I look around my living room at the 8 other women listening to our last Beth Moore video in our study, “Believing God.” We’ve just had a “potluck” dinner where everyone brought something special, and sat around the table together “breaking bread” (figuratively… as most of us either gluten-free or avoiding carbs)!
One sister had earlier emailed how sad she was that the exigencies of a project of work were causing her to cancel for our last meeting… I had selfishly prayed that God would clear away her obstacles… the door bell rang and I hugged her sweet neck, never happier to see anyone.
I feel a rush of emotion and blessings that words cannot express because of these sisters in Christ. I take a quiet moment. thank God for giving me these ladies, and all of the other girls he’s given me in my life as friends.
I am an incredibly blessed woman when it comes to friendships, more than I think I deserve. My sister-friends have meant the world to me and have carried me through both happy and difficult times, wiping away tears of joy and frustration: holding my hand; offering words of encouragement and prayer; and sometimes just hugging and listening.
When I began college at 18, I knew only my best friend from high school, whose parents convinced her it was best for us not to room together so that we could broaden our acquaintances beyond the hometown. At the time I felt sad, but not for long. There were a gaggle of girls on that 4th floor all-female dorm who would one day grow into 7 of my dearest and closest friends in the world. After college, we’d have girls’ weekends, and beach weeks together. Even when we scattered and moved to new towns and new lives, we always made it a point to get together. I’ve saved most of the letters sent to me in those pre-internet days. Eventually we called ourselves “The Divas” and added husbands and children into the mix, and gatherings topped out at 40 bodies jammed into two beach houses. Our kids became like cousins. Our husbands marveled to see the “sisterhood” side to us. Problem is, we don’t live very close to one another. We are closing in on 40 years of friendship now, and still going strong. These are the women who are always a phone call, text or email away– day or night.
My move to hubby’s hometown 24 years ago started a new chapter in my life. Along the way, most of the women I met where the Moms of my kids’ friends. It was a busy season, and there was somewhat of a divide between the stay-at-home and working moms. Many of us wanted the image of “perfect kids” and “perfect parents,” a pursuit that could get quite competitive. A few fleeting “friendships” came and went, and a couple endured. When I was going through some difficult times, I never felt at liberty to share my heart with anyone in my new community. Even with the frustrations I was experiencing in marriage, I was clear that I didn’t want to speak ill of my husband (of course this led to us faking a perfect marriage in our little Utopian bubble). As my leadership roles grew at church, I felt responsible to be strong (aka faultless?) to help others. As a teacher, I felt it important not to expose any personal weaknesses or issues that could come back to haunt me (sure, parents know teachers are human, but truthfully we want those professionals who spend so much time with our babies to be just a tick closer to Super Woman and Saint).
With career and parenting behind me, I felt led to work harder at female friendships. I began seeing many women like myself who had wrapped themselves in the “Have it All Together Veneer.” Even if they had husbands or other close friends, they had few opportunities to just be a woman with other women, to share and celebrate our uniqueness, the laughter, the conversation, the lack of shame about tears. To hold each other up and to build each other up. Women’s Bible studies were one great way to meet and interact with other women, but sometimes these could get limiting… 90 minutes, once a week, harried and busy women covering up the blank lines in their workbooks where they couldn’t squeeze another moment from their busy days to complete homework; a few poor ladies who clearly had no one in their lives to vent to, and used a Bible study to do this via prayer requests. Don’t get me wrong, I think women’s Bible studies rock and there are so many good ones out there, God uses each one. But it involves an element of work and accountability that sometimes lacks the laid-back mercy of mere friendship for its sake.
So, I began thinking– what do we women love to do together?
We love to eat.
We love to talk.
We love to laugh.
We love warm hugs.
We even like to cry (i.e., at a good movie).
We love feeling our female-ness.
It’s one thing to become feminine and vulnerable with a husband you love, respect and trust. Although some women are missing this in their marriages (another topic), women need the ability to bond with other women in our unique female ways. We need the Titus 2 women in our lives:
Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
(Note that some translations substitute for slanderers the words “malicious gossipers.” Husband-bashing is a no-no, but of course we may have some cute Mars-Venus stories to share…).
I was determined to find ways to have girl time again. Something as close to the fun and intimacy of sleepovers as possible.
So I instituted movie night at my house– chick flicks that make us laugh, feel, cry and bond. The ones we love to watch over and over again, know dialogue and songs by heart. I’d accompany the evening with a simple dish that might go with the theme of the movie (I happen to love to cook). Those who wanted to contribute to the meal were welcome to, but it was never an expectation. Once we just ordered pizza. We’d eat together, have great conversation, tell stories about when we met our husbands, or other funny anecdotes from life. We’d cuddle up on the couch and chairs and floor in my living room and watch a great movie. The bonding and connection during these times was palpable.
My wonderful husband has been hugely supportive of this. He’ll take the evening to go do things on his own, even though I assure him I am not kicking him out of the house (as he loves to tease). I think SJ “gets” how this feeds us ladies, and makes us better wives. At times “the guys” go do some male bonding (also important).
There are many other ways for ladies to harness the female power. Any other ideas out there? I’d love to devote a post to “Girl Time” ideas!