Let’s be honest — girl culture isn’t always great. Even in the church, it can be really hard to find spaces filled with women that are inviting and open.
Female friendships are hard, y’all. What should be a safe and welcoming space is too often competitive, toxic, and critical. Spiritual sisterhood is a rare thing, and the intentionality we so love to talk about in romantic relationships is even harder to find in a friendship.
Not only is mutual effort important, but if we’re all really honest, things like gossip, rumours, and playing games with each other didn’t all get left behind in high school. It would’ve been nice, but old habits die hard, and somehow they sting even more so when they can’t be excused by age.
It’s easy to point fingers, but the truth is that the world has been pushing us into this fight our whole lives. We can’t change that overnight, and we can’t undo any mistakes we might’ve made, but we can decide to change the spaces we’re in.
1. Be the woman you needed as a girl
This is one of the most powerful quotes I’ve ever heard, and very applicable to this topic. It’s something to keep in mind in terms of mentorship, and raising up the next generation, but also an important principle for the generation we’re in. Be the woman you needed yesterday, last week, or a year ago.
Invite a friend to grab coffee. If you know someone’s going through a rough time, check in on them. Call your friends. Ask a stranger to sit with you on Sunday, stand up for others, and be bold in the pursuit of loving well.
2. Embrace humility
There is a lost value to grace and humility in the eyes of our world, and it’s something we need to restore. No friendship is perfect (that’s okay!). Even intentional, Christ-centered, grounded relationships will have their rough patches and harsh words. But own your stuff. If you’ve hurt a friend, apologize. If someone has hurt you, talk it out. Fear and pride can keep us from having these crucial conversations with people around us, but authentic friendships need honesty.
Conflict doesn’t equal death in a friendship. Growing together is a powerful thing, but you have to be willing to come to the table.
3. Know when to stop talking
Friendships are an important space to process, heal, and seek wisdom. In fact, those are some of the greatest benefits of close friendships. But they can also be hotbeds for gossip and criticism. Note: there is a massive difference between discussing a situation with someone you’re close to and actively tearing someone apart behind their back. I’m a verbal processor, and my friends are a huge gift to me in that way. When it becomes an issue is when it crosses the line of becoming purely critical or mean-spirited. Ask yourself this: Would I still say these things if the person I’m talking about was in the room?
We were never supposed to do life on our own. Community is more than just being in a room of people, and this last year has been a perfect example. As followers of Jesus, the competitive culture is directly oppositional to how we are called to live. Where the world tells you to come out on top, He says “I am enough for you”. Where the world encourages you to get the last word, He says “forgive others as I have forgiven you”.
Do the hard thing. Get real with each other. Choose grace over judgment, be intentional, and love in all you do.
To read more from Anika, visit her website.