Mean Girls and Girl Friends…
The blood ran from the gash in my leg nearly as quickly as the tears carved tracks down my cheeks.
A group of eleven-year-old girls crowded around me, staring as I sat on the ground, holding my bleeding knee.
One of them spoke. The rest of them laughed.
“Sssshhhh!!” she’d hissed at me. “They won’t let us play if you don’t stop crying! GET UP AND SHUT UP!”
She was one of the popular girls, so she set the tone for the group. In a moment, all the others were chanting venomously, “get up, shut up, get up, shut up!” in a hushed whisper, as to not draw the attention of the recess monitor.
I’d been the “tail” of the hand holding line of 5th grade girls playing “whip” at recess. Stupid game, “Whip.” The object was to link hands in a line, then run in zig-zags around the playground, trying to throw off the girl on the end. If you broke the chain, you ended up as the tail. Your personal goal was to get to the front of the chain and then you got to lead which direction the chain ran.
I’d been flung off three times already. This last time, I managed to slice my leg open (this was back before playgrounds were made of recycled tires – we played on concrete, asphalt, and gravel) and it was bleeding pretty bad. My pride wounded at my lack of apparent skill and absence of compassion from my schoolmates, I simply got up and walked away from the group and walked over to the swings.
Myriads of moments as memorable as this one peppered my childhood. I was one of those chosen for negative attention, catching the eyes of the bullies and stronger kids. The girls were difficult to connect with, cliquey, and for whatever reason, I didn’t find a small peer group to survive in until high school. I steered clear of girls as friends for many years, lacking in the ability to connect, deeply wounded by years of bullying and painful interactions that left me feeling inept. I literally married my best friend (a man) and had my second best friend stand up with me – also a man. No girls in pretty dresses at my wedding, no college room-mates (never had them – I chose living alone to living with another woman), no childhood friends… there just weren’t any.
And I didn’t know Him at the time, but even way back in elementary school, He knew me. And after I met Him, I allowed Him to make me new.
It’s a thing He does.
In all the hurting places, He makes us new if we let Him.
One of the best ways He’s made me new is changing my heart towards women. Just like God gave gave Mary the blessing of female companionship in Elizabeth when the angel Gabriel announced her upcoming pregnancy and the birth of the Messiah, He also gave me that blessing. I can now say that I love women. I absolutely love my female friends – and a part of me shrivels up and doesn’t work properly when I don’t get my girl time. I’m super thankful it started with a fabulous group of women that I worked with for years – we did life and manufacturing together. Tough and wonderful all at the same time. We had monthly department meetings at my house where we wore sweats and accommodated those with nursing babies. I somehow acquired a team of mostly women…perhaps God’s hand.
Yesterday was absolutely fantastic and briefly reminded me of those days and His care over my life. I have the privilege of doing ministry with a team of beautiful women from around the country, some of whom are local. Those of us here got together yesterday for brunch. We sat together over a meal, speaking of what we endured, celebrated, suffered, met with enthusiasm, dreaded, finished and left undone over the course of the last year. We focused on what went well, what “testimony was still being worked out,” where we had hope, and what encouragement we needed. We talked about our families.
Our eyes welled together, we laughed together, we prayed together. And in the spring, we’re doing this with our larger team from around the country, and can’t wait to get everyone together in the same room at the same time.
But yesterday? It was a rich time.
It was a gift.
The generations at the table included women who were grandmothers, women who had married children, women who had teenagers, women with tweens, and women with toddlers. And I realized we had a few things in common – we all suffered, we all persevered, and we didn’t know what we were doing, but we trusted God with the instructions and marching orders for “the next thing.” And there were some women who were absent, some across the country. Some I do life with daily via phone and text message and Facebook… but I was thankful for them as well, yesterday, thought of them fondly, and marveled at the great work God has done in my life.
We link arms together, and hold each other up, without passing judgment, helping us move forward, sometimes two steps forward, one step back-style. It’s beautiful.
And it is immensely HELPFUL. We can’t do this life well alone – we weren’t meant to. Linking arms with other women who follow Christ makes a huge difference in our ability to do marriage and family life well.
And we all wanted one thing: more time together in 2014.
How about you? Are you isolated or connected with other women? I dare you to open your heart and your possibilities to what God is capable of doing if you’ll just let Him. He has a gift for you. Will you receive it? Dare you to comment at the bottom of this page about what He’s doing, where you are, where you’ve come from…and where He’s trying to take you…Double dog dare you to go… (Mary-style, even saying, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be as you have said...”) 🙂
It could change your life like it has mine.
Love to you,
How do we deal with the mean girls who are our adult peers, co-workers and in our lives? How do we juggle ‘not fitting in’ and the desire to find female friends?
Finding places of common ground helps. Good boundaries helps. Being open to learning about someone else first helps. I’ve recently had a good friend pull away, and put her ‘friend’ energy into other things. Friends for a reason, friends for a season is the conventional ‘Christianese’ speak on the issue. But dang it – IT HURTS.
One day you are listening to her life, spending time together and the next, “I’m too busy” You pray for them, always.
I have a few friends that WHEN we get together we have a GREAT time. But the getting together is seldom to rare. And it is because people are busy. But is THAT reason enough? Where is the value of friendship and fellowship when it only happens at easy times? Only when it fits the schedule. Can’t we make friendship something to ‘make time for’?
People have said, “You are such a good friend!” but honestly there are many with whom I am friendly, and very few with whom I would say I am friends with.
