Ann Voskamp
About the Author

Ann Voskamp is a farmer's wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times 60 week bestseller. Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the...

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
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(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
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Reader Interactions


  1. Oh how I have ached and hidden in fear for what others will think of me. And I still do, sometimes. I worry I’m too much or not enough. I want to not believe when someone really is extending genuine kindness. But, for me Here has also healed. This place of encouragement, where I’ve learned how to live In Courage. You all have been Heaven-sent and just what I needed at the right time. I’ve ever so grateful.

    Your raw heart is your worship, Ann. It’s beautiful and profound, and reminds me of my own–you live Truth.

    Rich blessings as He continues to show you Love in these most profound ways.

  2. Ann,
    Thank You! You were telling so many pieces of my story in this post. This statement you made is oh so true! ‘— no one tells you that the shields you carry to keep you safe, they become the the steel cages that keep you alone.’ It is so much harder to break out of these steel cages. God has been teaching me about friendship and community the past 4 years and I can now say that I have a small group of women that I can be completely real with and I can completely trust. When I took the mask off I was terrified they would run away. I never experienced this type of friendship. Where they listened and heard my story, the pain of my past, the shame and the guilt that I carried. They heard and saw the heartache and loneliness but they also saw me underneath all of that and worked hard to help me dig out from under all that rubble that had suffocated me for so long. They taught me by example about grace and love.

    I’m so thankful to have such wonderful women as friends in real life!

  3. I yearn to know a handful of women with whom I can be real. I too have put on a facade for a while trying to not show the flaws, the cracks and insecurities that I have.Why? Because sadly in my experience that would only have become fodder someone’s gossiping. Thankfully though after moving to my new church I have come to find so many women willing to take a risk and truly share their heart with each other. I would not say that I am completely willing to bare my soul but when I get to that point, it is reassuring to know that there are some ladies around me.

    Thank you for this post…I really do want to be as open in real life as I am with my online friends.

    • Thank you, Mrs. H — for being brave and reaching out in your new church community. Every day, one step of faith, sister… We’re right there with you…

  4. Dear Ann,

    It was not women who I was wounded by, but it is mostly women who are helping me to heal, in all the same ways you talked about. And by reading that it happens to you and to all of the others who will post here, that helps, too. And Sara’s simple “Choose joy” is a simple, painful response.
    Thank you for writing this. And for living the life that inspired it. I’m putting on my khakis -and my courage- and thinking of you and this today.

  5. I hurt from isolation. Having an undiagnosed illness that isn’t readily apparent, I look fine to the general eye. But dealing with fatigue 24/7 with very few respites, not knowing where to turn medically, I feel beaten down, alone. I used to try to encourage people with cards or e-mails, show up to support them at events, but I just don’t have it in me now. I’d love to write someday, but that writer’s block has been a long one. I wouldn’t call it friendship, but I am a member of COLE’s Foundation and leave messages for the people on the prayer board at the website.

    Maybe one day I’ll “get back out there again” – even if it’s only like Sara did.

      • JD– ((hugs)) me too– chronic invisible underdiagnosed illnesses & continued rejection by women –because they are not able to understand we can’t do it all/ do “normal” relationship things. Isolation not by choice but by illness. Rest Ministries has been a great source of encouragement for many… I’m not an online friend-type being that I’m so tactile, but I try. I should get back on their Ning site…. Hope God can become our one really needed… Our one able friend….

    • JD- I too would like to give you a hug, in fact I send you one long distance!! I have suffered with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the past 26 years. I understand how at times you can feel isolated or alone, and that you look like you feel fine, but inside you are struggling in all you do. I have learned to rely on God for my strength and to keep my eyes on Him. With time I have learned to step out when I could and take risks to be involved knowing I may not be able to keep up. God has blessed it. I will pray for you today. When we struggle we gain a closeness to God that others may not experience. You are loved. Hang in there!!!!!!! 🙂

    • Dear JD
      You’ve stepped in the right direction. You’ve shared your heart and your pain. Know that this morning someone is praying for you. Someone cares and asks the Lord to reveal to you HOW MUCH He loves and adores you. L4

    • JD & Anne, I’d love to touch base with both of you. I too suffer from an invisible disease (reflex sympathetic dystrophy) and it’s incredibly difficult sometimes. I’m working to form a support core of women so that we’ll never have to feel alone.

    • JD,
      Your post caught my eye, not because of the topic so much as the illness. My husband had an undiagnosed illness from age 17 to age 34 that wasn’t readily apparent. He was able to be “successful” but the fatigue wore on him and our marriage knowing he wasn’t living full quality of life. By God’s grace we were lead to Dr. Mark Hyman’s “The Ultramind Solution” book and then to a Functional Medicine M.D. in our area. He is still in the long process but enjoys people more than he has in years and sees a light at the end of the long tunnel. The school of thought is not coming from a Christian worldview, but I find it SO compatible with the way God has created us. It may not be applicable, but based on what you said and what we’ve learned, I couldn’t not say anything. I hope it is beneficial for you. And I hope it’s OK I posted something not directly related to the topic at hand.:)

    • Hey Jd~

      Sounds like you’re dealing with “hiddenness”….the feeling of not really being seen. Bless you friend, and I am praying for you right now. May you find comfort in His presence, sustaining you when no one else is there.

      I read a wonderful book….A Traveler Toward the Dawn….check it out.

    • Dear JD. My heart and prayers go out to you. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue 22 yrs ago. I so much relate to your feeling of isolation. A naturopath was of tremendous help with diet and herbal immunte- boosting supplements. I learned to keep what Oprah called a “gratitude journal” and found at least 5 things each day to be grateful for. (I wonder if I am up to Ann’s 1000 by now??) I began my writing by keeping a journal. It’s great practice and it is healing. Jumbled emotions in your right brain need to be transferred to your more logical left brain in order for you to write them down with your right hand (if you’re right-handed that is.) This excercise promotes clarity, discharges emotion and hopefully moves you to become more accepting and hopefull. Your experience could encourage many who are struggling with this debilitating condition. Two of my journals became books. Be encouraged that one day you WILL “get back out there again.” Even it’s if only for a few hours a day.

  6. i remember the girls turning on me in third grade, and again in seventh. it wasn’t until i was 17 that i felt i had real friends. university was a mixed bag. adult life, the kind you start after it’s all over, is when god graced me with so many women. i stood at my wedding reception this summer and thanked all the women who had walked alongside me, had mentored and loved on and entered into my life and showed me again and again the face of jesus. yes, women can hurt, and we can heal. thanks for this ann.

    • It’s in sad how so many of us can relate to these stories? Who would have thought that elementary and middle school could be so tough?

  7. I have been hurt by women on more than one occassion and in more than one way. I struggle daily with friendships and find myself isolated and alone. I recently had tried to open up and make friends, and was yet again left battered and bruised. This is not something I currently have the desire to pursue anymore. I am struggling with this in tremendous ways.

    • I totally understand those feelings! To be honest I found it easier to be friends with “unbelivers” after I was tremendously hurt by gossip and accusations from women who were my mentors and served with me in ministry. I was completely resolved to cave it out alone as I never ever wanted to hurt like that again.
      But lonely is no where to be either.
      God alone held my hand and helped to me find true friendships in Him. He did teach me along the way that He alone is fully faithful. It is not that others want to hurt us, but that we are all still in our sinful minds and bodies until He carries us home. Yes, we can learn to be faithful but still, we all make thoughtless mistakes.
      I am praying for you this morning. That God would hold your hand and help you to find true relationships that will see you for the beautiful person God created!
      Much love and prayers to you sweet sister….

    • I want God to be my all-in-all-friend. But how to do that???! I too have been hurt over & over & over by women– every time I open up again I am rejected again. What is the point?? I don’t know the answer. But must keep my eyes on Him. ((hugs)) to you. Hugs.

      • Dear Erin,

        I have read down through the many comments here at in(courage) and yours spoke to me. God certainly can be your all-in-all-friend, but He does that in many ways. One of the ways He chooses is by bringing human friendships alongside you. I wonder what it is that makes you say, “every time I open up again I am rejected again.” What is being rejected? Can you pinpoint anything that brings on the rejection?

        There are things that really draw me to certain people and relationship courses emphasize these things. A few things that come to mind are that people like people who
        1) can remember a person’s name.
        2) can remember significant events and dates and interests that person has and can make conversation about them the next time you see them. If you can’t remember anything specific, open with a general statement. “Hi, how is work going?” or “Any family traditions you have for this beautiful fall season?”
        3) focus on the other person. People love their name and like to talk about themselves. [That’s why #1 and #2 are so important.]
        4) are helpful, not needy
        5) are positive, not complaining
        6) participate, do not hug the wall

        I find myself falling into the can’t remember who you are, wallflower, “oh, poor me” group way too often. I try to remember what draws me to others and renew my commitment to “step up to the plate”. This is much easier for some than for others because of the way God made us. We are not all extroverts, but, I believe, if we want friends we must reach out. If that’s a stretch for you, I really do understand, but reaching out and risking hurt is the price we must pay for the possibility of connection. I hope I have given you some good pointers on how to reach out for maximum success.

        This comment was really difficult to write because I don’t know you. Please do not take offense because you may not need any of this information, but I struggle with all of this and thought you may struggle, too, so I thought I’d share my plan.

        Blessings on you today, Erin,
        May you feel the love of the Lord strengthening you for the tasks that lie ahead,

      • I want this too but God can not go to dinner with you. God can not share stories about our children… How do you fill that void?

  8. This is incredible I really have never read anything like this before. Also I should admit you described everything so perfectly so even a person who had never experienced anything like this will know what is like. Thank you for that you shouldn’t never stop writing as you making it amazing.

    Greets short term rental london

  9. A powerful post, Ann. But then again, ALL of your posts are powerful. God uses you in a MIGHTY way…thank you for being his instrument. God has blessed me with some wonderful women friends and mentors.

  10. I went through the windshield of a car when I was five. Every year during grade school I had plastic surgery. I felt like a freak with my face constantly being cut on and carrying ugly black sutures. I lived in the country, unlike many of the girls who live in town. I had little if any self-confidence and girls seem to pick up on that early on.

    Through the years it has seemed as though it is women who can pierce my heart, thus…I walk through life with a shield of sorts. I know people much better than people know me. I am seen as a good listener, few, if any, know the Sandi who is a good listener.

    As a pastor I formed a Companions in Christ group 5 years ago. It was all women, I wondered how i would manage. I prayed that Spirit would keep my fearful, judgmental heart opened. Because I am their pastor, I cannot be their “friend”. Still, this group of women have offered me and one another a sacred space that I greatly value. They have shown me it is possible to have a glimpse of the kingdom within a group of women!

    Thanks you, Ann. Your work has touched my heart. I just finished blogging/journaling with Macrina Wiederkehr’s book, “A Tree Full of Angels.” I couldn’t decide on my next book. I thought of using yours, yet I wasn’t sure I wanted to journal online with the thoughts and insights your writing brings forth. Yet, it was your book that God seemed to continually bring back to my fingers.

    Yesterday, I finally posted that I would be using your book to journal. I wrote, “Let’s consider the upcoming three months…Wee Kirk, Homecoming, Halloween, trip to Wisconsin, Turkey Dinner at church, Thanksgiving, Hanging of the Greens, Seven Birthday Celebrations, Christmas Shopping/Wrapping/Decorating, Christmas Eve Communion, Christmas on Sunday morning, New Years on Sunday morning……. Gosh, do you think I might need help in keeping perspective on what it is I am grateful for in the midst of the upcoming demands on my time?”

    Many Blessings on this day, Ann. ~ Sandi

    • The post was so powerful and I too have been far more hurt by women who were trying to help me heal from unspeakable things and far more wounded by women who were in my faith community than I ever have been by “unbelievers.” I too am the one who listens so well and comforts so well and always has the right words but no one knows the “Kathleen” that does all these things. Isolation does separate us from love that can heal us, but I have also seen as it was so powerfully suggested in the post how God can draw nearer to us in our suffering. We begin to trust in God alone to sustain us and we begin to see the love we share is more important than the love we receive. I too suffer from lack of community and pray ardently for it, and I struggle with letting my barriers down and finding a safe place to be me. Your writing Ann puts into words what my soul can not say and has ministered to me in a powerful way. And to all the 82 women who replied before I this morning I applaud you for your grace and courage and your continued risk to love. Love is a risk but it always a risk worth taking. Grace and peace to you all,

  11. i grew up in a household of all girls. just my mother and us 4 girls. we all know the full extent of a womans ability to hurt and heal. what has served us best is not hiding. by immediately dealing with hurts and keeping our relationships in the present, it allows us to be real and true with each other. when women are real and true with each other (vulnerable) it is so easy to identify, sympathize, help, love, share, etc. my friends and church operate this way as well, and i am so grateful! now, i have in-laws though, that love to ignore the elephant in the room, pretend like no ones upset, act like everything is fine, and foster keeping a long mental tab of wrongs. what do you do when you are in situations (unavoidable) that really and truly aren’t “safe”? how do you stay open and real when you will be torn apart for it? “bracing” myself for these encounters has really turned me more into a stranger than family. more of an alien than someone i know. with unsaved family, i can’t be myself and know that i will be covered by grace. unsaved family members are often the ones watching and waiting to laugh at all of your missteps.

