A few months ago, my daughter, Caroline, curled up next to me on the couch after a day of school that had left her tired and frustrated. She began to tell me how she just wasn’t sure who was a real friend. We talked through it, and I wiped her tears as she let out a big sigh, saying, “I just don’t have a best friend yet.”
And it made me want to cry because one of the things I want most for Caroline to know is the beauty of female friendship and what it adds to our lives. We need those people who will listen to our stories and be there for us as we go through heartbreak and joy and figure out all that life throws our way. Those loyal soldiers who will defend us and stand with us when times get hard and it feels like the world is against us.
But here’s the thing: it seems that over the last couple of decades we’ve substituted the joy of real friendship with cheap imitations. We settle for “community” on Facebook and Twitter and through a series of text messages that allow us to communicate with someone without the commitment. We swim in the shallow pool of relationships because we all know that getting deep can equate with being vulnerable. And more often than not, that’s a risk we’re not willing to take. It’s so much easier to just text a few happy-face emojis.
We “like” each other’s beautifully filtered photos on Instagram and delude ourselves into believing we have a community. But here’s my question: Do we really? Do you have those people who will show up on your doorstep with food and Kleenex when the hard times come? Is there someone in your life who can look into your eyes and ask if you’re okay when she already knows you’re not? Because those people? They’re the ones who make life worth living.
Here are five reasons we need deep relationships with other women.
1. Life is full of critics; we need people who are on our side.
The world is full of people who will tell us we’re doing it wrong, whether in regard to parenting, marriage, job, or life in general. We need people who will support our decisions and cheer us on as we make hard choices.
2. They will strengthen our faith and point us in the right direction.
We are all going to have times when our faith falters and we need someone to remind us of all the ways God has been faithful in the past. Friends who share our love for Christ truly understand the deepest part of who we are and where we find our strength.
In 1 Samuel 18, we read about how God knit the hearts of David and Jonathan together. God knew they would need each other as they faced life’s challenges. Having friends who share our faith can deepen our own faith.
3. Our name is always safe on their lips, and our heart is safe in their hands.
The key to being real with each other and going beyond the fairy-tale version of our lives that we often present on social media is knowing we can trust someone with what’s really going on in our life.
There isn’t anything more vulnerable than admitting your marriage is struggling, your kid is failing school, or you just received a bad diagnosis at the doctor’s office. Real friends give us the ability to take off our masks, knowing they won’t share our heartaches and struggles with the world.
4. They give us a sense of identity and belonging.
C. S. Lewis once said that friendship is unnecessary. It has no survival value, but it’s one of those things that gives value to our survival.
I read somewhere that one of the best things a man can do for his health is to be married to a woman, whereas for a woman, one of the best things she can do for her health is to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.
Close girlfriends provide us with real community and make us feel like we have a place in the world where we are needed and loved. Those people become another place where we feel the safety of coming home.
5. We need people who show up when life gets hard—and we need a shoulder to cry on.
I love social media, and I’ve actually made some good friends through the Internet. However, these people didn’t become true friends until we actually spent enough time together to develop a relationship that went beyond surface interaction on Twitter or blogs, because sometimes social media can expose more cracks than it builds foundations until you have an opportunity to dig a little deeper.
Life can be hard, and it can be full of joy. That’s why we need friends who can hold our hand, laugh with us until we cry, pick up our kids from school, deliver a home-cooked meal, or take us shopping for a new pair of shoes to cheer us up. Nothing can replace the people in our life who will actually show up and hug us tight.
Deep friendship means walking with one another down some hard roads, losses, heartaches, financial problems, and more. In 2 Samuel 1:26 David says of Jonathan, “Your friendship was a miracle-wonder, love far exceeding anything I’ve known” (MSG).
That’s ultimately what God gives us in friendship: a real-life, everyday miracle in the form of another person.
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(Photo by Pepe Pont)