Friends. Girlfriends. Sisters. Nothing in life goes without them.
As I was chatting with one of my dear girlfriends this morning, I felt inspired to write a post about the amazing women who travel alongside me on this journey called life and why true friendships are so important.
When I left my friends (and family) to move to the other end of the world, I was scared and afraid that I would never have ‘best friends’ again. I was expecting to find a couple of acquaintances and possibly a few slightly superficial, friendly connections. Little did I know that God had taken His project to provide a home for me in San Francisco very seriously: I wasn’t just blessed with a job, means to enjoy this amazing city, a lovely apartment and delicious food. I also found the best friends in the world!
Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:
- The tendency to desire what is best for the other
- Sympathy and empathy
- Honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one’s counterpart
- Mutual understanding and compassion
- Trust in one another (able to express feelings – including in relation to the other’s actions – without the fear of being judged); able to go to each other for emotional support
- Positive reciprocity – a relationship is based on equal give and take between the two parties.
or as the apostle Paul writes in his letters:
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~Corinthians 13:4-6, New King James’ Version
Speaking of Paul: When I first came to visit this church Paul (my husband, not the apostle) was going to, I was swept off my feet by the warm welcome I received. At first it felt a bit overwhelming and I was skeptical that these girls were truly interested in me and my story. But the more I let them into my life, the more they shared about theirs. And I was quick to realize that I’ve met some of the most genuine, generous and loving women whose desire is to protect and encourage you to grow, develop, thrive, be successful and have loads of fun and ridiculous-ness.
Of course, there are struggles, arguments, maybe even fights, certainly a few white lies here and there (I’m not gonna lie!), and a healthy amount of gossip. I get mad at them, they get mad at me, we all get disappointed, feel rejected, sometimes hurt. Hey, we are human. And women. Not saints.
Women often guard themselves too much because they are wounded and afraid to open up and get hurt again. There’s jealousy, envy, the fear of rejection, competition and mostly, it’s because we nurture lies in our minds about what others think about us or what we think they think about us (did I lose you here?). But none of those thoughts have anything to do with the truth. And the truth is that your girlfriends love you for who you are. Period.
ENVY is a symptom of lack of appreciation of our own uniqueness and self worth. Each of us has something to give that no one else has. ~Elizabeth O’Connor
Whatever the struggle, whatever the cause for disagreement (sounds nicer than argument, doesn’t it?), I can say this with the utmost sincerity, my girlfriends have their hearts in the right place and forgiveness, love and respect are not just empty words but values for them.
While most of my leading ladies are part of my church family, I met other wonderful, honest, trustworthy, fun, inspiring, caring and smart women on my way. I believe that we need many ‘best’ friends, not just one: there are those who are best at encouraging, some are best at listening, some are best at giving spiritual advice, some better at giving mommy advice, there are friends who are the best at inspiring you. See, what I mean?
I’ve recently stumbled across a blog post about Cotton Candy friends – a term associated with the Facebook generation where it’s ‘totally awesome’ to have, like, um, a thousand friends or so. Well, we know that the social network friend is not helping us flourish yet alone heal when we get hurt. We may know what they had for breakfast, what their favorite local bar is, and where they went on their honeymoon. But, we miss knowing what they are afraid of, why they worry at night, and if they are really happy right now.
Now, go ahead and call that girlfriend of yours, make time to meet up for a cup of coffee, put gift shopping aside if it leaves you less time to spend with friends, or write a quick note to one of your besties letting her know how much you love having her in your life. Add a genuine compliment and tell her what you love about her, and you may have just made a huge difference in somebody’s life. Who knows?!