    • How I deal with this, too, Marie! Constantly questioning, ‘do I “put off all falsehood”(Ephesians 4:25) in this situation?’ or ‘do the not “throw my pearls to swine”(Matt. 7:6) in this situation and remain wisely silent? I’ve come to do both, putting myself to prayer and asking the Lord to use his Holy Spirit to lead me. And I can honestly say that God is always holding me. There are times when my heart overflows with compassion for my in-laws (yes, they hurt me, my mother-in-law in particular is passive-aggressive, yet she has a life-time of hurts that she holds close to the chest, too!), and there are other times when I feel the Spirit leading me to wisely keep my mouth shut. It’s easy to get defensive, yes, but we must always go before the Lord with a spirit of true humility, because what if He wants us to minister to someone just by listening, or showing love? I don’t want to miss those opportunities when the Lord presents them to me. AND EVEN the times when I do get hurt, and those times are certain, it’s another chance to run to Jesus, to know that I find my identity in Him and Him alone, that I am loved, cherished, precious, delighted-in, FORGIVEN, poured-over with grace everyday for all of my sin (and in this true place of GRACE, how can I forget that I who am forgiven must also give grace and forgive others???)
      Praying for you sister, may we be lead by the Spirit and serve Jesus alone (even if we suffer for His name)!

  12. I’ve been broken in much the same way. But there is one thing I’ve learned over the years and that is how much I can often be my own enemy. It took years to learn that not all women/girls had an agenda to make themselves feel better about who they were, by hurting another. And after all these years I am here today to tell you how I have grown and changed and much in part because I let myself trust again. He told me to trust again.

    So glad I did. I am blessed with a group of women that have touched my life with laughter and filled my heart with memories upon memories. Praying together, eating together,crying together…….Just being together! By their willingness to accept me, they have taught me how to be a true friend. I love my Girl friends……And my heart will always be open to have more, it’s open for God to bless me with more treasured friendships!

    Loved your post! Thank you for your honesty and your willingness to be REAL with so many of us out there. God Bless…….

  13. This is so beautifully written Ann….you have the most amazing gift.

    There was a time , years actually, that I hoped and prayed and longed for this but I have given up!

    Too much hurt. Too much pain. Too much heartbreak.

    And after years and years of it…..

    It’s just not worth it.

    I spend my days pouring myself into the raising of my six precious babies…..and have accepted that true friendship is not written as part of my story… and that’s okay!

    Love reading His words through you Ann…..


    • Sibi,
      You will find in those babies, the dearest of friends… My adult daughters are my most treasured female companions and sisters in Christ. Keep poring in…

    • Hey,
      I just wanted to tell you that it is the darkest before the dawn-when it feels like you will never experiance true friendship, you may be surprised. right now, God is calling you to lean on Him, and to allow Him to be your dearest friend. He’s safe, and won’t hurt you. But some day, I think things will change for you. Get involved with good, Godly women who are truely interested in you and who are safe. See where He leads you in that. Please don’t despair, you are loved!

  14. Ann,
    Thanks so much for writing your heart….especially during a trying space
    and time. As a Chemical Engineer, I lifted a shield to keep many women out.
    I just could not bear up under the measured scrutiny.
    After a renewing of my relationship with Christ ,I have started swimming in
    the waters of His grace….walking in them ….and sometimes standing still while raining grace washes me fresh. Feeling accepted and knowing my only measure is
    Christ has freed me to let down the shield. I can (usually…) stop judging myself….stop
    accepting the feeling of judgement from others. I am free to grace others with
    that same acceptance that I have received from my God….and keep grow ing into the authentic,
    transparent self that God has designed me to be.
    Thanks to God for all of you in courage writers You are His witnesses and though
    I have not met you in the flesh ….I “know” you. Your beautiful hearts mirror Christ and
    are making a real difference. Though I never met Sara her witness of choosing joy
    has impacted my walk……I am encouraged. Thanks….
    your sister in Christ, Jen

  15. It’s sad to think how many women will post today…wounds,scars and prisons that have been inflicted by sisters….I have been deeply wounded…I am being healed…and I have such desire to see a sisterhood of grace and mercy rising in His body. To be that refuge of grace…where there is no need to hide….
    “When we breathe in grace, we finally believe we can be real – and only then can we begin to be changed into the realest versions of Holy Grace Himself.” I pray this for all us women…that we will receive God’s healing…so we can be healing to others.
    Blessings to you Ann….

  16. How have I been hurt?

    By focusing on my friendships with women more than my potential relationships with guys. By looking to my women friends for approval whenever a new guy comes along only to see them compete because they want the guy or scheme to move a better candidate in because they don’t want me to have the guy I want.

    By being excluded. By never having a close group of friends who didn’t pair up with each other and leave me out. By being considered a loyal friend but never having a friend who is loyal to me.

    By not being honest about my true feelings and hurts from years past. I see the same people today and feel resentment and I want to talk it out but it was from years ago and it would just push them further away if I mentioned it.

    By not understanding why friends say great things about me but don’t seem to want to hear anything but happy things from me.

    By feeling if they heard about things that upset me, they would stop being my friend and move on. Sometimes it feels like they already have moved on.

    I hesitated to write this. It’s not the most positive post.

    But to answer the other side of your question…healthy friendships with a community of women could heal me by showing me that it is possible to have lasting, real friendships with people who are loyal and true to you. And it is possible to have female friends who will want you to win a great guy who loves God and you and they won’t stand in your way. And to know that sure we all have had bad experiences in with women friends who have hurt us but that doesn’t mean we have to shut ourselves off from the world…to know that there are many great people out there in this big beautiful world and that God will bring healthy relationships into our lives if we just ask.

    If anything, I’m learning that God is the only one who will never disappoint you and that my life should not revolve around what people say about me or whether or not I have friends who are loyal because really only God will never leave or deceive you.

    • You have written what I could not put into words. I feel invisible.
      God knows all. The place that He puts us is His plan. He does want to show us some amazing things.
      I pray that He will continue to guard your heart.

      • This is amazing. Almost like you took my hurts and fears and put them in writing, except for the “man” part because I am married. But this post is so true for me.

  17. Ann,
    I have been following this blog for over a year now and am amazed, and dare I say envious of this bond and friendship that you and the other incourage writers have with each other. I long for friendships like this. Currently I am reading Emily’s book Grace for the Good girl and it is really encouraging me to step out from the masks and share my heart completely. I feel I have an amazing story of grace to share but I’m too scared to share it. My past and guilt does rob me from deeper relationships not only with other women but with God. Thanks for your post and for being so real. You are very inspiring and encouraging. I don’t want to spend my life longing for friendships like your’s and the encourage writers, I want to live them!

    • Sweet Shelley, I’ve had seasons in my life when I’ve been so hungry for friendship, where I’ve come *this* close to holding up a sign saying, “Desperate woman seeks friends!” No joke. I know what it’s like to feel scared stiff to be real. Even though I now know healing comes from sharing brokenness, it’s still scary!

      Might you consider attending an (in)RL meet-up? Or maybe hosting one in your area? Getting involved in a meet-up accomplishes the same goal as holding up my sign but is less scary. And desperate. 🙂

      Your (in)sisters love you, Shelley. Lifting you up to our Lord now…

      • When you posted the “holding up a sign” part, I almost started crying because i too, have been that desperate. How can I locate a “meet-up” group in my local area?

  18. I realize that much of this focus is toward women. However, as a man I must weigh in. You women have tremendous influence over our lives. Your words can pierce and manipulate. They can life your man up, or tear him down. They can heal, or they can hurt.

    We might have the muscle, but the power rests in your words.

    David, http://www.RedLetterBelievers, “Salt and Light”

    • Thank you David for weighing in. Thanks for the reminder.
      “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Prov.12:18

  19. Dear Ann, you don’t know me, I live on the other side of the ocean, in France. And yet, even though we don’t speak the same human language, and though we never met, you have been the best friend of mine this year. For you have held my hand in hard moments, and every night , you sit by my bed and I hear your words , healing and soothing coming out of your book. You are so right : women can hurt,and I was the geek too, the badly dressed girl at school. But now as an adult I can choose my friends and God has put so many wonderful women on my road. We can connect so much better with other women, they have so much depth in feelings. thank you for your post (as ever) and thank God for friends and great women!

  20. I have some wonderful, wonderful women friends.
    They cry with me, laugh with me, challenge me, pray with me, enourage me, forgive me, be transparent with me -and I am all this with them.
    The thing is no-one is perfect. I have to accept that sooner or later everyone will let me down and I will let them down. and that is OK.
    We all make mistakes. I need to let my friends make mistakes and love them anyway, as they do me.
    Ohhhhhh the relief of not having to be perfect and to be loved and accepted anyway!

    • wonderful words. thank you, I agree… love them anyway as they do us. and yes it is a relief to be love & not being perfect and to be accepted.

  21. When I saw the title, I was hoping this would be about mothers-in-law. :}
    If any of you ladies want to write about that…
    I would read it.

    • M, I have been wounded by my mother-in-law too. She knows the Lord, but doesn’t realize that sometimes Satan uses her words to wound and attack our marriage. I am realizing that she must have been wounded some time in her past and I’m praying that I can see her through Jesus’ eyes. It is very difficult though. I want to be respectful because she is the mother of my husband and grandmother to my children, but her words and actions cut deep. I’ve not always handled conflicts with her the way Jesus would have wanted me too. Only by staying in His Word and walking closely with Him, can I handle conflicts in a way that honors and glorifies Him. That must be my goal; honoring and glorifying Him. Praying God’s wisdom for you in your situation!

      • Many thanks, Jan. I need all the help and prayer I can get. I’ve been collecting advice. 🙂
        I need to write it down so I’ll remember: see her through Jesus’ eyes; stay in His Word and walk closely with Him; honor and glorify Him.
        God has already been working in me, showing me the ways I haven’t been treating her well, either. I called her to apologize and repent, and that was good. Pray things will keep going in God’s right direction.
        Thanks a bunch,

        • I don’t know if anyone can wound you as much as a MIL except maybe your own mom. I know all about this, except mine acts like she has borderline personalitly disorder. If she’s manipulative and exhibits a purposeful tearing down pattern toward you and your family over, say, a few years, it’s really important to just not care what she thinks- to push her to the periphery of everything not with unkindness, but with quietness. To see her as a poor, sad, rather unimortant (to your family life) extra. To show her cool kindness and ignore her when she becomes “whacky.” Otherwise she will suck your children into an emotional contest where only you lose.

          I think neediness is offensive in people, and that is why we are rejected, because we are viewed as needy. I’m awful sorry to everyone who is hurting. I know about a misunderstood chronic illness too. Sometimes we just have to resolve to go it alone. Maybe we will be blessed with friendship after a time of suffering solitude because it is needed to build our character. Sometimes all the “health food” and supplements will not cure you (although give it a try, it has improved the quality of my life). Life is hard. We shouldn’t look to others to help us, unless it is offered after breif sharing. True friends will draw themselves into your life. You can’t just go and get them.

          That said, we certaily must be a friend, and not expecting they will give us the love we want in return.

  22. Feeling everyone’s pain. I have had a shield up for many years, but not just to keep out women. The shield was to keep out everyone. God is helping me slowly bring the shield down. I am thankful for the new friends I have made. Thank you, Ann, for letting God use you.

  23. Opening up has always been hard for me- wearing a mask is easier. I’m learning that intimacy requires being vulnerable. As hard as that is, the benefits of true friendship is worth the effort.

  24. Oh sweet Ann-

    How your words touch me today.
    I have struggled the past few weeks with a friend who went silent….. who has shut herself off from me and the pain is deep.
    She is wounded from her childhood….. gaping holes in her heart. It’s hard for her to trust and I wonder…… is the grace I have to give for her really enough?
    Your words encourage me to keep on giving …… grace upon grace. It’s all we can do….. and I continue to pray that our God would heal the hurts of her heart and make her “friendship” whole again!
    Blessings Ann…… for a week filled with Him!

    • please keep on being her friend. … maybe send a note in the mail letting her know you are there for her.

    • Juanita, I agree with Moe’ keep being her friend… even when she is silent. Give her grace and keep giving it. The grace will be enough… One day. Thank you for being a true friend to her!

    • Juanita – I am a woman like that, wounded, with gaping holes. And I have other issues that appear to others like I am pushing them away, when what I really want is for them to love me and reach out like you have done and are wondering if you should continue to do. I say, do it! 🙂 as long as you can with no strings attached. Your friend may not be able to reciprocate or show her appreciation while here on earth but you will be storing up treasure in Heaven by ministering to her wounded soul. God bless you for sharing His love and grace.

