I was that typical grade school girl who had a different bff every week. And if one or the other of us talked to another girl on the playground well then we couldn't be bff's anymore because a true bff would not talk to another potential bff. Then middle school friendship was even more complicated. You all remember the drama involved there. So what makes our adult friendships so much less complicated? For me the answer would be my relationship with God. By allowing my relationship with God to be the most important relationship in my life, I no longer expect anyone else to fill that void that only He can fill. This allows me to be a better friend and to not put so much pressure or need on my girlfriends. I'm also able to be more transparent with my girlfriends because I know that the only acceptance I truly need is God's. Accepting that truth about Him allows me to let my girlfriends off the hook. I'm not always looking to them to validate me and give me my self worth. I don't get upset if a week or "gasp" a month goes by and I haven't heard from one of them. I know that they have busy lives and that it doesn't mean I've done something or they don't like me any more because they haven't contacted me, it just means that they've been busy.
Transparency is huge in my adult friendships too. Transparency allows my girlfriends to see my weaknesses, feel my vulnerability, know my hopes and dreams, and see the real me. This self transparency then lends itself to their making themselves vulnerable to me. I've learned not to judge, not to condemn and to always do my best to be gracious and merciful.
I heard this statement once and it made a huge difference in my life. There will always be someone prettier, someone smarter, someone who has a bigger house or car, someone who has a seemingly perfect marriage, and perfect kids and someone wealthier than you. I'm friends with all of these previous mentioned women. I have prettier friends, richer friends, most definitely smarter friends. And what I've learned over the years is that there is always a struggle, always a history and always something in a person's life that makes us equal. That seemingly perfect marriage may just be smoke and mirrors when you peel back the layers. That seemingly perfect child may have some real issues that breaks his mom's heart and that wealth may be a burden because of the demands to keep up this standard of living. I've heard stories from my friends that make me want to weep for having ever thought that they "had it all". Having another person be truly transparent to you is a very humbling experience. If a girlfriend trusts me enough to share a deep dark secret with me then it is my job to handle that trust as I would a priceless treasure.
There is no competition among me and my girlfriends. I believe that is because the more deeply we know a persons weaknesses and pain the less likely we are to envy them and the more likely we are to want to see them succeed. When we know their heart and motivation it makes us want to champion their cause with them, to come along beside them and help them cross the finish line successfully.
Friendship should always be changing, always growing. It shouldn't be static. In my adult friendships I've learned to embrace this change always looking forward to the next chapter while savoring the journey as we grow together. As my girlfriends and I are fully embracing middle age, I have started to look back over my shoulder at the young women coming behind us. I feel a great burden to share these little nuggets of true friendship I've gained over the years. Maybe the secrets aren't mine to unlock for them, perhaps it is only through trial and error that God ever gets a woman to reach her highest potential as a friend. Whatever the secret is, I thank God for it. My life is so much richer, so much more fulfilling, so much calmer, so much MORE with my girlfriends by my side.
Colossians 3:12-14If you aren't lucky enough to have this deep, trusting, lasting friendship with one or more women, I want to pray for you. I believe that God wants you to have friendship like this. Send me an email at email@example.com. It's our secret.:)
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."