“How Proverbs Shaped My Post High School Friendships” was first published in the Idaho Homeschool magazine, spring edition 2020. Used here with permission.
Group Time began each homeschool morning. My siblings and I raced for the best seats in the living room. After prayer, we opened our Bibles to the book of Proverbs to go around the circle and read a verse at a time. On the fifth of the month I chose my spot in our living room carefully. This strategic move was an attempt to avoid reading aloud particular verses in Proverbs 5 — verses a 14-year-old considers awkward. All of Proverbs is true and wonderful like the rest of God’s Word, but I was perfectly fine if one of my siblings had to read the verses about intimacy out loud instead of me.
Regardless of this minor awkwardness, the best part of my education experience at home was an exposure to Scripture, introduced for what it really is, a message from God. I specifically think of our repetitious reading of the book of Proverbs each month. This practice set in place by my mom gained me a precious familiarity with the book — giving the chance to anticipate self-conscience moments of reading aloud on the 5th of each month — and also shaped my future. It impacted how I pursued friendships and chose who I would marry.
Proverbs is about wisdom. Barbara Mouser says, “Wisdom is the body of creation principles by which God created and sustains His universe.” In a sense, wisdom is like the law of gravity. God’s creation principles exist whether we like them or not. A young person can not swim against the current of the truth that undergirds reality. Proverbs is like a guide to help us know what to expect in life; this is extremely helpful for a young person who tends to find their peers and their entertainment the most important of all.
Proverbs is unique in that it bounces from many relatable topics. The book is visual, compelling, and humorous. In grade school I wondered why we could read the word “stupid” out loud right from the Bible. Turns out, it wasn’t a bad word like I thought; it just wasn’t appropriate to direct at one’s siblings. Phrases from its pages can bring a knowing smile— “Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need” (Prov 25:16), or this one— “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing” (Prov 27:14).
Discretion and wisdom are desperately needed in our culture today. Foolishness runs rampant and is even acceptable on social media and in friend groups. Just think what a difference it would make if teens were grounded in Proverbs before heading off to college. Proverbs teaches on money, friendships, futures, sex, wisdom, common sense, parenthood, food, and appearance. It speaks on the danger of the adulterous woman and shows how not to be her. It points out that a “soft answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger” (Prov 15:1) and “what is desired in a man is steadfast love,
and a poor man is better than a liar” (Prov 19:22).
It even gives insight into why your parents are discipling and disciplining you (Prov 29:17). The words of this 31-chapter book are matter of fact and dump common sense on the reader — and it’s all inspired by our Creator who wrote the rules for both the material and immaterial.
One example of how Proverbs helped me was in the area of lifelong friendships. Have you ever wondered if your child will succeed socially? Are you searching for a certain component in their education that will be the key to making it easy for them to click with others?
I can relate to these questions as a homeschool grad. Before I graduated from high school, I had an awe for non-homeschooled kids. I thought maybe that they had figured out some things about life that I hadn’t. I worried that I was not cool or would forever be branded as “one of those people.”
It turns out that I enjoyed friendships with these mysterious public school kids who attended my Bible studies or who I met at camp. They were a lot of fun, and they seemed to enjoy me, too.
The fear of friendship with people of different upbringings would have been a non-issue . . . if it wasn’t for my own persistent insecurity that I had missed some experience that would result in never relating with everybody.
As I entered into college dorm life, I quickly realized that no one asked or cared where I went to high school or how I had received my education. The students were all there to write a NEW chapter and learn together.
Thankfully, the friendship instruction from Proverbs infiltrates all sub-cultures. First of all, you have to reach out because, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement” (Prov 18:1). I can also attest to the fact that gossip destroys real relationships— “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends” (Prov 17:9). I understood that, hard as it was to hear, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov 27:6).
My four best friends in college ended up having attended homeschool, missionary kid school, private school, and public school. Yes, I had the most in common with my homeschool friend as our families were both in ministry, but I learned something from all of these young ladies and still keep in touch with them today.
If you worry about your child concerning their ability to relate to other people, I believe it’s not a lost cause. You can teach them they don’t need to have the same upbringing as someone to relate. Just be versed in God’s Word (like Proverbs) and you’ll have a gracious, understanding heart and will know the wisdom principles. Your kids will understand how the decisions they (and their friends) have made connect with their present reality. The condition-and-promise nature of Proverbs shows us the reality of consequences. You and your family can stand ready to help others through past hurt or rejoice with them in God’s goodness of the past and future.
Accompanied by a genuine relationship with Christ, the book of Proverbs will spur righteous choices more precious than gold and it will reap friendships, too.
I challenge you to read Proverbs and imagine how a young person could understand and apply its wisdom to the issues we all face. Pray the book for your child. Encourage your teen to pray it for their future spouse. It’s ready made to include in your summer program because there’s a chapter for all 31 days of the month. Wisdom cries out, so what are we waiting for?
“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.”
By Abigail Rehmert
Photo by Unsplash