  25. I have been hurt and I’ve been the hurter. Any which way, you’re right about those steel cages. I have seen God show me his direct, cuts-through-it-all love through the faces and hands of the women around me. I can’t believe I wasted so many years turning away.

  26. I have been hurt and I’ve been the hurter. Any which way, you’re right about those steel cages. I have seen God show me his direct, cuts-through-it-all love through the faces and hands of the women around me. I can’t believe I wasted so many years turning away.

  27. I have this gnawing sense that I’m not thin enough, smart enough, worth enough. And each time I try to press toward some hope or dream, my mind fills with words that put me to shame. I hear that I’ll end up being hurt, being called stupid, careless…and I believe those words too much to push past them. A community of women, could help me see, that we all believe these things at times. Whether we’re plagued by these thoughts currently, or have pushed past them to believe that we really are the way Christ sees us. I believe a community of women, beautiful, hurting, hungry women…could show me that we are not really dealing with different issues. To see their beauty and hear the lies they believe…I think may help me to realize that I am somehow beautiful, despite the lies I believe.

    Even typing that, my fingers hover over that sentence…”I am beautiful.” 🙂 I’m still not convinced. But I suppose, it takes an element of saying the words, hearing the words, letting the words fill me. Letting a hand reach out and in. Though it’s scary, though that hand may break me. Though, those hands have broken me in the past.

    I’m learning to be a real friend by loving, listening, praying. Not trying to manage or manipulate my friends’ perceptions of me. I’m learning to be a real friend by loving people honestly, and leaving myself open to be loved. As my sins come to the surface, out in the light…

  28. Ann, how can I ever thank Jesus enough for you and your friendship? I don’t know but I’m going to keep at it forever. Love you–your friendship promise word sister.

  29. So beautiful and so deep. Thank you for writing it I will read it and read it… over and over until the places that need to hear it inside are healed.

  30. I’ve found myself creating an obstacle course before my heart. Blockading areas and making a person work extremely hard to get there. Few have made it through the barrier I’ve set up. But as I’ve allowed them in I have discovered it is good. I’m stepping slowly and cautiously, but you are right, there is healing in that place.

  31. Oh, the hurts run deep from women….girls…and I, in turn have hurt back …to cover up, to try to heal, instead of running to him.
    I still hide, and then I still try to overcome by coming out of hiding and doing too much to be accepted. I am learning to listen to him…to let him heal me and see the hurt behind the eyes and words of others…they too….those who hurt are just hurting souls…some trying to hand it over, others thinking there is power in holding on.
    Your post runs deep…and is appreciated. It’s easy to assume the girls at (in)courage have no problems…have it all together…and it’s so great to be among women who are real…. Thank you!

  32. Not having had any close relationships with women since forever, I do not know how to start. There has always a feeling of not being enough… not funny enough or beautiful enough or …
    Reading Ann’s book and christian women bloggers posts the last few months has started something within me though … It is not what others think of me, but the grace of Him that defines me … and I will learn, along the road ahead.

  33. I think of how God has used even your isolation. Telling your story, drawing others out of their own self erected walls. Truly you have overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony.

  34. Thank-you for this post, I have felt and done these very same things. Afraid to be hurt again I ran from being close then envious of those who have very close friends. I feel broken sometimes but I am learning. I am in a bible study for a second season, I have joined a ladies circle at church and I volunteer at church to help at functions that force me to meet people and reach out. It would be easier to stay home and not put my heart out there again but nothing will be gained by that. It is very healing for me to know I am not alone about how I feel. Thanks again, I am comforted by your words and faith.

  35. Yes, this.

    “Why hadn’t I been patient with friendship?

    Why had I let the past rob me of the present’s possibility?

    Why hadn’t I seen that the price of being safe — is the cost of being solitary?

    Why hadn’t I seen that distrust can destroy a life?”

    I sit here steel caged, wildly wounded. Taking these written words as a key and praying grace to unlock the cage and allow the Father to bind up these wounds.

    Love to you always sweet, Ann. Thank you.

  36. Yes. Your post today resonates deep, so very deep. For me it started in middle school, my clothes, hair never good enough. They mocked. High school was even harder. It didn’t help that we moved ALL the time. Ut then I thought I had found that grace, in my church, but it wasn’t long before the friends I had finally let in turned on my because of a boy. Then not long after that the illness came, it was undiagnosed, no doctor could figure out what was wrong. Their words still swirl in my head, the whispers in corners, giggles, and glances. Never forgotten. More than twenty years later with illness that has bound me to home, bed sometimes, I let someone in. But recently I let her down because of illness, let her children, disappointed them. Perhaps the gravity of my life was too much for her to bear, but whatever the reason, she has moved on to others. and it has hurt a new hurt, but with it brought back all the hurt of the past. A reminder of why I have borders, why I do not let women in those borders. My joy this past year has been finding women on blogs that have fith, love and grace. Women I have never met, have encouraged me, prayed for me and given me hope. Maybe one day I will find one in real life.

  37. Sadly, we live in a jaded and mixed-up world. Just about everyone experiences the stab of hurt that comes from an insult or a shunning. It’s no wonder we’re insecure or clammed up when it comes to friendships and loving others.
    I try to remind myself when I feel left out or disliked by someone that I have an opportunity TO NOT make another feel that way.
    While I’m not perfect….I do try to love other’s with a GODLIKE love.
    Having online friends has been a great source of encouragement and fun. It’s a wonderful way to grow as a follower of Christ. {Iron sharpens iron}

  38. Powerful words Ann. I have been in solitary confinement for many years due to past hurts from women. These date back to my 4 grade class. I can still remember the jabs taken then as easily as those taken last week. My steel cage is locked and guarded. I know the Lord, but am early in my walk. It is difficult for me to forge new friendships or step out in faith. For too long I have convinced myself that I only need the 1 or 2 friends I have. Quality over quantity right? I long for this communion of souls, this meeting of hearts! I yearn for a day when I can be open and honest and share myself, my TRUE self with others. I pray that this will come for me…..

  39. I weep. I rejoice. I dare to draw near. You have no idea how God uses you in my fractured life. There is palpable anointing on you, Ann. I want what you have. NO. I am desperate for what you have. Thank you for sharing the raw cradled in grace.

  40. Oft when life gets too much I tend to SHUT myself off… Some times the isolation is to heal, but by doing so I find that friends become angry AT me. For NOT BEING there for THEM.. I try to explain but they are hurt too & misinterpret my closing myself off as a sign that I am directing something TOWARDS them… . The junk that we allow into our heads (I’m not good enough etc) is not good.

    Each day I am trying to self talk POSITIVES… and let go of the negative self talk.
    to tell my self the following that I heard at a seminar:
    “You are enough.” and “God did not make any mistakes when He made you.”

    • Isn’t it funny Moe’ that I work so hard to teach those lessons to my 10 year old daughter – “God did not make any mistakes when He made you” = “God made you exactly the way He wanted you to be” and yet, I don’t believe the lessons myself?

  41. Ann, there are days when your words fail to amaze. But there aren’t *many* of those days.

    I love it when your heart spills across the page, drops of blood and sweat, still pictures of a living sacrifice yet upon the altar. Im grateful when I can breathe again, deep exhalations; the calm after my own emotional storm has risen, been spoken to, and subsided enough to say: “thank you, these words were for me.”

    I have recently become aware of my heart beating with the burden of watching my wife go through relationships with women, watching her struggle with long shadows and sharp barbs and silly un-intentions. I prayed, and He made me her shield. But not being a woman, there are so many things I have failed to understand, and so – sometimes – it just hurts.

    And so, I just pray. But it took me a long time to learn that response, and I am still getting there.

    And then I come across these words and my tears mingle with your cup of sweat and blood, and I understand a little bit more. (For this thinker, a greater pain often seems to be not knowing)

    My heart aches with His grace this morning.

    Thank you for your sacrifice, this sharing, your love.

  42. Lovely, sweet Southern women who always, always SHOW UP for me…. have healed, or almost healed if I am honest, the hole in my heart that my mentally ill mother tries again and again to deepen…. as she deliberately wounds me with words and her cold, punitive ways. God has blessed me with a husband who helps me discern between God’s truth for us, and Satan’s lies that she speaks. Her greatest anger is my showing her grace, grace is nothing she chooses to grasp. And Ann has taught me much about grace, as do these Southern friends I am so blessed to live amongst, Christian ladies whose love of Jesus is reflected again and again. Praise the Lord for women who have helped heal me.

  43. It seems as if I have been hurt by every female friend that I have had from childhood through my teen years. As a result, I have been reluctant to put myself out there again, for fear of being hurt yet again. It feels like a foolish endeavor. That can lead to isolation, which is also a painful place to be. I suppose I just don’t know how to open myself up to trusting someone again.

  44. This is truly beautiful Ann-gave me chills-love the comment about it not being about the good you can accomplish but the grace you can accept. You’ve touched many women with this post! Thank you.

  45. I’ve tried hard to not even think about being friends with women. Why? They are so hateful and they hurt you just becasue they can. They don’t need a reason. I have always hid from women. You are right though Sara had lots of LOVE! I can’t even imagine her having a hate in her bones. If I knew I could find a woman friend like her I would want one. One that has kind words, let you be you for what you are and not try to make you into something you’re not. I ache for a woman frriend like that.

  46. Ann, I so love your words, your heart. I wish mine would flow. You have so described me today. I find it so hard to open the doors. Seems like everytime I did hurt came through. I’ve been surrounded by the same people my entire life and now God is opening doors to new people. I’m praying that I can keep the doors open. Thank you and blessings to you.

  47. I’ve been hurt, I’ve moved on. Why should others suffer because someone was obnoxious enough to try to hurt me? Why should I suffer. I was bullied by girls and boys, I was intimidated, I was hurt – why should I allow that to keep me from experiencing life and friendship. I choose wisely, I am a giver, and I pray relationships into my own life.

  48. I am a Woman, a daughter, a sister who has an only sister, and a Mother of 3 girls ( and a son). I so understand the power of your words today, Ann. JD, I live with fibromyalgia and understand your words as well. I so want to open the door for more healing. I want to trust the relationships that God has for me. Friendships with women that sharpen me, grow me and encourage me in my relationship with my God! Thank you Ann for allowing God to grow and use you for His Kindgom!

  49. Your not pretty enough. Why cant you be as smart as your sister. Your to short. I remeber being sung the song ….. Short people have no reason to live. So I hide in my inner self. My husband tells me I am beautiful and I wonder who he is looking at it cant be me. …… The hurts are deep and it gets very lonely

  50. It truly is all about grace nn and you teach us that full well.

    I have hurt and I have been hurt, and I have trusted men more often than women because their knives didn’t cut in quite the same manner..

    I love my Lord, yet still walk timidly, afraid of old wounds, new wounds.

    We must risk the hurting to heal…

  51. Oh how I can relate as so many others here have said the same.
    I yearn to find that kindred group of women to have the “Beach House” with. It is my prayer
    But I find it so hard to get past the hurt to be open to letting it happen.

  52. I have been thrown into a sub culture of the private prep school world as my husband works at one and my children can attend tuition free. But it has not been at a cost. It has been very difficult for me to find authentic sincere friendships with many of these women who are incredibly wealthy and often self centered. But it has taken time, patience and some battering. It ‘s the showing up for things that are hard for me. But if I don’t… will my 15 year old daugher and 5 year old daughter learn to develop good friendships with nice girls? How will they learn resiliency?
    I am still working on this….I loved the honesty of the article. Most women don’t ever discuss this.

  53. I’ve been thinking a LOT about this very thing lately. Just in this past year I have been hurt by women and encouraged so much by women around me. Some I believed to be real friends and now I don’t know what to think. Some are new friends that I want to get to know, be a friend to them, open up and let them in and it’s hard after being hurt. I feel like a clam ready to snap shut at any sign of trouble. It is so so true that “You breathe different in a room when you know it’s not about the good you can accomplish but about the grace you can accept.” I want to just love others and be loved and not pay any attention to the lies from the enemy that he is throwing in the way all the time to try and destroy us and the friendships and the fellowship.
    Focusing on what is True and what there is to be thankful for even after being hurt is so helpful. Thank you for sharing today Ann!

  54. I started out reading this post and relating to the wounds . Like the many times kids called out carrot top or the time the girl commented on one of the only braids my mother ever took the time to weave that my hair looked like a horses tail.
    I forgave these assaults and covered them in the blood a long time ago, but the wounds and scars present themselves still in interactions and walls with other women…unspoken assumptions. Thank you for sharing truth and LOVE, your transparency helps all of our wounds and scars disappear in His grace and love!

  55. I have been blessed by good friends, and hurt by bad ones. But the blessings far out weigh the hurts, so that is a blessing in and of itself. I am an extrovert, so I have many friends. Ironically, most of my wounds have come from my family…alcoholic mother. So I cling to these woman friends of mine and am thankful. And I focus on the fact that my worth doesn’t come from my mom, or even my friends, but my God.

