(Just a few of some friends….sadly, I don’t have pics with some of my friends!)
Ever since I was young, the majority of my friends were guys. Why? It was just easier. I’m not, nor have I ever been, a super dramatic kind of gal. I’m the you-get-what-you-see, sarcastic, a bit inappropriate, wear-my-feelings-on-my-face, kind of gal. It’s probably why women want to know me but don’t know how to be friends with me. I can’t even blame them. In the world of women I can easily stand out as the oddball. I’m more likely to make a “that’s what she said” joke rather than chat about Rustic Cuff bracelets or the Pioneer Woman cookbook. I know I should love Pandora charm bracelets, all of the makeup stuff sold by my friends, and every trendy fad diet//exercise program out there…but I don’t. I love good coffee (not Starbucks), being outside, chatting theology and big ideas, and planning adventures. It’s why I have never really established deep, long-lasting friendships. Until recently.
It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I realized the true need I had for female friendship. I spent a good portion of my 20s making my husband my best friend and expecting him to fulfill the role of female best friend. Working and attending church in my community closer to my home became 2 key factors in building and deepening friendships. I began building friendships, but I still struggled to get to a deeper level that I knew was possible. It’s really in the last few years that I started having deep friendships with women–even though I’m not the super girly, super dramatic type. Plus, my friends are diverse–in age, in occupation, in talents, and in status. Here’s what I’ve learned about true friendship at the middle stage of life:
- A true friend listens–to your problems, your gripes, your frustrations, your ideas.
- A true friend asks questions that challenge you. My very best friends aren’t afraid to ask me questions that make me think, make me justify my ideas, make me re-evaluate my decisions. This is why I value diversity in my friends and in life.
- A true friend isn’t a millenial. At 36 years old, I like those 20 somethings, and it’s great to mentor, have a sister to chill with, or have coffee with millenials–they need that time to talk about themselves and their dreams, but to be a best friend is very difficult. All they can really offer is hopes and dreams and social media. A deep relationship with a millenial isn’t realistic for a middle woman, like me. They have no idea what life as a wife, mom, and long-time employee is really like.
- A true friend understands that husbands and children and jobs have to come first. They understand the chaos and the struggle that is momhood and wifehood. They stick by you as you battle along in the chaos and offer encouraging texts and phone calls.
- A true friend checks up on you. See #4! A very close friend started texting me almost every night–to ask about my day, check on something that she knew was happening. That mattered. Sure, it was 10pm, but it was the only time of day that we both had available. We could text, check in, and feel like we were still connected. This made a huge difference in my friendship.
- A true friend makes sure you are growing closer to God…or if not, asks why. My deepest relationships are with other Christian women who will speak spiritual truth. I’m a truth-teller, sharp-shooter, so women who coddle aren’t my type. Tell me I’m wrong or tell me I’m right, but I want the truth and I want my friend to want what GOD wants for me. These are the truest and rarest of friends. I’m thankful to have found a few of these friends these last few years.
- A true friend reminds you who you are. When you feel down or have low self-esteem or are talking crazy…they remind you of your value and your worth.
- A true friend holds you accountable. One wanted me to hold her accountable for eating choices, another friend constantly asks me about my training. These types of accountability are crucial for a growing relationship.
- A true friend will tell you the truth...about your weight, your thoughts, your issues. Don’t lie to me. Don’t coddle me. Don’t wrongly advise me.
- A true friend will make time to see you…even if it’s only once a month. Some friendships I’ve attempted to grow just never make it very deep because a mutual commitment to see each other is essential. It’s okay that some friends stay surface-level, but if you want the relationship to grow deeper, both parties must make the effort to put aside husband, children, job, training…and just have gal time.
Please realize, I didn’t put aside my sarcasm, inappropriateness, and facial expressions–I just found a few people who are either A.) like me or B.) accepting of me. S0 what have I gained from female friendship? I’ve gained a more complete and full life that allows me and encourages me to put God first and family second and enjoy community with Christian women where I can grow and laugh and create memories outside of my family.
If you are reading this and can think of friends who fulfill you–then send them a text and thank them! Having deep friendships is vital! If you are reading this and wishing, like I did for so many years, for a friend who will listen, ask, understand, give truth, and make time, then start at church. Start by being a good friend and taking the first step. Building friendships takes time and effort and energy….and as moms, that is the last thing we have left! However, the time and energy and effort is worth it! If you see a mom who lacks a deep connection, especially new moms, reach out to them. Start the conversation.
My 15 year marriage to my husband is a treasure. Being a mom to my two girls is a treasure. Having deep friendships with Christian women is a treasure. These treasures are all satisfying in different ways, but they are all essential and God-ordained…and I can still be my sarcastic, witty, intelligent, t-shirt and leggings neurotic kind of gal.
Wishing you a deep companionship in the middle of chaos,