I could feel it creeping up. That feeling that makes you almost feel green… like an alien in your own body. I watched her curl her brunette locks and effortlessly wind it up into a perfect messy bun (and this was before the time of the “messy bun…”). She turned with a smile, and in that moment, I made the choice to let go of my jealousy. To just be her friend. It was hard, and it sometime creeped up again… but I’m glad I fought through it. We remain friends to this day… and I’m a better person with her in my life.
Looking back at my childhood and teen friendships, I notice pattern after pattern. And even now, in our 18 years of ministry, women come with tears in their eyes and frustration in their voices. The biggest question I am asked in regards to women and relationships has nothing to do with marriage.
“Why can’t we just be friends?”
These same words spilled out of my mouth to my Mom as I navigated the friendship game in my growing up years. The questions that flowed after that mostly came down to…”Is she mad at me? Why doesn’t she invite me over anymore? I think I heard her whispering about me behind my back…” and these questions and statements were just the beginning. Too many nights I cried my eyes out wondering who my true friends were. And honestly? I’ve done it as an adult while my husband listened.
This jealousy keeps women from building friendships that could blossom into something powerful.
As a good friend so eloquently put it, we as women can be very jealous of each other, in every possible way. This jealousy keeps women from building friendships that could blossom into something powerful. Isn’t that the truth?
Another good friend of mine pointed out, we need strong relationships with women, especially when we’re not surrounded by family. You will need friends who have your back and will support you through hard times. They become your sisters.
Too often we miss potential friendships and sisterhoods because of our own jealousy towards other women. Maybe they have a better job, or their kids are better behaved… or maybe they just have kids. Maybe they were picked for the leadership role at church that you wanted. Jealousy can be as trivial as the fact that they can make a perfect “messy bun.” (Remember my previous story??) Why are we letting these things hold us back? We know that no one is perfect. We choose to let our own insecurities and jealousies drive us away from each other… and division is only caused by one being… Satan.
The biggest complaint we’ve heard from women since planting a church is how hard it is to break into community with the other women at church. Some have joined our church and then immediately think that there is a “friend clique” in place already… when that is a perception they walk in our doors with. Too many times, I hear women complain that they have no supportive community to speak of… but then in turn, they won’t show up to bible study… or discipleship groups… or any church events where women are desperately trying to find community. It seems preposterous to me. Unintelligent. And self-damaging. Why is it so hard to get women to be friends?
Why is it so hard to get women to be friends?
I understand that some women are introverts. But at some point, all women must choose for themselves to take a step or a leap of faith. Believe God that He will watch over you even when you’re in awkward situations. Trust that community is what God desires for us.
There are also women who are so extroverted that they believe that people don’t like them because they are so outwardly opinionated or very driven.
Ladies. It doesn’t matter who we are at our core. We need to give each other some grace in knowing that none of us are perfect. None of us ever will be.
I myself am a self-forced extrovert… because I’ve learned that I won’t have community if I don’t try. If it were up to me, I would stay home all day, every day… cleaning, writing, playing with my kids, painting furniture… the list goes on. I love being at home. But I love the feeling of family/community I get from those that surround me at church on Sunday more. I love feeling that taste of heaven that lifts you up when you have friends laying hands on you in prayer. I love it when I can laugh and joke with friends over a meal after we’ve dreamed about the vision that God has laid on our hearts. I love community with the body of Christ more than my own selfish wants and desires.
The Missing Element
Cliques have no place in Church. Why? Because we’re not a high school. We’re not a middle school. We’re a family… broken and healing… where love, grace, truth, and forgiveness are always sought after. At least that’s what we are CALLED to do. And if we can’t PERSONALLY seek after that… then we are missing out on eternal life here and now; the kind Jesus talked about. (But more on that later!)
I think we’re missing out on something in our Christian walk that we think we’re really good at, but we’re missing it… completely.
There’s a passage of scripture that is quoted FREQUENTLY… and yet, I think, we have yet to master it. And the evidence of this is obvious if we are still failing in our friendships and relationships.
Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (TPT)
Here’s our main relationship killer. Our lack of love for each other. If we truly loved the way Christ loved us… jealousy would be a distant memory. If we focused on love, we would be patient with those we were developing relationships with.
We would be kind and gentle even if others weren’t always kind and gentle back. We would high five, hug and congratulate others when they succeeded, even if it meant we received nothing in return. We would stop asking for honor when we thought we deserved it, and we would stop always being irritated at others no matter how many pet peeves they triggered.
If we truly loved, we would forgive immediately… even if an apology never came. We would find a firm foundation in our relationships where support and encouragement reigned supreme amidst all odds. And most importantly, we would never give up on believing a person could be our next friend. No matter how long it takes. Love wins in the end. Jealousy only brings defeat.
We would never give up on believing a person could be our next friend. No matter how long it takes. Jealousy only brings defeat.
Love wins in the end.