  56. Beautiful Sister, well before I knew you, God used your words to heal me. Whether your words speak through computer screens, books, or in person, you take us to the heart of Jesus and we are all the better for it. Your friendship is a gracious gift! Much love to you and yours…

    • What Kristen said. Amen and amen. There are so many here in the comments that I am so glad I met in real life at Relevant last year and am sooooooo looking forward to seeing again this year. I find so many of you {writers of (in)courage and commenters} to be true friends who pray and uplift and extend grace which all leads to healing in ways I could not have imagined.

  57. How fitting to be reminded of the need for the friendship of other women on a day when I am struggling to decide if I will attend our church’s woman’s meeting tonight.

    God has used this community to heal me even though they don’t know it, even though I have never shared my dark places. I have spent some 18 years now getting to know these women and I know I belong even on those days when I feel outside of their circle. I know that one of them will reach out and draw me into the fold.

    Graced with this name years ago by a past preacher’s wife, they are….we are… JoyMakers. I am reminded today to open up just a bit and let them bring joy into my life.

  58. I cried last night because of how lonely and homesick I felt. Ann –these past few months, yours are the words I have needed to hear, to give me courage to lean in, and lean in again.

    And again, today. I don’t know how but I pray God will show me.

    • I can really relate LS. I was crying last night over loneliness. God hears us and sees our tears and has plan. Let’s trust His goodness through the pain. We are not alone no matter what we “feel” like.

  59. Hi Ann,
    You are a kindred spirit even though we’ve not met…thank you for taking the risk of being real. Your transparency has made you a safe place for so many, many women as you give voice to their hearts. As being a part of the retreat was healing for you, I wonder if (in)courage has considered making it possible for women to connect with others in the (in)courage community in their local area? We might have someone 2 miles away who shares a longing for transparent Christ-centered friendships, but no way of knowing that. Does anyone else have an interest in this? Thanks for listening, Ann, and (in)courage.

  60. I was discussing this with a guy friend two night ago. Why are women more complicated? Why was it easier to trust a boy to be a good friend, and always be looking over your shoulder with your girl friends? What happened to the quiet and gentle spirit Peter was talking about in 1 peter chp 3 that should adorn us? What about yourself? Are you a friend to other women who can be completely open with you? I asked myself. It is very important to me to first examined myself. And I desire to be a good friend. And I would be lying if I said I never gossipped or never judged. I was blessed with wonderful women around me all my life. You might think that guy friends are better, but this is not so. (and it shouldn’t be so if you are married!) The sisterly bonds GOD creates between two women who have integrity with each other and fear and love the Lord with all their hearts, is a very beautiful sight. I am happy I have many, and I pray I may be that woman for other women too!

  61. Wow, this hits home today.

    I have tried several times to join the massive women’s Bible study at my huge church. Both times I braved going in, I was left to stand because there were no seats left. While I was standing there, everyone just looked at me. I was horrified. This has happened on two separate occasions. Once I simply left the book I purchased for that Bible study – ironically, “So Long Insecurity!” LOL!

    I wish I had some more Christian women friends in real life. I am too petrified to try to go into the clique-y Women’s Group at my church again.

  62. I find myself struggling with this issue AGAIN in my life as I watch my oldest daughters make their way through this minefield. My biggest fear is not that they will give in to peer pressure on the big issues–it is that they will be wounded by those they thought were friends. Obviously, I have felt this, and I long to protect them from it.

  63. Oh my, Ann. I feel as though I could’ve written many of these words myself. I’ve always been slow to let people in, and yes I long ago realized that building walls not only keeps them out but also fences ME in. It’s comforting to read of your experience, and to know that friendship really is out there, if only we’re brave enough to let it in.

  64. Thank you, Ann. What incredible words. So true and so deep for every one of us. I have felt hurt from friends and from my own mother, and I am sure I have hurt as well. I have hid from potential friends so many times and have ached to belong to a safe group of women. I locked myself into a prison of loneliness, and it brought more despair than I can recount. However, I’m healing, thanks to some friends the Lord has brought into my life. Though now I’m wondering where the Lord wants me, what He wants me to do with the comfort He has brought me. I long to lead groups where all women are welcome and feel that way. I long to give women a place to just be them, a place where they’re loved…thank you for reminding me of the probably place God may be leading me.

  65. I, myself, have no close friends. I use my family as an excuse, kind of. You see, a past addiction left many burned bridges. I tried to build a few back and i was rejected. I finally quit trying. Even my own sunday school couples class shunned me. It was like the scarlet letter except the “A” stood for addict. My 4 children became my only focus and my source of feeling needed and wanted. We have since moved from my home town where i have no women friends to a new town where i have one friend. I got involved in blogging so i could find community. Thank you Ann for being so real. Your blog is my source along with God and His word .

  66. Today I have a picture in my mind of a winding drive home from the beach and a moment when I looked over and thought how truly undeserving I have been. Do you remember? I laid my hand on your arm and said “I’m not an easy person to love, I know that.” But what I wanted to say was that you have healed me with your kindness and your gentleness and that I’m humbled by it – laid low with grace….and that flawed and mixed up as I can be, I am here with you for the long haul. Soul-companions all the way to the end. I put it here so you would know that I am proud to say so. I love you.

  67. I am so glad to know that I am not alone in this experience. I have been wounded so deeply by other women that for many years I lived in isolation thinking no one cared and if they showed any sign of caring it was only temporary. Even as recently as last night I was wrestling with once again shutting down and not allowing one more woman close enough to hurt. BUT GOD!!! I am so grateful that even when I want to regress to old ways He won’t allow it. I am learning to love inspite of the the wounds I may suffer because I know the Healer who makes all things new. Please keep me lifted. It’s not easy but He never said it would be.

  68. It’s hard to be third fiddle in relationships with women. To be the one who isn’t called or invited. I am living in a new town far from home and I always feel left out and the “stranger”. God’s been showing me that it is better to be giving than receiving so I’ll give on to those I have found even if they don’t invite me over. I can’t let Satan allow my heart to grow bitter towards those who are too busy for me. I will continue to reach out in love FOR Love’s sake, not my own. It takes God’s grace to do this though.

  69. How I wish I had heard these words years ago. Maybe then it wouldn’t be so hard to tear down walls of self fulfilling rejection. Something that was started in my childhood followed me into adulthood. Walls, built for a purpose, to keep them out and keep me protected in. I’ve met many wonderful women friends as a military wife and shared some great times, but once I left it seems I took the friendship with me. Periodically they reach out, but I find I don’t want to reach back. Why, so I won’t be rejected. Now I look at my life then, the kind of nomadic life that I convinced myself suited me and realize it was easy because I had no intention of staying, in anything or anywhere. No one else in my family could fathom relocating so often and now after almost thirteen years of being planted in one place (retirement) I yearn at times to still get away. All I can say is but grace right now that I’m seeing things differently, but…God who working in me to convince me I am special, loved, wanted and needed and definitely not rejected. I’m believing it, slowly but surely.

  70. I think I have forgotten how to make friends. I am certain (and wrong) that every woman I meet will eventually betray me. And, yep, I’m peering through the bars of that cage you mentioned. I’m trying, though. Making small changes because, “it’s better to have loved and lost…” It’s hard, because I’m so afraid of the rejection – that same rejection I remember from fourth grade and seventh grade and college and just last last year. Thanks for your honest words. I will remember them the next time I start to pull away from a budding friendship.

  71. Thank you…. I recently found this site and through each and every writer I feel myself becoming stronger. Your stories and words are not only mine but a number of women out here who have spent their lives thinking they are the only ones, protecting themselves against the “dark”, and allowing the walls grow higher and higher, thicker and thicker. I realize that I will remain sitting here on the outside looking in unless I put myself out there, allow myself to be a friend, allow the healing to begin, start knocking down the walls. Thank you for the safe place to begin exploring and putting myself out there. God Bless each and everyone of you who write the words of encourgement. You are touching lives and healing!

  72. Twenty-three years married to my best friend. I followed gladly all the places his life’s work (a pilot) took him, shared deepest intimacy – our bodies, thoughts, Christian faith, hopes, and sorrows too. And his secret- a life addicted to spending/gambling/lying/guilt. Ten years ago, he chose to walk away, broken, and yet determined to hold onto that greater ‘love’. Refusing grace.

    Friends, godly men and women graciously prayed me through those days. But now, ten years on, loneliness haunts. I find myself at the circle’s edge, knowing it is what I have chosen – how do I trust myself in friendship? In my blessed Christian community, I am still the smiling, generous encourager, the faithful in adversity one, but my heart aches, waiting, whenever possible, in the car, for my teens, slipping away quietly after services, making sure necessary conversations focus on the experiences and needs of others, exhausted in giving, and not knowing how to receive.

    It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer…

  73. Ann,

    When I was younger, 11 or 12, I had a friend named L. She and I were very close, until I was maybe 14. Then, she grew up. She had a boyfriend and makeup and expensive clothes and a nice house and I had none. She ignored me and told many other people who knew us both that I was mean and ugly and stupid. Not only did I lose her friendship, but I lost several others because of it.

    It has taken me years to finally forgive her and the words she said to and about me leave scars to this day, but through several good friends and the grace of God, I have found healing. We women often don’t understand the power that our words have on other women. Because of the way L hurt me, I think twice when I speak to other women. The insicurities that L’s words caused have taken me years to reverse and I am still struggling with the smallness and insignificance that she made me feel. Thank you so much for your honest posting about this. It is something we all need to think about.

    Thank you for your invitation to join this conversation. May we all learn something from this!

  74. My first taste of rejection and wounding occurred the very first day of high school. However, I was blessed with sisters who took me under their wing. Personally I find that women will include you if you “do as they do”. I’ve stood on the periphery of circles and quietly asked “why”? But, when I leave those instances I find that I’m content with my decision to not bow to the pressure of other women’s insecurities. I can count my true “women” friendships on one hand. There may not be many, but they are treasured.

  75. “no one tells you that the shields you carry to keep you safe, they become the the steel cages that keep you alone. ”
    It amazes me how I can feel like I’ve been open to friendship but then have truth show me where the bars still stand between myself and everyone else. Loving is a slow dance with Grace on bruised toes. Just remembering that the tender bits are simply shadows in the warm glow of open arms. The Arms are always open to me. In real life, real friends, even with their own cages and contraptions of separation, don’t see me and wish for someone else. They have sat in their cage and longed for me to write an email, or make the phone call first. So I will slip off my shoes and dance…..

  76. I’m still grieving hurts over a year old. I haven’t felt this way since middle school. I am reluctant to expose my heart again. In a time where “authenticity” is the popular word, I find many people uncomfortable and unable to handle the true emotions in a heart.

  77. “You breathe different in a room when you know it’s not about the good you can accomplish but about the grace you can accept……
    Because really — in a refuge of grace, who has anything to prove or protect?…….
    When we breathe in grace, we finally believe we can be real – and only then can we begin to be changed into the realest versions of Holy Grace Himself.

    It’s in a sanctuary of grace, relationships near extinction can revive. ”

    I weep as I read these words, and I long for that friendship again…it has been quite a few years since I lost my last best friend and I have carried many shields since. Church is a minefield to me, too. I just got brave enough to ask someone I really like to be with if she would meet with me…she could do monthly and we haven’t found time yet…partly me. Now that she said yes, I am so scared. But I LONG for this friendship/sanctuary of grace….and to be that kind of person because I have nothing to prove or hide. My relationship with God is good but I am lonely for women friends.

  78. To be able to be real and find authentic community among women is a rare gift. Few are the women who own their own brokenness and accept yours. Many are the women who hide their brokenness by criticizing others and highlighting yours. Thank you for sharing openly something that I believe all women struggle with in one way or another.

  79. I’ve always thought that I didn’t offer much to friendship, that once people entered into relationship with me, they would quickly find that I was boring or said lame things. Growing up with a brother who offered such light and wit was a challenge- I couldn’t compare so I would just be the “quiet” one. It wasn’t safe to interject much because he could have said it better. This went with me through school and continues to this day. I’m intimidated by other lively, creative women who I can’t hold a candle to. I fight daily to convince myself that I have something to offer, even in the most mundane of situations (a quick interaction at the grocery store or meeting someone new at church). It’s all fear that I pray daily God will cast out, that I can finally just be who I am without being afraid of failing at that.
    I’m so grateful for this post and a forum to share and be encouraged! It’s such a blessing to know we’re not alone!

  80. ANN-

    I do believe all of us have been wounded one time or another… but for me that just means I took the risk, and in the being broken, GOD picked up my pieces and mended me, and made me stronger. When HE is in the middle of these friendships and honored and given the glory… untimately HE blesses them! Thanks for this post… I am presently doing a series on Friendships and what do they mean in our lives. YOUR insight as always is deep, and points to HIS grace… and it’s all about HIS grace isn’t it?

