I heard from a lot of you when I started revamping my site that you would like to know more about finding deep and meaningful friendship with other women.
I’m not an expert in this area, but I am unusually blessed to have so many wonderful friends in many different areas of my life that put me on the receiving end of good friendship. They’re friends who gift me with friendship where we can both look at each other’s stuff and say, “Me, too.”
This weekend, I was able to experience the kind of “Me, too” friendship that I think is the most important kind of friendship for women.
There is a group of women that is my lifeline to sanity day in and day out. There are seven of us and they’re the ones that I “do life” with, as they say in Christianese.
We celebrate each other’s accomplishments and momentous occasions, we mourn with and for each other, comfort each other in times of need, and we pray for each other day after day.
This last weekend, our sweet husbands took our children and gave us a weekend at the Women of Faith conference in California. Over the four days that we were gone, we laughed until we cried, slept in, went shopping and took in a matinée, and ate ourselves sick. I mean, because, we weren’t cooking, so…we ate all the food. All of it. We worshipped Jesus together, and we were encouraged in our faith.
On Sunday we decided that we would spend our last hours at the beach. I have never seen friendship so perfectly practiced as it was on Huntington Beach on a Sunday afternoon.
One of the women, Lisa, recently became paralyzed as a result of a surgical injury. We’re all still learning the best ways to help Lisa live with this new normal.
As we headed across the long beach toward the water, we decided to tilt her wheelchair up and pull it backwards through the sand. The six of us took turns carrying the beach supplies, pulling the chair from the back, and pushing the chair from the front. The sand was hot and our feet were burning, yet we pressed on, drenched in the sweat of our efforts.
When we arrived at the water, we moved Lisa to a blanket and all plopped into the sand. As we caught our breath, each of us took the time to relax and enjoy the sun and the beach.
While we were packing to leave, we decided that it would maybe be better to carry Lisa, rather than pull her in the chair again. Three of us lifted her into our arms and began the walk back across the sand. It was again another team effort – switching positions, carrying the bags, pushing the wheelchair.
After we placed Lisa in her chair on the sidewalk, I looked up to see all seven of us out of breath, sweating, and crying. It had been such a moment of solidarity and pure love as we all struggled through the hot sand, each of us playing our part on behalf of our friend.
See, here’s the thing we all knew in that moment: true friendship isn’t built on just good times. The foundation of friendship is sacrifice, vulnerability, selflessness, and action. It’s why we are able to be called Jesus’ friends – His sacrifice bridged the gap for us to be with Him and called His friends.
It’s not that joy isn’t a part of friendship. During our weekend away, we spent almost all of it laughing with each other and enjoying each other’s company.
But the most meaningful parts of the weekend were our times reflecting on what we were learning from the conference, sharing our deepest hurts and fears, and our time at the beach. It was honesty and vulnerability. It was selflessness and a willingness to listen to and pray for each other. We kept showing up and saying, “Me, too.”
It’s not the laughter and the easy times that make the foundation of friendship solid; it’s the foundation of sacrifice, selflessness, and vulnerability that makes the laughter and joy of friendship more true.
True friendship does not happen overnight. It requires a commitment and effort from both friends. Not everyone is the safe or right person for you to bare your soul and it will take time and discernment to find those people.
To those of you looking for friends with whom you can be vulnerable, I would encourage you to start small. Invite someone for coffee at your house (or go out if you’re lucky). Set up a play date for your kids so you can chat with a new friend. Make a pot of chili to share. Take a neighbor some cookies and strike up a conversation. Be interested in their life, their story. Listen just as much as you talk.
These friends of mine have been through a lot together – cancer, paralysis, a divorce, and almost losing a child. But before we did all of that, we started with helping each other move into new houses, Tuesday afternoons at the park, and simple invitations to watch the Super Bowl.
If you can start small and be willing to be a safe listening ear, community will find you – you won’t be able to help it. When you find a safe and trustworthy person, keep showing up to be a good friend again and again, and be willing to say “Me, too” – no matter how small or big it is. Before long, the right people will start showing up again and again for you, too.