“As I get older, I experience more women with major walls up. I even have my own walls I have developed over the years.
When I was in high school, friendships were easy. I would tell my girlfriends everything, and bonds seemed to grow deep rather quickly. It feels like this slowly changes the more you are exposed to hurts and fears throughout life.
The older I get, I realize those hurts and fears become barriers I carry around. It seems ‘safe’ to put everyone at arm’s length and not develop ‘real’ relationships with anyone. The enemy constantly feeds us these types of lies so we will walk alone in this life.
One lie is feeling the need to carry our own burdens.
Instead of sharing the real pains and struggles we experience, we often walk around with the facade of perfection. Meanwhile, we yearn for true, deep friendships with other women.
Recently, I asked a group of women if they had a close girlfriend they could honestly share with when they are going through a very hard time in their lives. Most of them, about 95%, said ‘no.’ From the outside, looking at each one of their lives, you would think they have many great friendships. While these women had various reasons for why they don’t have more meaningful friendships, most of their reasoning was centered on fear.
Fear of being judged. Fear of being hurt. Fear of losing the friendship. Fear of gossip. Fear.
Almost everyone resorted to their husbands for friendship primarily. I totally get this as I have been like that with my husband at many times in my life. He truly is my best friend.
However, we cannot use them as a substitute for good friendships with other women when they are not meant to be. Our husbands cannot relate to women’s issues the same as other women. We shouldn’t force our husbands to carry that role. It’s not in their genes. They were not meant to be like women. That is fine.
That is why God has blessed us with other women. On this earth, we have other women to build friendships with, relate to, pray with, and rejoice with.
God has made us women incredibly relational. It is just how we are. From young to old, introverts to extroverts, we all crave connection with other people. That is how God uses us to spread the gospel, to speak and encourage others, and to be the light in this world. If we deny that, we deny part of our purpose here on Earth.
Some of my favorite quotes by Shauna Niequist, who constantly writes about pursuing real friendship are:
‘When we do the hard, intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into daily life.’
‘Friendship is an opportunity to act on God’s behalf in the lives of the people who we’re close to, reminding each other who God is.’
I am an extrovert and have definitely had many great friendships in this life. I’ve also had some very painful friendships. In these times, I tore down every wall and was fully vulnerable but still walked away hurt or lost the friendship. Many times God brought reconciliation in His timing, but these types of experiences form the walls I’m tempted to put up against others.
I know God does not want that for me, so I have to mentally and physically push myself to be open to pursuing friendship in a deeper manner. I now find myself praying differently. I pray God would guide me in friendship. I pray He would allow me to let go of the fear of judgment, fear of being hurt, fear of the friendship not lasting, or even fear they don’t view me the same way I view them.
It is still very much a process for me, but there are a few women (let’s be real…you can’t go ‘there’ with everyone, nor is it wise) I am going past the surface with. We ask each other ‘real’ questions. We share our real pains and struggles. We rejoice with each other’s successes in life. We share about our pasts and how we were brought up. We share our fears and our joys. This is real friendship. It is still very scary for me. At the same time, I’m pushing to not be in bondage; I’m not choosing loneliness in this life. Instead, I am getting to know people on a real level.
Once I turned 30, I just didn’t have the patience anymore for the superficial. I wanted to take off my mask, and I wanted to be close with others who can do the same. It’s refreshing and freeing.
If other women aren’t willing to do that, I’m no longer offended. I just realize that is as far as I can go with them, and we probably won’t have the kind of deep bond from sharing our ‘truths’ with each other. This is OK. Everyone doesn’t need to be there with us. But I do encourage women to pursue a friend or two, with whom they can have a real, genuine connection. Our vulnerability makes someone else feel it’s ‘safe’ to share their vulnerability also.
Christ wants us to walk with each other in this life. We live in a world of sin. We have a real enemy and are all attacked daily. That is why we are encouraged to carry each other’s burdens. However, no one can carry your burdens if you don’t share them.
I have decided to trust God above trusting people.
People will fail you every time, but He will not. Any friendship I have, I pray about. I trust He will guide me and show me what friendships to pursue. I trust He will show me when it may be time to back off or stop pushing for the type of close relationship I crave with an individual. I trust He will guide me on what to share in my friendships.
I don’t have to worry about all the ‘what ifs’ when I give Him every relationship I have. I can tell Him my fears and concerns and rest in knowing He will take care of me. Change happened when I realized I am not a victim: I choose how lonely I want to be in this life. I can choose to make the effort in friendship to communicate or hang out with people and to ask those beyond the surface questions, or I can keep everything at the surface and go through life alone.
So, friends, please don’t choose perfection and loneliness. Choose to trust God, choose to share your truth, choose to share your highs and your lows, and reap the amazing blessings of a real friendship with another individual. Someone is just waiting for you to take the first step. It truly is your choice how you want to live this life.
Be the kind of friend you are hoping for.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jehava Brown. Follow her on Facebook here and Instagram here. Visit her website here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
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