  81. Oh, how I wish the Lord would snap his fingers and heal this wound in my heart. At the same time, I’m so grateful He is taking His time about it because I know He is forming my character and using me in the lives of others as part of His wonderful tapestry.

  82. I am just learning about love after a soveriegn healing healing of my emotions which took place 16th July 2010. I have Aspergers Syndrome, diagnosed age 38,
    but have been a friend of Jesus since age 13. I too have shut people out because I was afraid of what they would do or say, because I experienced alot of unkindness in school and at home, then in the workplace. But I know Jesus love and I know I will find close friendship in the days ahead. Please pray for me. I am not scared of women,niether am I scared of men, but I don’t know how to relate to men.

  83. Oh, Ann, you touched my heart with this one. I too have suffered the hurts of other women. Several of my “friends” disappeared after my injury. Intellectually I know that some people just can’t handle serious illness, but it still hurts.

    Thank you for opening your heart up. I’ll be honest, I’d always viewed you as “unapproachable”, so up there, and for you to show your vulnerability, well, I feel as though I just “met” you.

    And just so you know, I’m virtually crying on your shoulder, as you remind me of the sanctuary of grace.

  84. this post touched my heart because it is a daily conversation between my best friend and i. both of us have difficult, scarred pasts that left us with what feels like permanent defense wounds and old battle scars. God provided her to me and she is the first person in my 35 years of living that i have been truly able to be myself around, be real, be godly, honest, and praise Him. We do it together daily. But, oh, the other moms at school! Oh how they have a way, of making those old wounds ache again, how she and i feel “less than” and unable to be our fabulous selves around these other women! Simply women, like she and I. Why do we cast our own shadows instead of letting Him light our way?

  85. I really like your blog. While I agree that sometimes any of us can stand up and be a good friend, the reality is that women tend to come and go and they can be gracious one moment then completely heartless the next. And yes I am speaking of Christian women. I think that one needs to be very careful about guarding their heart-we are told to do that in the Scriptures.

  86. oh, this cuts so deep. i have known nothing but woundedness in relationships with women my whole life. my mother has always been, and continues to be, my biggest critic. she is so nice to everybody else, but has nothing but venom for me. about 9 years ago, i met a woman who became my best friend. we shared it all, i have never been closer to anybody and thought this wound was finally healing. 2 years ago she cut me off, no explanation. i have reached out to her to find out what i did, why she no longer wants to be friends, and she will not tell me. i am beyond crushed and wonder if i could ever trust myself to be a friend (since i don’t know what i did), and i wonder if i could ever trust another woman again to let them that close to me.

    • sometimes, and I know because I have lived your story, you have to chalk it up to mental illness when you know it is not you. for your mother, google “personality disorders” for a start. you may learn something. then set boundaries.
      for your ex- friend…. let her go. you can find another true friend in time.
      may God bless you.

  87. I remember the first attack at age five. Kindergarten. It never stopped until I left the school I attended six years later. Today, 31 years later I second guess every action & word of those women (& others) close to me. I hold at arms length. In as much as I’ve grown over the past few decades, I always fear that people are just humoring me. I don’t share my past because I fear losing the close friends I have.

  88. Wow, is this ever a timely post. Last night, my husband though weary from a day of hard labor in the rain and knowing he had to do it again early this morning stayed up late with me hearing my heart on this very issue. I was mourning Sara’s going, knowing that it means one of my precious few connections is gone. I don’t know why friendship has always been hard with girls, with women.

    Last October at a women’s retreat, I really thought I’d broken through some huge barriers as I danced and worshipped and talked and shared – all things I would never do in public before. And I left feeling like I finally had a home here and that my friendships with three particular women were the best friendships I’d always longed for. But everything changed in December when one of them lost a husband in a tragic accident. I stepped up to help knowing that I’m gifted and capable at what would be needed and some leaders put me in a place of leadership to coordinate things to help this family. But I wasn’t accepted by those who had known the family longer, and before I knew it, I was out of that little group and one of the women became a very unsafe person. And because she was so close with the other two, there was suddenly no place for me anywhere. I was the new comer to the group and no one knew my gifts or what I have to offer from my old life.

    I am still reeling from that, trying to figure out how to reach out to them, how to repair and rebuild those friendships. But there is an innocence and a trust gone, and I’ve lost all confidence.

    You are right, in order to have safety the cost is being solitary. And I was not created to be solitary all day long. How one who has repeatedly been wounded in friendships with girls who becomes an adult who also gets wounded in friendships with women can continue to reach out is beyond my understanding at this present moment. This present moment just feels hurtful and confusing, and the only thing I know to do is run to Jesus and ask Him to show me what to do and how to be.

  89. I have been hurt by women. My husband is a pastor and that has made it all the more difficult. In my fishbowl of a life, I have felt observed and when I was deeply wounded, and it having gone on for almost a year, church was no longer safe. Being watched in my woundedness is draining, fearful, and so empty of grace. I sought Christian counseling and have forgiven, have understanding, and am moving forward. Church is home again. Grace is available–mostly because I am giving and now again receiving.

  90. Maybe it all boils down to genetics. I see it in one child but not the other. The other one is so confident and doesn’t seem to mind anything. The first comes home upset that his first grade class laughed at him when it was his turn. He says they didn’t laugh at anyone else. What can I tell him when mom feels the same way too? In my younger years it was being the small one. In first grade no one would choose me to be on their team because I was too small. I didn’t help for this to be reinforced by the teacher’s aide who didn’t mean any harm that teased me and called me “shrimp”. Nor did it help when a new teacher pulled me from the playground because I didn’t appear to be in that grade. In junior high the grumpy gym teacher told me I was too small. I didn’t even try sports because of that. I’m not small anymore, but the insecurities exist. My best friend from preschool to high school didn’t want to be my friend anymore when her boyfriend decided he didn’t want us to be friends. I had to find a new friend and did. Luckily she is still my friend to this day but long-distance is hard. Twenty years at the same job, people come and go, people betray you and you go on. But the shield is up. And yes, I live in a cage. I don’t invite people over and we don’t have play dates. My children’s guest list for birthday parties is limited to close family only. I avoid class reunions. I avoid gatherings with people from high school. I don’t want to be judged and it’s the only way I know to avoid it. It’s much easier to believe that you really are too busy to attend anything. I have had friends and have been burnt every time I let someone into my life. Judgement and criticism beat me down. Even my own siblings know just what to say, after all, they grew up in the same house with me and they know my weak points. I deal with critical co-workers and am always on the defensive. I shouldn’t have to constantly defend myself. However, when people know you are an easy target, they don’t stop. What ever happened to doing everything in love? Why can’t people bring you up instead of constantly bringing you down? I’ve never been one to tear down and I try my best to walk in love everyday and be supportive and non-critical. I have started saying my prayers for friends, true ones. I am so weary of being the only Christian in “my world”. Where are the rest? Online? It’s the only place I can see them. It’s hard to even be a witness when no one knows what you are talking about or looks at you like you are a crazy Jesus freak if you speak His name. Are you guys online the only ones living like me? Every moment for God and Jesus. I talk to Him all day long. He is the only one who helps me through. My strength to live is in Him. He will answer my prayers but waiting is SO HARD!

      • Ann,
        Thank you so much for your response. I, like many others I’m sure, wait to read your posts every day. You are such a blessing to us all! Your courage to talk about your feelings, insecurities, and even your mistakes bless so much. There are days when I’ve said my prayers for God to lead my way and then I read your post and it’s exactly what I needed. God is using you in such a tremendous way!

  91. It is such a shame that our “Sisterhood” can be such a curse… and such a blessing!!!! Even though we are the “weaker” sex…we have the power and strength to kill with our words! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we as women did not abuse this ability and used it as God intended…to love and comfort, to heal and give hope, to encourage and build up…to nurture as only a woman can.

  92. I’ve been hurt in more ways than I want to recount here. I know that God wants me to fellowship with other women, so I haven’t given up. I’m learning to be a friend by just staying – when it gets uncomfortable for me, I pray and give God my urge to run. I just stay. The discomfort passes as we move on to new seasons in relationships. As for making friends IRL, I’m just reaching out to those whom I have found near me. Going to meet a fellow blogger next week – in real like – for the first time. We’ll see how it goes.

  93. As women, I can see that we hurt others out of the depths of our own woundedness. I have hurt and been stung by the need to make sense of difficulties in my own life and the awful pitfall of comparing my own frail efforts to what looks like, from afar, all loveliness and perfection. The other side of the coin is being the target of someone else who looks at me and says, “how do you do it?” thus, fueling that disordered desire for human respect and working harder to achieve what I think other see in or expect from me. I am wondering if so much need for human respect can come from an even temperament that turns in to being “the sweet one.” ? So much to live up to. Human respect……a horizontal orientation in a world that needs so much to look up and lift each other up,too. I am grateful for the gift of Reconcilaition. HE allows these hurts to break our hearts of stone.

  94. Yes, I have been wounded plenty by women. But sadly, I also know that I have been the wound as well.

    I made late night laments to the one who forgives, asking Him to bring she and I, the one that I’ve hurt together again so that I might say, “I am sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me.”

    God did. I was able to say those words through text and she was able to say back through text, “I forgive you.”

    That wasn’t how I wanted it to be, but it was what was given.

    We’ve not talked since and my heart aches for the road that I once traveled.

  95. My best friend has been teaching me how to be a friend. She coaxes me out of my introvertedness, encourages me to share my gifts, helps me let people in. I’ve been hurt enough to make it really hard for people to get to know me, and her patience over the last 10ish years has shown me that some people really do stick around…through all the mess.

  96. i’ve just found you today, although strangely it seems like maybe i’ve found you before and just never took the time to look, to really look at you. it’s like i rushed by without so much more than just a quick glance and now today, today i linger, because your words have touched me. they stopped me. they made me cry. i feel the honesty in your words. the compassion. the caring. the fragrance of God. and i am thankful-so thankful-that i stopped to pause today, to take a second look, to turn around and listen. in the million distractions of life, you came into mine, and i am forever thankful for this very moment in time.

  97. Hello,

    The ones we bring closest hurt us most, then we shut everyone off, only to realise later in life how much we needed the experience of sisterhood!
    The hurts, the joys, the giggles and the cries.
    The richness of such experience, is great.
    It bares you open, but then it keeps you open enough to benefit of His marvellous grace.
    For each sister He has equipped with grace.
    I wish I walked past the hurts to this experience of sisterhood!

    Much Grace

  98. First time commenter and visitor to this site… just finished reading your book and loved the message opened freshly for me. I’ve been in a season of holding back because of the hurts from close girlfriends. I choose not to give up on those friendships, but they sure to have the power to sting. I suppose we really do have to give permission for those friends to come into our lives with crooked halos because none are perfect… but oh so sweet when times are good. Thank you so much for your words Ann… I suggested your book for my bookclub and we as a group devoured it. I thank God for allowing you to point out what was already there that I had somehow missed. Giving thanks in ALL things really does change everything.


  99. Sweet Ann,

    You are a blessing. Thank you for sharing your heart. Much love from across the miles.

  100. I keep praying that God would show me how to be a friend again. It used to come naturally. But a great loss two years ago left me with so much pain that I just shut myself down to everyone but my family. I have hurt some who wanted to walk through this with me. I’ve cut them off. And I’ve been left with this anxiety in most social situations. I can’t bring myself to pick up the phone. I can’t think of anything to say.

    I want to be brave. I want to convince myself that people will accept the struggles I’m still having and not expect me to be over it. I want to believe that they will be okay with getting to know the new me, because the old one is gone forever. But I don’t even know where to start, and so I hide. I can feel God asking me to take that step of faith. But it feels like the kind of dizzying height that makes you sick.

    Praying for heaps of grace to break out of this isolation.

  101. Wow. So much pain. Like Pandora’s box has been opened and stories crawl out. And we all just want to tell our stories, to be heard. Thank you for unlocking that door and opening it wide enough for us to walk through one at a time.

  102. I lost my husband this year. A friend was there to help/love me through it. I am now wondering if I knew this person at all. She is now in a relationship with a man she has only known a short time and has completely distanced herself from me (and almost everyone else she knows). She has gone so far as to say that I am jealous of what she has. I still consider myself married; I love my husband and can’t even imagine another man in my life. Why would I not want my friend to have the same kind of love and stability that I had? Why can’t she understand the difference between genuine concern and what she perceives as jealousy? I am wondering now if she needed me more than I needed her; yes, I was vulnerable and in a bad place, but perhaps she needed someone to take care of. My heart is really hurting right now and I feel betrayed.

    • Dearest April…. Oh, I am praying with you right now. ~tears~

      Psalm 55:22 Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders
      he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.

      Thank you, Lord, for carrying April right now. Please carry her load and wrap her in Your love and unwavering friendship. Oh Lord, thank you for comforting April and never letting her go. In the name of our Lord Jesus… Amen.

