Writing that title made me shiver just a little. I have now admitted to the world that I need and crave friendship. This is awkward territory for me because, after childhood, I avoided most close friendships. I invested what I needed to get through that stage of life, college etc. and pretty much moved on. Even the close friendships I developed during that time were fraught with anxiety, comparison and hurt.
I was a military kid growing up and had to let many close friendships go at an early age, I was in and out of different schools until I hit high school. I won’t pin my friendship issues completely on this lifestyle but it did affect the way I approached friendship. Something to get me through the season, but with no anticipation that it would have any lasting impact on my life. This mentality carried me into adulthood, where I began to hold the opinion that I didn’t actually need close female friends, especially in the suburban sprawl I’d moved into. Every woman I met had a “best friend” and this totally freaked me out. I didn’t have a best friend… so where did I fit into this world where all these women had friends with titles?
The additional issue I face here is my extroverted nature combined with a melancholy disposition. I’m an opinionated seeker of justice that spends half the time brooding over world issues and writing novels in my head. I feel odd and different most of the time.
So that’s my little sob story. Weird Erica with her half friends and military upbringing.
And here’s how God redeemed that lie in me… the one that said close female friendships weren’t possible. The one that said I was better off just caring for my family without encouragement and accountability from other women.
It’s hard to say how these friendships came about. Some were through shared experiences, some out of difficulty and some out of sheer proximity to one another. And mostly because of their perseverance. It began at 5am. Bible study, coffee and fellowship with women who lived in my area. I didn’t arrive and immediately bond deeply to every person there… but I knew I wanted to stick around.
As each week went by I realized that meeting with these ladies energized me and helped me face the long stay-at-home-mom-days with more joy. I began to let my walls down and hit them full on with the parts of me that felt vulnerable or weak. I learned that true friendships struggle a little, there are disagreements, there are awkward moments and there are hurt feelings that sometimes need to be worked through. Especially adult friendships in the midst of kids and husbands and PMS and seeking God all at the same time.
It’s weird territory when friendships are full of accountability and seeking God’s will. And for the first time, I’m all in with this.
I even went to the beach with them. Yes. I went on a girl’s trip. I resisted the idea for a long time and even made a few excuses but eventually I gave in and loaded into a mini van with 5 other ladies and drove 8 hours to the beach. This was after brow waxing and spray tans of course.
We read and shared books, ate donuts in our swimsuits, took personality tests, exchanged gifts and learned to pray like monks. All in the name of friendship and rest.
So, weird girl (or perfectly normal girl!), with your insecurities and worries about friendship. Here’s what I want to say to you: Take the risk. Trust God to lead you through the ups and downs of friendship, seek friends who will hold you accountable, seek friends who seek God and then pull your weight in those friendships. It’s worth it.
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.