I love my girlfriends, and I miss them terribly. But not everyone gets the farming life (put in your own – military, ministry, etc) and is that reason enough to let a friendship go? Or does Jesus want us going further, deeper, longer than the “How are you? Busy!” Q&A that seems to common, and accepted these days.
I am so very thankful for social media, to keep me in touch with my girl friends around the world, but some days I sorely miss a friend to look face-to-face with over coffee, or to hold hands with and pray, or take a ‘girls day’ of silly fun with.
And no, I was like you Nina. The outsider. The one hissed at and the one who walked away, alone. Thank God for my small group of friends, other outsiders, or we would have all been so lonely! Even in youth group I wasn’t enough like the others…what fun to be individual and unable to blend in well!
Isn’t it remarkable what God can do with a life handed over to Him? 🙂 Praising Him for both our victories. 🙂
Love to you, baby. I have it easy, I think, God brings treasured gems to me, and we link arms and get to do ministry together! 🙂
When my kids started school I came to notice something. Every kid has their day to be the out kid. Not every kid bounces back from it as easily. The kids who get good at forgiving and forgetting and jumping back into the game don’t become targets for the “mean kids” as often as the kids who don’t bounce back. I could speculate that the kids that don’t bounce back are often the smarter kids, because they are looking to learn from the situation, their minds seek patterns and as kids we are self centered little monsters. The pattern we see surrounds “I” why am I hurt and not someone else. Why are people behaving selfishly and uncompassionately towards me. Why do I feel bad an no one else does. Much like in divorce, kids see every outcome as being evidence for or against them being ‘good enough’.
The answer is as complicated and simple as any Black Friday shopping trip. People in groups are selfish and seeking gratification for “I” through a group. The group may come through the door together but it is made up of a whole lot of selfish little I’s. It’s really not personal.
The kids who don’t try to draw any conclusions from the experience are given credit for having tougher skins and eventually being more popular. They build a history of shared experiences with the individuals that make up the group and eventually those interactions blossom into relationships. The kids whose relationships with the group are marked by not bouncing back also develop relationships with individuals, but they have less input into those relationships, leaving them feeling even more powerless in building relationships with their peers whom they feel have marked or labeled them. The lesson learned is rejection and demands that its bearer leave the group to avoid additional hurt.
With my boys, I strongly focused on giving the benefit of the doubt, not writing off friendships based upon one or two bad experiences and I’ve tried to apply that to my own interactions. People as a whole are an uncaring lot. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve felt someone was acting uncaringly towards me only to later realize they weren’t uncaring, just self absorbed.
I used to know a woman who would repeat ‘love is the lesson, life is the school’ like a mantra, but it took me many years to realize that she only used this mantra when she was talking about how someone else should treat her. By the time our walk together was done, I regarded her as a snake, and a transparent one at that, but outwardly she is seen as a very loving, caring, sweet person. She is. When it benefits her. I’m still considered a ‘mean girl’ in some circles for cutting off the relationship. Others don’t always see what I see.
My mantra has become “it’s not a me problem.” and I try to remember that the best friends I’ve made were not people I have sought out for the purpose of friendship but people who I have developed a history of respecting their actions and have come together with through action and it usually takes many years before any of those relationships become what I would call friendships. I’m very loyal right from the get go, but not everyone is like that. Not holding others accountable to my expectations, and not taking it personally when they fall short of them seems to be a path to peace and being able to continue to develop the relationship.
Thank you for this. Lots of good info and experience. And we ARE ALL (myself included) rather self-absorbed. Pride is always the thing that gets in the way of growth, isn’t it?
With friendships and with family.
Love to you,
Funny, my mind went quickly to the “mean” girls of late. The women in my life who do not support where I know God is leading, the affluent women who think their way is the only way ….
I’ve grown shy of IRL (in real life) girlfriends …. the ones I had didn’t understand me (judgement), misled me (into sinful situations), gossiped about me (*ouch*) or just outright had their own agenda. The internet helped me fill that void (sometimes referred to as my imaginary friends, lol), leading me into deep and healthy relationship with a few women; One of which lived literally around the corner (and we didn’t know it for months!) and she is now a true, Godly friend. I can count my blessings of a couple of Titus 2 mentors nearby that I can (and do) call upon whenever needed. I see the beginnings of intimate relationship with some of the women that have been in our small group the last 2 months. I see that there is a season for everything, and His purpose(s) has been and is being fulfilled even in my friendships.
I’ve also learned the lesson that men can’t be a friend (in most situations) to a married women.
I’m thankful for the scientific lessons I’m learning that show me why women need women and I’m more thankful that God saw fit to put that truth in His Word.
I just recently lost my last female friend. Although I pray she turn her heart toward God, it was good that He cleansed me of a bad friendship. I’m longing for female companionship now. My husband is my only friend and that is making me quite needy. I’ve been praying for a Christian workout buddy. Also since we’re newly married we’re in between churches so I hope I meet some friends at our next church.
Praying for you here. It IS hard. I encourage you to get plugged in to a women’s bible study, or even start one in your neighborhood and invite a few Titus ladies from your next church to help you get started. 🙂 And I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost a best friend to cancer a while back. I still miss her.
So glad you are here.
Love to you,
I think that finding good Christian friends when you are first married is so important. So is being that friend. I know God surprised me in BIG ways in how He decided to gift me with the friends my heart was longing for – in how long it took, where I found them, etc. I will say a prayer for you. Also I would love for you to come hang out over on my blog http://www.leahheffner.com and we do all kinds of new wife stuff associated with the Respect Dare community.
Comments are closed.