      Praying with you, beautiful April…

  103. Most of my own trouble comes from desiring the approval of the women around me rather than desiring God above all.

    When I am focused on doing whatever is necessary to protect myself or to win the affections of others, I am unable to give or receive godly friendship.

    Yet. When I want God more than I want people to like me — that is when I find the courage to love honestly, vulnerably, unconditionally.

  104. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, echoed throughout this discussion thread, my (questionable) desire for a ‘group of sisters,’ to be real and honest with, to be ‘on the inside’ with–especially if you grew up feeling on the ‘outside.’

    But are we willing to do what’s required of us, to be ‘in the club’? To ultimately exclude, as there becomes simply not enough room for another to join the clique? To constantly be aware of the others in the group (3 of the 5 can’t meet for coffee–you must invite everyone or give an explanation). To become dependent on their love and feedback in so many facets of life?

    Is this a universal need, or an age-old temptation?

    Perhaps someone could refer me to a biblical reference of a close group of several women that worked well, without the typical consequences on their marriages, families, and faith. This would be the model to follow.

  105. Ann, as always, your words touch the deep places. I don’t know that I carry hurt so much as fear. Fear of judgment and rejection. Judgment because I work outside the home or I don’t measure up or I don’t do this or I do that. Fear I won’t be accepted for me. I don’t want to perform. I want to be true. I don’t want to be superficial. I want to be deep. Look them in the eyes, lean in. Really know them and their heart. And have them feel the same. I feel so much “safer” in places like this than in person. Perhaps the fear comes from hurt. Long past hurts that I haven’t let Him heal.

  106. You speak my heart. How much more will I push away those that God designed to directly flow His grace into this fractured heart of mine? Never truly hurt by women myself but fearful of what they MAY do or MAY think. Amazed that I have lived across the world and allowed strangers in but somehow now afraid of my neighbors here in my homeland. Learning He meant us for fellowship and communion not isolation and disconnect and pushing myself to trust Him enough to venture out. Thank you for courage for today to keep believing He meant me for more than being alone and afraid.

  107. What about those of us who do want these deeper friendships with other women, and can’t find them? Those of us who reach out,. but are constantly told that the other is “too busy” with all the other things to do, places to go? I was in a women’s Bible study group for a couple of years where we seemed to form some real bonds of trust and openness, yet somehow it fell apart, many of the women being, yes, “too busy” to continue…and there went those “bonds” as once again, no one could make time for others. Why on earth are so many women “too busy” for friendships?

  108. Ann, this post is so timely for me! I’ve been thinking in just the last few days about how tenaciously I defend my desire for solitude with the excuse that I am an introvert. I guess I am an introvert but not to the extent that I claim it. I have come to realize over the last while that in use that label as a barrier against putting myself in a position where I could be hurt. It is easier to just be alone, keep my social circle small, mostly family, people who are supposed to love me regardless. And yes, like so many others I can pin the beginning of this struggle on grade school girls and their cliques. I became so accustomed to being kept on the outside that somewhere along the line I seem to have grown to accept and even expect to be on the outside of things. Even when others seem interested in striking up a friendship I keep them at a distance. Often it doesn’t even occur to me that they would consider me worthy of friendship. I assume they are just being nice because they have to.
    Lately, though, I am starting to realize just how I still hunger to belong and how isolated I feel here…on the outside.
    Thanks for this post.

  109. Thank you for this post, and for everyone who has shared their stories. I too, have been wary of friendships with women, and have found it much easier to have friendships with men–I have a lot of male relatives, and think this is part of it. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve also learned to accept that I may not be the type of person who is comfortable with big groups of women, ever–my friendships tend to be more one on one.

    So I’m ok. But does anyone have suggestions for they’ve helped their daughters who are going through this? One of my girls has such a rough time–she’s not being bullied, she just gets. . .left out. Left out of parties, left out when picking partners, or planning playdates. She’s old enough, and sensitive enough, to see what’s happening, but not old enough to not feel hurt. I know that at some time in her life, she’ll find “her people”–but how does a mom ease a child’s loneliness in-between times?

  110. mmm, mmm, mmm! good thoughts to mull over! I feel the challenge everyday, whether I will befriend or wait to be the befriended. waiting is never a good option, it turns you bitter and nasty on the inside, wondering what is wrong with you, wondering what is wrong with them that they don’t notice you. disappointment when they don’t befriend you back or anxiety when relationships become strained – difficult emotions to handle in the moment but so worth the effort when going through deeper waters together. those times strengthen your bond and true friendships rise to the top. so, so, so blessed with those in my life who love me for me, without the mask, with full disclosure, and open authenticity. those are the ones I know and respect as real, human. and less those who keep up the plastic, criticizing others while surrounding themselves with illusions.

    thanks for your words, ann!

  111. I should perhaps have mentioned that my husband, with whom I had a strained relationship for many years, died several years ago. Since then, I have particularly felt like the “odd one out.” I hear about friends having get-togethers as couples, or even larger groups, but I am never included…perhaps because my singleness as a middle-aged Christian woman makes others feel awkward? People tell me that (for whatever reason) they admire or respect me–could it be that they think I’m so self-sufficient that I would have no need for deeper friendships, more inclusion? And yet, I will come right out and tell them that, to no avail. It’s one thing to admit that we “shield” ourselves and thereby prevent the relationships for which we long; but it’s another to take that step out on a limb, to open up and reveal that need, only to be ignored.

  112. What a wonderful post! I struggle in this area so much – letting other women into my life, and I mean ‘really’ into my life. My whole life I was verbally and emotionally abused by my mother. I suppose you can say it tainted my relationships with other women, even those who are sisters in Christ. I have a real hard time trusting – I only share what won’t bother me should they gossip. My mother made my private life very public when I attempted to share some deep personal things with her, in an attempt to get close to her. It backfired!

    She has not been in my life now for 11 years and, sadly, she never will be because she thinks that she can treat me however she wants because I am her daughter. I couldn’t take the berating, the belittlement, the humiliations and false guilt and false shame. I always knew how she treated me was wrong – it was 11 years ago that I was finally able to put a finger on it. Over a year ago, I finally mustered up the courage, to risk total rejection by my family, to tell them how abusive she was to me. I was rejected. No one believed me.

    I felt so alone for a whole decade before I started searching online. I thought I was the only one with such a mother. I found a forum where other hurting and broken women had mothers just like mine! Suddenly I felt not alone, I felt validated. It is this online group of women who gave me strength and courage, who gave me back a sense of self worth (them and a great therapist). Many scoff at how online friendships can actually be friendships – but mine are. I don’t know where I would be without them. And to top it off, all the women I’ve made friends with are all believers in Christ … I count myself truly blessed by them – and because of them, I hope I can also be a blessing of hope to hurting women.

  113. truthfully, this is an overwhelming question, and one i shy away from. i have been hurt too much to tell, and in more ways than i want to really think about and write down. these experiences are things that i want to keep in the past, under the blood, and in the category of “when i was too young to know any better”.

    BUT, because i want to do what the writing calls out to me to do–in the deepest parts of my heart–i am writing about it here. women compete too much, they are intimidated and afraid of one another, and they judge one another–i suppose so much of this comes from the fact that we are emotional beings. and it is all the worse when it is someone very close, like a mother or sister–especially when this person does it over and over and over in your daily life–i think Jesus knew this, and thats why He asked us to forgive seventy times seven.

    i no longer wish to concentrate on how ive been hurt–instead, i choose to see my own failings and sin, and i choose Christ’s mercy and grace–and the same way that i have been forgiven, i choose to forgive and to pour grace onto others. there is no joy in remembering and keeping a record of wrongs, and blaming my bitter, martyr attitude today on the ones who hurt me ages ago–even if it was only yesterday .

    there is healing in writing about my deepest fears and struggles, in God’s word, in listening to my children and laughing with them, in allowing my husband to love me and protect me in ways that sometimes i dont understand, but i know that God’s wisdom is in all these things…

    and i agree with some of the other commenters–i help others heal and become a better friend by staying, by not running away when its hard, by not managing and manipulating my relationships so that im the center and liked, by not expecting much of them, by just accepting the individual and the friendship for what it is–allowing time to unfurl the heart and God to seal the bond, by not keeping a record of their wrongs, by loving them so passionately that they dont have to wonder if they have my forgiveness or approval, and by reaching out even when it makes no logical sense, and it feels like rust in the joints–hard and immoveable.

    thanking you, and God, for this post today, Ann. blessings.


  114. I am honestly at a loss for words. I only have one close friendship. There have been so many friendships that have ended and I don’t know why. My best friend got divorced 5 years ago. The friend I grew up with. Spent night upon night with. Told everything to and listened to. After that everything changed. We don’t even talk and I cry each time I see her kids or drive past her house. I’ve invited her over, sent texts and cards, and gifts. Nothing. Another friend shared her troubles about getting pregnant. I listened to her cry into the phone at all hours for months. Shared her joy in finding out prayers had been answered. Walked through pregnancy with her. Kissed her sweet belly. Went to see her at the hospital and prepared a meal for her. The day I took it over I cleaned her house, then went spent months texting and calling to no answer. She’s texted a few times since, never apologized. I haven’t even seen her baby. Another friends husband worked nights on the weekends and would often call and talk into the night so she wasn’t lonely. Her husband found a job as a pastor, they moved and our chats rarely happen anymore. My husband is now working 12 hour days, 5 days a week. And went to dinner after with buddies from work and a female employee he talks about often. I have asked this friend for encouragemtn and prayers. I’ve recieved very little. A girl I became friends with had her baby just weeks after mine and shared all that first year with eventually stopped calling too. After I made her daughters cake and spent the entire day helping her get ready for the party. She returned my things and thanked me. My children became sick and one was put in the hospital. After inviting us to a few playdates during that time, which we declined because of sickness and exhaustion, she stopped calling as well. I stay at home with my two children. My phone rarely rings. We have lived in the same community for over 16 years. We have gone to the same church for over a year and the one before we were at the rest of those 16 years. I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

  115. I never had a problem with friendships until I became a stay at home mom and now one who teaches her children at home. Too often, I am counting the number of times I have reached out to make friends but so many close up in their steel cages and it leaves me quite wounded. Asking the questions of the enemy, what is wrong with me? Why has this become so hard when it was like breathing before? Then, vowing not to take another step, but then the Spirit whispers to me, “what is the alternative? and that is not how I formed you, dear daughter.” I rise up from the ash heap and find a bit of a diamond forming in my heart, because I am His treasure. thank you for bringing this out in the open.

  116. Thank you Ann. Your honesty and wisdom continually lift me up and back to God. The last few years have been filled with trials and I have reached out to a few women; my mom, sister and one or two friends. But it is hard to be real, for fear of being thought of as weak. I’m just starting in a new church and a small Bible study. A couple of women have been open. I want to, but am scared of revealing my struggles. I continue to pray for courage and hope that I will, soon, be able to share myself with them.

  117. Wounded..has thou scars? Yes. It matters not the how of it(b/cI do not want to blurt it out here), but what I do with it..
    I used to stuff my face. Jesus set me free from that bondage…now I ache with loneliness.
    Oh it aches deep…can I really get back the friendship, the family that I once had??
    I cannot answer it…I can trust in His character and what HE can do…
    He can heal, He can open up communication again, He can, He can, He can..
    Ann dear, you have something rich, something precious, something rare–
    Jesus Himself traces the scar with His fingers–He knows the pain and the throbbing of my soul..
    I am thankful for your post today..somehow, it massages hope on my wounds.
    He is faithful

  118. I have tried…really tried.
    I wanted friends, so I worked on being a friend.
    Along the way, I discovered that I love giving.
    Not that I have great abundance, but I can give my God-given talents and time to meet needs. I can be real with others because what I have to give is more of personal cost than of monetary cost. It’s what I love to do. It’s part of who I am.
    But it didn’t make friends to be the real me. It made me strange. And women in my life have told me that no one wants to be my friend…that it’s creepy the way I remember to send a note or pray about needs…that I’m a bother…that I’m just not very important compared to the other people in their lives…and I have learned to stop myself before I annoy others with my impulses to share.
    I’ll go back to that cage of self-protection…it’s the only protection I have.

  119. For years I struggled with same sex attraction. Married, with children, I just tried praying it away. Then, in the heat of the struggle, I gave up and gave in. I actually believed I would be “safer” with a woman. It was all a big deception. I was hurt just as much – if not more – with a woman than all the men in my life combined.

    But – amazing grace – it has only been within the community of Godly, patient women that I’ve healed and become whole again. My relationship with God, with my husband, and with my children has never been better. Not easier, just, better.

    Thank you for your post. I am living proof of the wounded healed.

  120. I used to have closed doors too! When people would knock on the door to overwhelm me with favor, I felt awkward, unbelieving. I would retract and even repel it. I have long been honest about what I am like and willing to share my life.

