Powerful Connection of Friendship
By Claudia Mitchell and Karen Jeanson
Women…many are the roles we play: mentors, bosses, secretaries, wives, moms, grandmothers, but most importantly, we’re girlfriends. We are a rare breed. But did you know that a big majority of us “girlfriends” move eleven times between the ages of twenty and fifty?
Consequently, we need each other – a place to connect – where “everybody knows our name.” Over 22 million women tune into Oprah each day looking for a place to connect. Girlfriend connection is powerful. Drs. Terri Apter and Ruth Ellen Josselson write in Best Friends, “Within female friendships we satisfy our psychological hunger to explore different thoughts and feelings, to expand our understanding of our social and emotional worlds and to exchange insights born out of that understanding.”
Connection happens early. This scene is burned into my memory…a picture I will never forget. Six preschool girlfriends connecting at age five. It was during Sunday school class and all the students in this particular class happened to be female. I asked if anyone had any prayer requests, expecting the usual sick pet or sick grandma response. Lydia, a tiny little thing with huge brown eyes that were brimming with tears, raised her hand. “I need you to pray,” she said, getting out of her seat to stand beside me and reach for my hand. “My best doll in the whole world has been taken away. I need you to pray I get her back.” With that sentence she had the attention of all the girlfriends in the room.
“Who took your doll?” I said quietly. And as the tears slid down her cheeks, she told a story that captured my heart and moved the others into action.
Lydia confessed she had a problem with sucking her thumb and her mom had taken away her doll until she could give up this habit. This little girl needed and wanted prayer to stop sucking her thumb. I looked at the other five girls, each leaning forward in their seats, spellbound by the grief of a fellow sister.
Amber was the first to get out of her seat and put her little hand on Lydia’s shoulder. The rest of the girls followed her example. I had such a lump in my throat; I wondered how I was going to pray. I didn’t have to. I watched as five little girls with eyes closed tight held each other while Amber prayed for her girlfriend. “God, please help Lydia stop sucking her thumb. It is really hard and she needs her doll back.” The power of girlfriend connection played out before my very eyes. How it must please our Father! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because… if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”
Fast forward to the present. One of my girlfriends and I felt the same connection at a leadership conference in Nashville, Tennessee. We stayed at the Opryland Hotel along with over 6,500 people. This hotel has an awesome 2,872 rooms and over 50 acres of grounds, all enclosed with nine acres of indoor gardens and a quarter-mile river that runs through the hotel. In other words, a huge impersonal place.
We had anticipated this time together for weeks. My friend had even purchased a hat to match her luggage! We were really going to live it up! One evening, back in our room, we were lying on our beds, eating chocolate and reading. I had just read the line, “God created us to be attached to others” and the Jewish proverb “anyone who goes too far alone…goes mad.” All of a sudden, the lights went out and the words on the page became a reality. It was incredibly dark, like being in a cave, a vast yawning darkness where depth perception is only a hope on the horizon. The first thing we did was open our door and stick our heads out. There was a faint glow in the long hallway from the exit sign, enough to see other heads popping out of hotel room doors, everyone voicing their fears in the same question, “Did your lights go out?” With nervous laughter, we connected, if only for a moment – relieved we were not alone in the dark.
It can be a dark world, but we are not alone. We have each other for such a time as this. 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “…pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Nicole Johnson writes in Fresh Brewed Life, “Boyfriends don’t make good girlfriends.” Sounds a bit obvious, doesn’t it? But how many of us still try to push the men in our lives into a spot reserved for girlfriends? Don’t get me wrong, I have guy-friends, and your husband or your boyfriend should also be a friend, but I’m talking about celebrating the unique role that close female friends play in our lives. Girlfriends bring out so much in us that no man ever could. They understand us, they cry with us, they shop with us, laugh till we…well, you understand. We are sisters who speak the same language, like the same movies, have similar dreams and goals and eat more than we should. Viva la friendship!
Think about how you are connecting with other women. God wants us to connect with each other, to celebrate our “womanly-ness,” our special gifts, intuitions, and compassion for others that He reserved just for us…for such a time as this.
Who are you investing in on a regular basis? Who is investing in your walk with God? Who knows you well enough, outside your own family, to help you through the tough times? Who do you call when you need to vent, need a shoulder to cry on, when you’re busting out with news you just have to share? We need someone to connect with. Another woman. God made us this way. We need each other.
Connecting is what we’re all about as Christian women. John Ortberg writes in Everybody’s Normal Till You Get To Know Them, “To live and contribute to God’s dream of community is the reason you were born. It is what you were created for. Neglect this, and it doesn’t matter what else you do – how many pyramids you build, how impressive your resume – you are at cross-purposes with the Gulf Stream. Neglect this and you will die a failure.”
Look around your world. Who is there waiting in the wings to share your dreams, your goals, your hopes? Who do you “do life” with? Acts 4:32 says, “…the believers were one in heart…” Who are you one in heart with? Who shows up at the same places you do?
If you don’t have a “connecting” person, ask! Every relationship starts with someone taking a risk. Step out on a limb, even if it’s shaky, and say, “Let’s have lunch!” or my personal favorite, “May I buy you a cup of coffee?” Cindy Crosby writes in We Have a Latte In Common that “many of the best friendships I have are built over a cappuccino on the little couch in the corner of my favorite coffee shop.” Time commitments can be small. It’s the quality and availability that count. So invest. Connecting takes time. We must be intentional if we really want to build lasting community with other women. I have just invested in an accountability group with three of the busiest women I know. However, we schedule and make our time together a priority. John Eldredge writes in Waking the Dead, “True community is something you have to fight for.” So let’s fight for it. We need each other, especially now when life is so fragile.
Take a moment to pray for the women God will send into your life if you only ask. Girlfriend connection is strong. Get ready for a life-changing experience!