Sunday, May 27, 2007

Friendships of Women, Part 1- Beginning a Friendship

I have encountered several women lately who feel lonely and friendless and were not taught how to "do" friendship with other women... they don't know what a good, deep friendship feels like, don't know what it looks like, and aren't sure it's worth the risk of being hurt or rejected to take the time and energy to be transparent with a woman friend.

So, I'm starting a series today about the friendships of women. It's something I've been reading about over the last several months, and something I myself have learned how to do incrementally. I hope it will be a blessing to you.

Today, we'll address the question:
how do I start a friendship with another woman? As time goes on, we'll address how to select women friends, what genuine friendship looks like, how to maintain friendships, the seasons of friendship and various kinds of friendships that happen among women. I'd LOVE to have your input, stories, and insights on these things, so please join me as we discuss the friendships of women.


PART ONE: HOW DO I START A FRIENDSHIP?
If you are a woman who is like the one I described above, perhaps feeling lonely or like the last girl picked for the kickball team, I want to encourage you. You CAN have close women friends, if you want them. Perhaps you just need a faithful friend, one who will stick by you through thick and thin, like Ruth was for Naomi. Or maybe you need a friend who will rejoice with you when everyone else is judging or pessimistic, just like Elizabeth was for Mary. Could be that you've been burned by friends in the past and aren't sure whether anyone else is worth the effort. Whatever the case, I'd like to encourage you to step out and befriend another woman. In all likelihood, that other woman is probably hurting and unsure and needs encouragement, in the same way you do. Here's where I'd start:

FIND ONE ADMIRABLE WOMAN
Look around you at church, at homeschool groups, in your community, in your neighborhood and see if there's one woman who's ahead of you on the road you're on, even if she's only ahead of you in one area, and see if you could begin spending regular time with her.

For example, if you are a quilter, find someone who is an excellent quilter and is an empty nester. Ask her if she'd be willing to come over during the kids' quiet afternoon reading times/naptimes for littles and teach you a few things, or if you guys could just quilt alongside each other. If you like to think through new theories and learn about new things, look around your church and find a woman who thinks deeply... a woman who reads challenging books... and then ask her to come over one morning while the kids play in the backyard, so she can share with you what she's learning in her most recent book.

If you're a homeschooler, find someone in your area who has done that well, and invite her to come and mentor you about better ways of getting things done. Or perhaps there's a woman who has a really strong marriage, or has endured much tragedy in her life. Invite her over for lunch and to stay for conversation while the kids take a nap.

TAKE THE FIRST STEP

Sometimes you have to "put it all on the line" so to speak, and just ASK. People may not know you need a friend, and they're busy going through their lives at the same time you are. They may assume you have friends in your neighborhood, or friends through your husband's work, or friends from high school/college, or friends in your homeschooling circle, or friends through ________, and not even realize that you need a friend too (even if they're lonely and needing a friend as well)!!!

This is the way that I have made most of my best friends... by putting my fears and insecurities on the line and just making time to get to know another woman. Basically, it's Titus 2-ing but I don't expect to learn EVERYTHING Titus 2 talks about from one woman (although there IS one particularly good friend in my life that has taught me many major things in life)... but if I can learn about personality theories from one friend, about creativity with children from another friend, and learn grace and kindness from another friend, and hospitality from another one, and cross-cultural things from another one, well then pretty soon, I've not only learned a bunch of new things (from people who are good at those things), but I've also made a bunch of great friends.

DON'T LIMIT YOURSELF TO ONE, BUT START WITH ONE

For me, it all started out with one. I now have many friends with whom I share what I would call a deep friendship, with whom I can talk openly and transparently, feel at ease to "be myself" and not feel judged, and can share just about anything. But it all started with one friend like I'm describing... taking time to get to know each other. Intentionally opening up, bit by bit... and it didn't happen overnight.

But if you start with one, then soon you'll be better at being a friend and making a friend. Once you have a friend who shows you how to quilt, then you may realize that you'd like to have a friend who can help you to have a better marriage, or how to be more patient or creative with your children. The sky's the limit on what you can learn from other women! But you've gotta take the first step and start with one!

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It has been such a blessing in my life to have women to learn from, grow with, be taught by, and teach. I love the women that I have shared my heart with, and know that I am loved in return.

It would be my prayer for you that you will have deep, loving friendships with other women in your life as well. That God will give you at least one other woman with whom you can tear down your walls and just be yourself. That He will bless you with a Sister who will come alongside you and share your burdens on the road of life. I hope this encourages you to think through the friendships and the depth of the friendships that you have; I'd love to hear any thoughts or stories on this topic!



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