    But I wasn’t an intentional friend, just an accidental friend with people who were easy to like, the naturally drawn… But God has flung open the door and I am actively on a search to know and be known by woman. I now look for community with the intention to be a blessing v/s just receiving one. Not b/c I believe I am all that and a bag of chips but b/c I believe the synergy makes room for healing, identifying, caring, consoling, and cultivating love; Unity in Christ.

    I am home bound and without energy so my community often comes from online sources. I feel God has asked me to be transparent. It takes that to be a friend. It can be inconvenient, a sacrifice made to God… To be friendly, a friend must find himself friendly.

    Sometimes I weary at doing well b/c not many are willing to participate in the process of learning to be a friend. But for those who are willing it is so refreshing!

    Friends are not just made but cultivated. We must not weary in well doing. Something I have noticed is when you keep reaching out, planting seeds, showing love, some will reciprocate…We have to remember everyone has to learn how to be a good friend. Are we willing to reach out and even possibly be hurt to be a guinea pig for the good of someone else?!
    And is it worth it? YES!

    Thank you ANN, your life given has meant so much to all of us.
    It is a Joy to share “CHRIST IN YOU” with others!

  121. 142 comments – wow. I wonder who reads these; if someone will read my comment? I so resonate with Ann’s entry – I was picked on and bullied horribly in school. I can still see their faces and even remember most of their names; seemingly indelible, right? Marks that only God can grace erase. I have to smile as I write this because as I was reading, I kept thinking the entry sounded like Ann, not just like her story, but I could hear her voice. It wasn’t until I got to the bottom that I realized it WAS Ann. I love that – that we can learn to know each other’s voices even when we may never have heard each other speak.

    I have been receiving these emails for a short time and Ann’s for even longer. I guess that is why I recognized her. I want to say that I long to be a part of this community. Can someone respond to me and {in}courage me on how to start my own blog. I need a place where I can be myself and pour out all that I struggle with.

    I would really appreciate it.

  122. I have had the blessing of a true and devoted friend for 17 years. Now, suddenly, she is moving far away, and I found myself feeling hurt and abandoned. Yesterday, it was confirmed that yes she is going and going because the Lord is telling her to go. She is going in 6 months and I can either be angry and difficult, or I can ask God to give me the grace to help her get ready to move and send her off. I chose to spend the next 6 months being her friend and doing whatever that means. The hurt part will still be there, but I can choose to do what the Lord would have me do and be what He wants me to be for her. Besides, she’s not going away to hurt me, she is going for Him, and who can compete with that? Nobody should and though my teary eyes want to try, my heart for Him knows I can. Pray for me anyone who will. I’m going to need it. Thanks Ann for today’s post.

  123. God has given me a very forgiving heart for which I am grateful….I’ve needed this
    often in my life so full of pain”full” things. loss of a husband, loss of a precious
    14 yr old daughter, Lacey, loss of our son Matthew just 8 mos ago….yes I forgive
    God for what has happened, HE is my LOVE and LIFE, He carries me everyday
    and takes the great sadness and fills me with gifts to thank him for, by the way Ann I”m on #675 now and cannot thank you enough for your book, When I finished reading it, I did a new thing for me, went right back and started reading it again..
    much love JeannetteYvonne

  124. Beautiful post! I often put up walls to keep friends out. I don’t think I a good reason and crave more friendship. Something to work on.

  125. I feel like I take one step forward and two steps back when it comes friendships with women. I hate the competition I find at work, as a parent, and even at church. So much of life’s joy is stolen by the need for attention. Our priorities are pulled out of focus on God, our families, and fulfilling God’s will for our lives when we get caught up in unnecessary drama. I am in a season of trying to trust people more and spiritual growth after a few years of stepping back from even the chance of being hurt. This group has helped me to try again

  126. “that lavishes patient grace on an old ache…”

    I love that, and will write it in my little spiral notecards to read and reread.
    Thanks again, Ann, for your lovely, piercing words.

  127. Rejection runs deep. Feelings of loneliness and discouragement come. I need to know that whatever I bring to the table of friendship, it will be welcome. I may not be like you. My clothes may be different, my hair a mess, yet I bring with me my life, full of color to share. I have thoughts and feelings that may shed light on your situation. I could grow and let go if you’d share your heart with me.
    I must re-enter community and begin to trust. We are not perfect and I cannot let my fear keep me from experiencing the gift from God that friendship can be.
    I think the Lord has reminded me of His unwavering faithfulness, even if my friendships aren’t what I want them to be. He alone is the perfect friend.
    May God give us His eyes to see others the way He does. To be vessels of healing waters to women around us.

  128. What a beautiful post, and a needed reminder for me. I am wired to love freely and to give of my affection very readily, and I got hurt because of it just a couple of years ago. It has been a long healing process (when is it not when you are hurt by people you were sure you could trust?), but God is revealing to me that his grace is sufficient, not just for me to move on and be ok, but perhaps it is sufficient for me to enter back into scary friendships and unclear waters and just give grace. What kind of ambassador for him can I be if I cannot do this? Thank you for writing this. I cannot help but be reminded by the deep riches there are if one is willing to brave the scary territory of friendships and enter deep into bonds with sisters in Christ– I long to do that again. Thanks again for reminding me.

  129. I feel as though I have always been on the inside of a window looking in. From a child I have yearned for the relationships that draw women together yet always feel I am on the outside. Then, when I dared open up and form a bond close enough to hurt me, I have been hurt: by competitiveness and jealousy. All I have ever wanted was to be close. Yet, in this relationship where my guard is finally down, I am finding grace. For it is worth getting hurt and worth working on this relationship because I so love the other woman and know she loves me. Maybe, there is no relationship that does not require grace?

  130. This is my first comment here. Thank you for your precious writing what a gift you are to us all. I have been blessed to be able to make friends easily. I still have a good friends from when I was five years old and High School too.  My husband, kids and I have moved countries a number of times for Christian Ministry and I have been blessed beyond measure with open hearts of friendships of Godly women. I have also been a little disappointed by women who I thought were friends but were mean, nasty or gossiped but those hurts for me are easily healed. The one heart I have always longed to have love me is my mother. The rejection of my mother has been hard but it has also been the most valuable gift I could have ever have received. I hold no bitterness only grace for my mum. We all could do with grace. I was born and my dear mum had a stroke. And was given to a lady down the road to raise for six weeks until mum recovered. The doctors told mum I would always be deformed with a hunch back & twisted ears.  Although my mum had longed for a baby girl, it was my older sister she wanted. Sadly my sister had died at birth and I was a poor substitute with red hair. BUT God never rejected me and He loves me perfectly. Jesus saved me. Jesus also saved me from myself, my teen years and twenty’s is where I made many poor decisions and where God showed me His great love. When it comes to friendships with woman, no hurt could be greater than a mothers rejection. Older Christian woman have been beautiful mentors in my life and younger woman have been like sisters.  You may not want or have time for anymore more friends BUT someone may need you as their friend. I would like to say a big thank you for the kindness of strangers who through the years have open their hearts to become friends for the rejected, unloved and lonely. 1pastorswife.wordpress com

  131. i’m with Shannon – i’ve been hurt and i’ve been the hurter. i’ve been the person in the awkward position of never feeling quite comfortable being the hurter but not having the courage to speak up. i’ve been the person that knows i am just a bad hair day away from being on the outside looking in.

    women are such funny creatures … and oh so insecure. Beth Moore’s So Long Insecurity was eye-opening for me. i am finding grace but it is so difficult when not everyone feels it or is stuck in their own insecurity. sometimes being alone is more peaceful!

    you have a wonderful group here, it actually makes me tear up at times – i so wish i had a group of people in real life that i could get together with.

    i will be reading and more involved just to get the spirit and grace i crave – both to receive and to give.

    Sunshine and Smiles,


  132. The wounding happened at the hands of my mother. Physical, psychological and emotional scars that have lasted a lifetime. The kicker for me is that she is the “model” church going Christian. Teaching Sunday School, singing the loudest, out-performing the best Pharisee. Harsh words come easily for me toward this woman who was suppose to teach me about love. How to receive it and how to give it. I’ve had a difficult time finding resources for those of us who have experienced abuse as children in the context of a “Christian” home. But God is good and His will for my life is to know Him. Who He is and who I am to Him. I have been blessed with the friendships of several beautiful, loving women who have helped me learn and grow in His grace. It is hard, truly hard, to trust. But there has been healing and joy as I am learning to trust in Him. I am grateful beyond measure.

    • Hi Kathianne, My mum is a church goer too. It is hard to get your head around a Christian causing such pain. But then we all can fail at times. Praise God for His love, grace & mercy. Big Hugs & Blessings from me to you today – Sarah

  133. I’m constantly worried about what women and girls will say about me. I minister to young women, and in their hurt the attempt to hurt me. I’m still looking for women in RL that I can have healing relationships with.

  134. Ann, I’m lifting you gently, so very gently to our heavenly Father’s arms as you grieve the loss of your sweet Sara. For friendships of the heart carry the grace of God’s touch. ((((Ann))))

  135. I’ve never shared my responses to any of these awesome Ann Voscamp posts that have moved and encouraged me so deeply, but I really want to share this moment with all of you tonight. In my ill-fitting cast-offs and bare-naked scramble for acceptance, I was an easy target for girls (and women teachers!) throughout my school career. As I have moved from nursing the wounds from these shark-fests to praying, in earnest, for the women who wounded me…..praying prayers I would hope someone could pray for me — for hope and relationships and nearness to God and joy…prayers for grace and not for justice, the open spaces between cords stretched tight in the healing let through new light. At the endpoint of each shaft was a moment, a vision of myself, really, that I had never seen before. As I forgave each of the women in my life, I — for the first time ever — had my attention drawn to a moment in which I (I!!!!) hurt someone in the same way and needed the grace — desparately — that I was so reluctant to extend. Many of your thoughts resonated with Ann’s insightful observation that our shields become cages. What I didn’t realize was that, more than a cage, the shrouds we hide beneath are prickled, and the barbs HARM those around us. The moments caught in the glare of my newly opened eyes were (shamefully) inconsequential to my mind until the new light hit them. They were moments “in passing,” unkindnesses against people on the periphery of my world, gigged by the sharp edges of my indifference toward them as I scurried to hide from those who would hurt me. Skewered and stabbed by the thorny remarks I used to move myself closer to the outskirts of belonging and out of the cold oblivion in which I saw myself. I SAW myself….but never was. My pity for myself was pride’s ugliest underbelly, and when I saw how I justified — and then forgot — small acts of indignity to people whose names I can’t remember or never knew or didn’t care enough to remember, I realized that I (I!) was someone’s injuring woman. Someone’s post on this very board might be about me — and I wouldn’t know it because I was swaddling myself in steel, cutting and cold. We have no right not to love. Those who’ve hurt us worst were knit together by His very own hands (hands scarred….by our steel). He calls them, “my beloved.” They are His babies and His bride. His last prayer to the Father was a plea for oneness. It’s humbling and inspiring to think that I can participate in answering His prayer, but I can. Each injury is a blessed opportunity to show the grace that He extends to me so freely every day, to help answer His prayer in the garden that we should be one. I want that! And in seeking it, I continue to learn how deeply into the fabric of my myopic memory the hurt (that I had PERPETRATED as well as endured) has been woven, and how impossible it is to unravel that hurt from the beautiful tapestry that He is patiently making of me.

  136. such beautiful words for today, Ann! 2.5 yrs. now of new church, new faces, too many faces, hard to make new peer connections in mid-life while raising teens…I’ve kinda’ slacked off with connecting, lowered my expectations. Even today as I had to connect and share details with “new” church friend I had invited over for tea months ago I told myself not to expect anything in return this morning. Well, as we ended our conversation and parted ways, she called my name and said, “We should do tea again”. I was pleasantly surprised and “put in my place”. I had short-changed myself…see she was interested…me I was tired of investing with little return, thinking I’m not “good enough” to be her friend and that she doesn’t have time in her life for another friend. Now here she’s basically saying, “Can I come over again?”! What was I thinking?! Am I willing to let this friendship “look” how it is to be and not what I’d expect a friendship to look like?

    A wonderful GOD-GIFT today was when I went to the former work place of my dear friend and mentor, Connie, who graduated to Heaven 2 yrs. ago and there on the shelf I spotted one of her pillows she had made for sale! Just this week, I missedher & cried, “Dear Lord, just to talk to COnnie this week…I wonder what she’d say to me with what I’m going through?” Upon learning I was a friend of Connie’s the shop owner gave me the pillow! We had conversations of remembrance & fondness of our mutual friend…yes, she was remembered most for how she loved others, but mainly how she loved her ABBA FATHER! Oh, I’ve had goosebumps the rest of the day!!! God was so generous to lavish this gift on me during this difficult week, at this time! The pillow is gracing my recently purchased sofa and matches so well…I was waiting to get new decorative pillows and God provided TODAY! I will never forget!

