As much as we'd like it to look like the picture above : laughing, having a good time, being lighthearted, it also can be hard and hurtful.
As I'm collecting what comes to womens' minds when they hear "women friendship" , the answers definitely show two sides. I will have a full list at the end of the letter, as the answers are coming in as I type.
Lisa Joe Baker , in her book " Never unfriended" , says that the benefits of women friendships are :
-stronger immune system
In a study by Julianne Holt-Lunstad at the Brigham Young University found that NOT having a strong social support network raises your death risk more then obesity or lack of exercise!!!
That's some serious data. I'm like" Thank you Jesus for my girlfriends". No really. My mom died when I was 6 years old, and I moved away from the best circle of friends I had as a teen. I immigrated to the US from Germany and felt like I was stranded, literally like the fish I see on shore, suffocating from the red tide that SW Florida is plagued with this year. They were my family. My go to. My support. Thankfully , I have built more friendships since that day in 1990. Even my recent move to Florida has enriched my life with new wonderful friends. And I have kept some of my German friends. One of them I got in touch with years later, and she helped my daughter find a nanny job in Munich! Then she opened her own house to her and spoiled her :) .Believe it or not, she has a vacation house in Naples ! An hour away from here. So, these 5th grade friends, get to hang out again. That's just one example of how friendships can be interrupted by life, picked up again, deepened and enjoyed in a whole new stage of life. Another beautiful example is a friend, who gave a mutual friend of ours a week at her timeshare. A week to get away from stress and just unplug and enjoy time with her husband. She then ended the week with just the two girlfriends spending some time together. How beautiful is that? What a generous heart. Love you both ! What examples do you have of how a friend has shown up in the most beautiful way?
Lisa says : "I think you have to feed them, they are like plants." If we don't sow into them, they wither. So why, in the western world, where women are the most educated, liberated and wealthy, why is the happiness index on a steady decline ?
We live in a time where we can unfriend each other with the swipe of a finger! Nothing can wound deeper then unkind words from a friend. We are so hungry for friendship but fear keeps us from connecting. Fear of rejection, hurt, being left out, being the new girl...
So how do we proceed? With imperfect progress, with vulnerability and courage.
This is Hannah Keeley's mantra, Americas number one Christian mom coach:
"Sloppy success beats perfect failure"
Yes, that means stepping out of our comfort zone, and trying again. After you've gotten hurt, or compared, or you've been unfriended, overlooked,...you fill in the blank. There are many ways women can hurt each other. And yet, the one who calls us friends, said:
"Dear friends, let us love one another." 1 John 4:7
We have so much love to give. That's how we are wired. We even get rewarded with feel good hormones, that our own body produces, when we help each other and give support. Us helping makes us feel good!!
I'm sure you've heard, "the magic happens outside of our comfort zone."
What does that mean to you? How can you show up differently in the life of your friends? How can you reach out to a new potential friend?
Here is a collection of what women wrote when given the prompt "women friendships". This is collected from different FB groups, personal friends ( from different countries) and my daughters.
women friendships are the most important!!!!--community, love, support, cheering each other on for living our best life, family, encouragement--my best friends,drama, phone calls, girls nights--important--helping each other out in hard times, listening to each other --reliability, trust--fun,laughter,conversation,drinking wine--hard--chosen sisters--sisterhood, alliance, iron sharpening iron, support--sisters support others with everyday issues from the youngest to the older ones--powerful--hard and very often more one sided than not--my community and pillars of strength whose sincere desires are to see me grow and flourish from the purest place in their souls and hearts, my safe haven, unconditional acceptance, my support on this earth--necessary but not always easy--strength--it's complicated--community, support, tribe--strong potential for it to be inspiring, encouraging, supportive and safe. There's also the potential for it to be heartbreaking and even toxic. I think it all depends on the hearts and willingness to put in the effort on both sides--life, needed, support, fun--comparisons--sisterhood, my village--hard and very often more one sided then not--strength--encouragement and support--hard to come by a genuine one--understanding,laughter,compassion and support
Thank you to all who responded.
I'm curious: What is your biggest obstacle in forming new friendships? What holds you back? How can I help you move forward?
What is your biggest hurt? Do you need help with healing?
Please don't be shy. I'd love for you to write to me. You can add a comment to the blog or you can find me on FB or on my website.
Take the first step to a healthier you!!
I'll finish with a quote from Lisa Jo Baker;
"Women aren't hungry for perfection, they are hungry for connection"
You are loved. Deeply loved . Loved beyond measure.