“Girls are just so much drama.”
“I don’t get along with other girls.”
“Girls just can’t get along in big groups.”
These are all phrases I’m sure we’ve all heard more than once. A list of reasons and excuses that women should stay separate and distant from other women. Our society thrives on the lies that women are not worth the trouble of creating networks of relationship with. Women like to gossip too much, women are too much drama, women get too jealous. Instead we seem to elevate friendships with men and being “just one of the guys.” Where women are labeled as friendships that need too much effort, men are considered low maintenance. There’s a certain amount of pride when being given the description of “not like other girls.”
This breaks my heart. I’ve watched women my whole life build up walls to block out other women. Isolating themselves out of fear of rejection or feelings of inadequacy. I can’t help but wonder what changes we would see in the world around us if women embraced each and pursued deeper relationships and connections with each other. The truth is, some of the most enriching and important relationships of my life have been with other women. My friendships with women have benefitted me and built me up in more ways than I could probably ever list. The women in my life have supported me, encouraged me, and covered me with prayer. They have listened to me and advised me, and they have led me closer to being the woman God has created me to be. This isn’t just my experience though. I would bet you that if you asked any older Christian women, most would tell you how important their relationships with other women have been.
So, if this is the case, why do we hear so often from so many younger women that female friendships just aren’t for them? In my gender communications class we talked a lot about the different gendered messages that aren’t sent to men versus women in their early development that lead to specific perspectives on their fellow gender and their association with them. To summarize the overarching theme: men are taught to compete for the job, women are taught to compete for the man (and just about everything else). This does in exchange lead to a lot of jealousy and unnecessary competition between women. This also gives an explanation as to why women find it easier to develop relationships with men. Their validation is considered more valuable and they are not in competition with men the way they are with women. These messages accumulate over time and women see each other as competition– not teammates. This in turn results in women hurting and being hurt by other women out of fear and envy. Soon, it becomes much easier to hand out phrases like the ones mentioned earlier, “girls don’t like me,” “I just don’t get along with other girls,” “ugh, I just hate hanging out in big groups of girls” instead of opening yourself up again to the potential hurt of female relationship.
If this is the case though, how do we combat it? How do we break down these walls and misconceptions to find true and meaningful connection with one another? Well, I think we start by learning to differentiate between the lies we are meant to believe and the creation God has meant to be. I refuse to believe that another woman succeeding means that I am failing. I refuse to believe that a group of women have no choice but to gossip. I refuse to believe that the women around me are hoping and scheming for me to trip and fall. Instead, I recognize that God created women in His image just like He created me. I recognize that God has created us for relationship with one another. I recognize that there are women who need me just as much as I need them.
Once we have separated the truth from the lie, it’s then time to put our knowledge into action. Everytime I meet a girl who says, “oh, I don’t really have any girl friends,” or “I’m usually just one of the guys” I then make it my mission in life to be their new best friend. It’s kind of a ministry. Because I know the truth about what the world tells us versus what God has said is true, I am able to know the hurt and pain that led to these common phrases and instead I can choose to be an agent of healing for these women. We can love them, we can encourage them, and we can show them that their success is our success too. All we can offer is love and friendship, but I believe that what we give leads to God’s healing as well. Sometimes it is hard at first, to befriend other women, women who have been hurt by female friendship in the past, but some of these more “prickly” beginnings can become some of the most rewarding relationships.
I would love to see more women pick up this “ministry” in their everyday life. Not just because there are others who need it, but because we need each other. There are struggles and obstacles women go through in life that no one else will understand like another woman will. Their perspective is valuable and their empathy and compassion unmatched, because they’ve been there too. The more we as women show up for each other and prove to one another that love and support is our number one mission, the more we can tear down the belief that our competition is with one another.
Let’s stop believing the lie that friendship with women is too much effort with not enough reward. I want to challenge each of the ladies who read this blog to intentionally reach out to another woman in your life and find a way to connect with and encourage her. Offer to pray with another woman, or take a mom out to coffee, ask the girl from your class who really intimidates you to get lunch one day, just go out and CONNECT! Let’s take pride in being “one of the girls,” because honestly? We’re pretty amazing.
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