Marry the one who believes like you. You can be tall and he can be short. You can be a Republican and he can be an uber-Republican. You can be Irish and he can be German ... but deep down, you must be equally yoked.

Yoked is in reference to how the oxen teams would work together on the same yoke (a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the two animals’ necks and attached to a plow or cart) to achieve the best results. Plowing the field? Pulling up trees? Driving your cart? All of these things were best accomplished by working as a pair, a team. A strong team can make things look so easy.

So why wouldn’t you seek out an equal to share your yoke? Your burdens? Your life?

All too often we are attracted to people who aren’t good for us. We let our fleeting eye land on someone who isn’t our equal. Look for the heart of the person, and if that heart is equal to yours, then you hold on tight. Twenty something years later, I have zero regrets about holding tight to my equal. He is the one I would choose over and over again. Regardless of what struggles and troubles we face, we bear our yoke together.

That yoke doesn’t have to refer just to your marriage. Be careful with the people you surround yourself with. Think of all the relationships that you allow into your life. Are you choosing people who are equally yoked? It can be such a harsh reality when you look around at the people you have collected. Like whatnots on a shelf, sometimes we collect people and let them just sit on the shelf. If we don’t cultivate that relationship, we don’t engage and pull the yoke. And we aren’t doing those friends any favors.

Any relationship should bring you growth and comfort... sometimes you will be the strong one and other times, you need someone else to be strong for you to lean on. Being equally yoked means that you are in agreement, you are both working toward the same goal.

I have had some amazing friends who have enriched my life so much, but they have passed onto different stages in their life. They drift and I drift. And there is nothing wrong with that. Someone wise once said, “Some friends are here for a season and some for a reason.” That reminds me that as we grow and we stretch, there is nothing wrong with moving on to other friendships.

In times of need, there are people who will move the mountains around you to comfort you, whether you have been in touch lately or not. We aren’t meant to collect friends in life the way we do on social media. It’s not a numbers game, it’s a quality game. You choose the people who you know and trust to pull on the yoke with you.

But you must also ask yourself: Are you pulling your weight? Have you surrounded yourself with a circle of friends that best lift you up to your best? Does your partner share your beliefs? Have you built a relationship based on the very essentials?

My yoke partners have to meet a few characteristics. First, they have to believe that God took human form and walked upon this earth, sinless and then carried his own instrument of death where he hung, accepting my sins and your sins before dying. Then he rested before rising three days later to conquer death. Simply, Jesus is the Son of God and through him and him alone, shall I live forever. It’s literally that simple.

I have friends of all shapes and sizes... all religions and opinions. They stretch across the globe and while we don’t agree on everything, I know that my yoke is equal. My husband and my friends, the people who have filled my tiny little circle, fill the mark.

Be strong and be courageous in narrowing your circle. Go through your social media, your telephone contact list and your list of confidants, narrow it to those who are yoked with you. Those who can meet you in agreement, those who lift you up. Whatever you do, make sure that the ones that you count on, can pull their share. The burden of the yoke is heavy.

— Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at kmbrazeal@icloud.com.