My first blog post about friendship, and specifically new friendship, seems to have struck a chord with several women. (If you missed it, find it HERE )
What I wasn’t prepared for, however, were the comments about being burned or used by friends in the past. Oh ladies, that breaks my heart! Of COURSE we are going to disagree. Our upbringing, our views and our journeys are SO different.
I’d like to suggest that underneath all inter-female relationship woes there is an underlying current of insecurity. We are so busy comparing ourselves with other women that we end up judging, mom-shaming, resenting and hurting each other instead of what we were DESIGNED to do … BUILD EACH OTHER UP.
I propose a fairly simple solution to this problem.
Self-Awareness. Vulnerability. Compassion.
I believe that a renewed sense of self-awareness will help us chip away at our tendencies to compare ourselves to others around us. Ultimately, open communication and mom community are the cure.
Have you ever sat down, alone or in a group, and written out an assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses? What was the result? Do you feel more self-aware?
I often use the hashtag #keepinitreal. When we KNOW ourselves, we can embrace the gifts God’s given us and rely on His help (and the people He’s blessed our lives with) to work on our areas of weakness. Nobody is perfect, and we can’t all be good at everything.
But we are ALL good at something, and we fit like puzzle pieces into the whole. When we seek to find our place, we can find peace. When we can appreciate the strengths in others as much as ourselves, we are truly #winning. Like hey, she’s great at cooking but I’m awesome at baking … then let her host your family for dinner and bring that lady some cookies! THIS is community.
Knowing our own personalities and limitations are what make us strong, when we’re self-aware.
When we communicate our hearts and let people really KNOW US, then we can put insecurity and comparisons behind us. Being self-aware is first, but being vulnerable about what you’ve learned about yourself is the logical next step. Know yourself, and then be open and honest about who you are.
When you’ve been hurt, I know you feel raw in those places, and your guard is up. I get it. But what I’m telling you, from experience, is that the risk, the vulnerability, is worth the reward. Put yourself out there, even if it’s just for a minute, without being afraid of rejection. You never know how your experience will encourage someone else. Or maybe you’ll find someone a little farther down a similar path who can encourage you. Look at your spouse or significant other … what a risk that was at the beginning. Now look at those beautiful kids and your beautiful life, and BE GRATEFUL YOU TOOK THAT RISK at the beginning. What a great example it is to our kids.
I’ve definitely had those friendships where I’ve tried really hard. I thought, “that person would make a good friend,” or maybe, “that person really needs a good friend … I can be that!” And I invest and I give and I reach out and encourage and gather and … FLOP. Or maybe I’ve come up to a crossroads of sorts, a conflict, a situation … and realize, WOW, we don’t have as much in common as I thought. FLOP.
I’ve had a best friend move away. And you know what? She’s STILL my person, even though I was heartbroken when she moved. I met her when I was 30 and had 2 kids.
I’ve also had friends hurt my feelings. And then we talk about it, like grown-ups and we say I love you’s and we strengthen the bond and move forward. I’ve hurt people close to me too! I don’t mean to be so painful when I’m painfully blunt, usually I’m just trying to help. But it’s my job to know my friends and guard their hearts and sometimes I fail at that.
These are not useless failures. You’re not perfect. (Last time I checked you can’t walk on water. Just saying.) They’re part of your journey, your story, and you can’t be afraid to share it. We are designed to need each other. So need someone, and allow yourself to be needed.
Beyond allowing yourself to be KNOWN, we also need to KNOW those around us. Listen to their words, and hear their hearts. Ask questions. Be encouraging. Seek to understand. Don’t compare and don’t complain. You may not always agree, but you’ll walk away with a more full picture of who that friend really is.
Each of these women that I have been blessed to share my journey with has chipped away at the twinges of comparison, jealousy, envy, judgment or spite I might feel toward them. Because I know them. Because I’ve listened to their heart and sought to understand. Because I shared in their joys and their hurts. Because I was (here’s that buzz word) INTENTIONAL in time spent with them.
To be totally cliché … to have a good friend, you have to BE a good friend. If you find yourself thinking how desperately you need a close friend, consider that there is someone out there who needs YOU just as desperately.
Can we all just agree that mom-guilt is universal, mom-shaming is the absolute worst, we all feel like we’re failing at this mom/wife/life thing and Kidz Bop should be banned in the US and Canada???
So this week, this month, this year … catch yourself in those thoughts, the ones that say you’re NOT GOOD ENOUGH, or that you’re not as good as HER, that you’re ALONE, or that you’re somehow NOT DOING THE BEST things for your family.
THOSE. ARE. LIES.
Instead, embrace the idea that you were created for such a time as this, for THESE children, for THIS husband, for THIS season. Confess your struggles, encourage your friends, share your victories. (Yes, this means I’m giving you permission to post on Facebook when little Johnny finally poops on the potty!) Not everyone is your tribe, but you CAN find them.
Then link arms with your people, and carry on.