I have a confession to make: I'm not a girlfriendy kind of girl.
I'm not even much of a girly-girl, with the exception of I like having good hair and I wear lipstick everyday. Beyond that, it's jeans and T-shirts mostly. I occasionally do my own nails.
But I mean, I'm not the oh-look-at-those-cute-shoes-let's-go-shopping-together kind of friend. As a matter of fact, the other day I was clearing branches and brush from the poopy pasture and I said, "I'd rather do this than shop, any day!" And I meant it.
I've never done a Girl's Weekend, don't go in for lots of women's conferences, and rarely just "do" things with girlfriends.
I think I may have been stunted as a teenager.
I felt so gawky and buck-toothed and churchy then, when everyone else was cool and pretty and not-so-churchy. I learned to be funny but unapproachable, fitting in without risking rejection. I relied on my sister for friendship, and didn't put any effort into other relationships.
I married young, then started a family. By then, there wasn't much time for anything but diaper-changing and nursing babies. Oh, I always had friends in the circuit, but no one I could really just pick up the phone and talk about nonsense with. There always had to be a purpose for a phone call...never "just to chat."
These days, things like church gatherings can still be awkward, so I try to busy myself with serving, rather than visiting and connecting. It's hard to connect in between services and all.
I think perhaps I missed out on something. Or maybe I gave up too soon.
I've come to realize that I NEED other women in my life. I need a few people I can call in the middle of the night, or ask to pray for me, or enjoy a cup of coffee with.
Or, hey, even talk about hairstyles and shoes.
I'm making progress, friends.
I'm grateful for two very special people who have persistently pursued friendship with me, and taught me so much about being accepted and loved. Without them, I might just be a little hermit-lady, all holed up with my computer and coffee! Priscilla, who randomly hired me to paint her baby nursery almost twelve years ago, and Bridgette, my lagniappe neighbor, who checks on me regularly. Each of them has played a special role in my life, and we've developed histories together that are priceless. They've opened my heart up to friendships - and shown me what it means to both BE a friend, and HAVE a friend.
It's life-changing. Life-giving.
Given the busyness of life, it's tough for anyone to start new friendships. Plus, if you're not a girlfriendy girl, what do you have in common with other women? This has always been hard for me. Do you struggle with this, too? It seems like too much work to create opportunities for relationships to happen.
And yet, I believe we need to put ourselves out there and try. When I think of how many times Priscilla called to invite me to coffee or a movie - and I never once reciprocated in the beginning - I know that there is hope. Because I gradually came to trust that her reaching out was genuine and real. She chipped away at my armor of self-sufficiency and showed me how to just "be" with a friend. I'm forever in her debt. I'm glad she didn't give up on me.
It's still easy for me to hide behind busyness and responsibilities. I still fear rejection. But the richness I've found from the few people I've allowed in inspires me to widen my circle. To take intitiative for once, and invite somebody to coffee or lunch. I've even thought about inviting a few women over for a painting session - just to have fun. That might be a way around the awkwardness to get to true connection. I want to do better than I've done in the past.
I want to be a Priscilla or Bridgette to someone else. Because everyone feels awkward and alone - not just me.
I'm finally figuring that out.
How about you? Do you long for a close friend? Do you struggle to find common ground? What are some ways you've found to overcome obstacles to friendship?
I'd love to have a heartfelt discussion about this.
Your online friend, (and starting to be a girlfriendy friend),