I think of all the women who say “I don’t really like other women.” I used to be one of these women, mostly because I’d been hurt and excluded. Among my male friends I found a place where I could be myself, without pretension. After my husband and I got married, having close male friends wasn’t really doable. So I often found myself lonely. I had a couple of good girl friends I made in college, but the downside of getting married young, is that it isolates you. Logistically, because I no longer lived on campus, but also socially too.
It never occurred to me until years later that it was those early female relationships that were flawed, not the concept of female relationships in general. I thought that since I couldn’t be the “right” kind of girl that other women wouldn’t accept me. Or at least that I would never have the kind of close relationships where I could really be myself.
Lisa Jo Baker has a new book coming out (You preorder it here), that I’ve been lucky enough to preview. The following quote hit me like a ton of bricks.
“Because Satan would like nothing more than to see all of us women infected by our past hurts, the lies we’ve believed, and the grievances we bear. If it were up to him he would strap the corpses of our failed friendships and dead relationships to our backs and have us carry them into every conversation, every tender connection, and new interaction. Into every Bible study and book club, into every girls’ night out and kids’ birthday party. “
Yikes! I know many women for whom this is true, including myself. We may suffer from what Lisa Jo calls Friendship PTSD. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can extend ourselves without worrying what the final picture will look like. Risking vulnerability and pain, creating healthy boundaries and still finding intimacy.
I may not have a bosom friend like Anne Shirley and Diana Barry. But that doesn’t mean I’m doomed to walk the planet alone with only my husband (dear as he is) to make conversation with. I remember the old childhood saying “To have a friend, you must be a friend.” It sounds cliche but maybe not all wrong. If I could learn to let go of the fear, to be a friend even if I’m not sure that it’s going to work, applying the save level of sacrificial love that I’m trying to find for my family into my friendships as well, even the one’s too new to have necessarily earned it. Then maybe I will be surprised by what I find.