20:4).
“And Jonathan, Saul's son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God” (1 Sam. 23:16).
Pursuing Others, Not Self
Scripture doesn’t record David serving Jonathan in these same ways. Seemingly, Jonathan was a man who gave to David more than he received. He championed, served, and was vastly loyal to him, even at great cost.
I was looking for someone to initiate a friendship with me. Many of us want others to pursue us—we want invitations to events and parties extended, and we all feel loved when people go out of their way to include us. But when we look at the example of Jonathan, we see a friendship marked by service and pursuit of others, not self. I needed to change my view of friendship from “why aren’t others befriending me?” to “how can I befriend someone else?”
An Important Endeavor
Jonathan offered unwavering support despite extraordinarily challenging and complicated circumstances:
“David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul's son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, ‘Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this” (1 Sam. 23:15–17, emphasis mine).
The Oxford dictionary defines strengthened as “to make strong” or “to reinforce.” The New Living Translation translates this phrase as he “encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.” Jonathan reminds David of what is true and shares his unwavering faith in God’s plan and faithfulness. As theologian John Piper puts it, Jonathan is a “horizontal means of God’s mercy” to David, which is the crux of Christian friendship.
I slowly began to see my pursuit of friendship as a more important and different endeavor than I previously thought. Rather than looking to fill my calendar or make it on a guest list, I needed to shift my gaze to look for ways that I could serve and spiritually strengthen those who God had put in my path. As the author of Hebrews writes, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). I needed to elevate this goal in my Christian friendships.
A Familiar Truth
David was saved by the sacrificial friendship of his friend. Who does this remind us of? In John 15:13, Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus doesn’t ask for anything in return or expect us to be without mistake. He champions, serves, and pursues us, and he sacrificed himself for us in the ultimate form of friendship. And because of this perfect friendship, we can extend this kind of friendship to others.
Although loneliness still creeps in at times, my husband’s words echo in my mind: be a Jonathan. As I run to the perfect friend in Jesus, I find the strength to be a Jonathan to others.
Meet the Author:
Rachel Dee lives in Columbus, Georgia and is most passionate about Jesus, being a wife to Matt, and being a momma to her two boys, Jack and Thomas. She enjoys being outside with her family, learning photography, and writing.