  137. How strange that this very morning I wandered the house with aimless thoughts about my history of friendships with women. And how poorly a friend I had once been. Too scared. Too shy. Too insecure. All of it filtered into each friendship I had–and lost.

    I am grateful for the places God has taken me to heal and to trust in order to do frienships healthier now.

    Thank you for these healing words.

  138. Thank you for the post, Ann. As always, it sparks a space inside of me that deserved some attention. I didn’t have real girlfriends growing up – rather, I was literally followed home by the popular kids, as they threw rocks at me. Sounds cliche, right? Lucky me to have lived it. 🙂 As an adult, I can look back and list an infinite number of blessings and lessons learned from my time growing up as an unpopular, lonely girl. It has made me compassionate (almost to a fault, at times), patient, sensitive, aware, and the list could go on and on.

    It wasn’t until college when I wondered at the thought of having girl-friends. It was a long road to try and figure out how to trust them, or if I even wanted to. Was it worth it? Did EVERY girl-friend walk away when she found a new boyfriend?!?! 🙂 And so, college came and went with a few great friends, but not the life-long friendships I had hoped for. However, I did not give up on what I knew God would provide for me. He chose to wait, and luckily, I chose to continue to seek and be patient.

    Post-college, God provided some life-long girlfriends. They came in the form of roommates, colleagues, and even a karaoke partner or two! But there they were. They would not give up on me. They would not walk away from me. They held on tight when I was pretty sure we should part ways. These are the girls that God provided FOR ME. The ones that HE CHOSE FOR ME! I couldn’t asked to be more blessed by them.

    Three years ago, I physically left those women and moved 1500 miles to be nearer to my family. However, God has provided the time, the energy, and the means for us to continue to be close on a level I never imagined. He keeps us strong. He keeps us steady. We are blessed.

    Just today, I finished reading the book, “The Girls From Ames” (Jeffrey Zaslow) and it was one of the most beautiful, touching books I have ever read about female friendship. Yes, because I am a woman, I compared myself and my friendships, to those written about in the book. However, it brought me to my knees as well – singing praises for the friendships I have, begging for mercy for the friend that I can sometimes forget to be, and asking for eyes wide open to the relationships on the horizon.

    We forget, often, what blessings women can be in our lives. However, I find that when I am forgetting, it is because I am forgetting to live in a state of praise, mercy and with eyes wide open to the blessings He is providing me with.

  139. I knew mean girls like that. Mean girls who’d stand in line with me for confession at school and say, “I guess I’ll have to make something up ’cause I haven’t done anything” while I stood there thinking, “You made fun of me.” From a broken home, feeling broken, unsure of myself, God was my imaginary friend in my back yard – and He comforted me in my solitariness, cocooning me as I gradually unfurled my wings. And he gave me good friends. As I grew into a wife and a mom, the most important thing I learned is to look for those God friends beyond my expectations – beyond who I thought “looked” like a good friend. Looking beyond my expectations to see God’s expectations of those friendships has blessed me – and like your friend Sara, we have nourished each other in Christ’s love. Two of my older friends have crossed over to the other side, one I sat by in the hospital for 2 weeks, at least an hour a day, reading God’s word as she slipped into His hands. Those relationships are a give and take of such love – so unconditional, so supportive. You describe it exactly. You always do!

  140. It’s amazing really – how scars carry stories as unique as our fingerprints and yet there’s so much understanding in these comments – so much empathy and seeing…
    I am challenged to not let my past (as both wounded and wounder) rob me of the present possibility. I’m in a new home, new community, starting from scratch with woman who are strangers that I want to become friends – and I’m scared!!! But I will be the friend I hope to also find.

  141. not so long ago i was carrying the heartache of friendship around with me and in the still and in quiet i hear God say to me “pick me, choose me.” this moment changed my heart. sure, my heart breaks in friendship time and again but the calm reminds me to release and choose God. a daily struggle. even today…especially today.

  142. Dear Ann… without an “e”…
    I have never known anyone like you… who is able to see life from the inside out, upside down, stretched this way and that… but able to carefully reconfigure the pieces again in such a simple and understandable way that you are able to resonate with so many women who may not have had exactly the same experiences you’ve had… but needed to see “grace” in exactly the same way you do. Your words are rich and your thoughts come from an incredible depth… your journey with God through this all… in circumstances you may not have chosen… has not been wasted. In your obedience and faithfulness you have touched so many…. and I am thankful to be brought along as a “friend” on your journey. I read about your many struggles and see a 21st century saint who chooses to examine her life, who chooses to see God’s hand in her circumstances, who chooses to remain faithful, who chooses to turn things inside out for a closer look at God and who understands that our salvation is dynamic…. and therefore, that we are redeemable… on a daily basis. I am a terrible friend and complain that I have no friends… and need to be redeemed from myself. Seeing others as God sees them goes a long way in building relationships, being able to readily forgive as Christ forgives leaves the door open, giving Grace as we have received Grace is a dynamic activity. I am inspired today to allow God’s wonderful, redeeming grace… to chip away at my fears, negative thoughts and habits… that serve no purpose in my life… (like an inflamed appendix)…. and take the step to “be” a better friend. Ann, you are an inspiration. Thanks!

    • Dearest Cynthia…
      Yes — a friend on the journey — *thank you* for the gift of friendship.
      These words: “I am a terrible friend and complain that I have no friends… and need to be redeemed from myself.”
      You are not alone and I am right there learning with you, stepping out, and that imagery of an inflamed appendix? Yes! That! He is a gentle surgeon.
      I give thanks for you right now, Cynthia — how your transparency and thoughtful words minister.
      Pressing in Him with you….
      All’s grace,
      Ann Voskamp

  143. When we post these things here, does anyone read them and see? I wonder. I so admire this community, but reading about it sometimes makes me feel more outside than ever. So grateful you all have found a place where you embrace one another in a loving way without judgment and with healing. So grateful for the real life and cyber relationships you all have fostered. I’m really grateful on your behalf. Not jealous — but rejoicing for you. And, I still wonder what God has for me. I have been wounded by women. SO wounded. I have hidden. I have pretended. I have used every kind of self-reliant defense I could muster to make myself invulnerable and to guard my own heart. I have taken God’s role as my protector and defender and have tried to be strong after feeling so weak and vulnerable. I have had dear friends turn on me in misunderstanding or in favor of other friendships. I have been admired, recommended and sought as a mentor, but not a friend. In all that, and over time, God has taken what was broken and slowly repaired and restored much. Healing comes in seasons and with tears. God has taken a few precious women and allowed me to trust them and they have been steadfast to walk with me in this opening – this re-entry into trust. But, how, here, do I enter into the fellowship of this group? How do I become more than a grateful observer? Maybe I don’t. That is His choice. I am content to see that there is possibility of the kinds of friendship I have wished for and to know that the truest love is mine in Him with or without a “real” connection to all of you.

    • Dearest Patty…

      Thank you. Thank you for being brave and sharing you and your story and who you are with us. All of you have healed me… all the women who share themselves here, in lines and vulnerable words — you are the ones who showed me another, Christ-centered way. *Thank you*…. Thank you for reaching out here. In the woundedness, in the pain, in the re-entry into trust — thank you — for connecting with other women who have shared here and leaving a note to one other sister,offering to pray for her. I am so grateful for you, Patty — and we all so need each other! Thank you for making a “real” connection right here, right now — reaching out my hand and squeezing yours and praying with you, sister. He walks with us….

      • Thanks, Ann,
        I sort-of wondered if this entry I wrote would get lost out in cyberspace. After all it is far down a scroll to see it 🙂 … But, as I wrote, I knew that God who sees (as Hagar called Him) would see me and did see me and truly He is all that matters. I am getting (in that awkward two steps forward, one step back dance) closer to deeply knowing the Truth of His being the only eyes that matter. The walk out of woundedness is so bittersweet. There is a sweetness of connecting to Him in the vulnerable and broken places that I just do not get in any part of my walk with Him in quite the same way. I draw near to Him in ways I just don’t when I am not aching. And, though He doesn’t always meet me where I am with a soft, minky-lined blanket, He does meet me and I am stretched and ultimately unearthed and then I find rest and joy. Not always in the form or timing I would like, but always in the best way because it is His form and His timing. I’m in the place of “It is well with my soul” even though I am doing some deeper grieving. That peace is a gift of having walked with Him long enough and letting Him come into other places in my heart already so that I know He is good and what He does in me is perfect. I can’t tell you what your encouragement and outstretched hand means to me.

    • We hear you Patty. Thank you for sharing your heart here with us – and we’re working to share something of real life community with all the wonderful women who leave testimonies here – some slice of real life girl friends that we help connect them with – that’s our prayer for and I so hope you will join us!

      Warmest wishes

      • Lisa Jo,
        Is different from or a branch of (in)courage? I will check out that link. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my post. I am grateful that you saw me and made me feel less “invisible” and more significant. It makes the connection to (in)courage something more special knowing that you all have heard and responded. It felt so good as I wrote my first post to know in my heart that I have moved more into a place where I didn’t “need” a response from any of the women here. But, that being said, getting your responses was such sweet icing on the cupcake. God saw. That is paramount. You saw and responded. Precious.
        Thank you.

      • Thanks, Dawn.
        I am taking advantage of both of those aspects. I feel spurred to comment on others’ posts sometimes (only been here a short while) and then through you three women (you, Lisa Jo and Ann) I have been ministered to as well. What a gift. Your responses give authenticity to what you share at (in)courage. I hope you are blessed for being a blessing.
        ~ Patty

  144. It seems I can’t keep a friend for very long…I move away; she moves away; life becomes too hard to keep up with each other. I think I’ve found refuge in my sister… but then life hurts that, too. My other sister? Dead too young. A *borrowed sister*? Hurtful words and actions that bruise and batter an already scarred heart. I’m beaten down and can’t try anymore.

  145. I sit here trying to think of the last time I really felt I belonged. I grew up the oldest of 3 children, in a large extended Christian family. Though I never felt like I belonged there. Everyone had a ‘place’. Everyone had something to say. Everyone listened. Except when I spoke. What makes us feel isolated from such a young age?
    This feeling of isolation and inferiority continued on into my teens and early adulthood. I managed as best I could, telling myself I didn’t need to be part of the ‘in crowd’. But what makes me so different from the ones who are on the inside?
    Here I sit, beginning in my forties, and still struggling with this. Why is it that the same people who at times have told me they love to talk with me, at other times treat me as if I have the plague or something. I have grown to see this treatment as the norm for me, once again telling myself I don’t want to part of their ‘fakeness’, but in reality, it does hurt. I watch as others are seemingly lavished upon with acceptance, love and clinging to every word they mutter. Again, what makes me so different? What is my purpose? Why can’t I seem to have any feeling of love, acceptance or interest? (If I am the only one around, yes I do get SOME attention, but once others are in the room, I am completely forgotten)
    I have poured myself into my husband and three children. I am so thankful for these blessings, and my life has a purpose through them. But lately my feelings of old have come back with a vengence. Rejection taking a bitter bite. I even now sturggle with, how do I raise my children to be confident people, when I am not. I hate to think of them feeling the rejection I have struggled with all my life. And yes, I speak of this rejection sadly within the walls of the Lord’s house. Yes, hurt I have been. Over and over.
    Thank you for sharing your heart, Ann. I wish I could find a friend like you!

  146. Ann, how I love your words. Not since Madeleine L’Engle have I felt as connected to a person through what they write. I feel that I know you, that you are one of my closest friends and confidants. Not because I have shared my hurts and pains with you, but because you have shared yours with me…and the world. You’ve invited me in. Deeply in. So often, I am humbled by your transparency, a window into your soul. It seems as though you feel what so many of us feel, but more deeply…and it spills out onto the page for all to see…and you let them…see, that is. You. are. treasure.

  147. Anne, I love this. I think that so many women feel this. There are days I feel this, and although humanly speaking I may have reasons for feeling this way, I wonder if we will always have a feeling of not belonging because we live in a sin cursed world and things are all so distorted compared to how God intended them to be. I don’t think I will totally fit in until I reach heaven. We all have walls…and if we take the time to look around and investigate, I think that we would find that the people around us are busy staring at their own walls.

    Striving to see each other in light of the cross causes the walls to melt away, because the focus shifts to the sinless Christ who faced the ultimate rejection extends His hand to those who rejected HIm! He is my ultimate example, and when I focus on Him, I am able to extend my hand to those who have rejected me. And why shouldn’t I? In light of the cross, we are on level ground.

    Your writing touches my heart like no other! You inspire me!
    Thankyou for being a vessel for God to work through.

  148. Wow what testimonies everone has given here, onl once in a while do i turn to this page and read the encouraging words and thoughts of your daily life Ann, it is a wonderful place to visit.
    Lots of things go thru my mind here, and i was so surprised to see this topic and the honesty of it, i am not too sure what to think. my life has been one of lonliness ever since i was a child. my father, it seemed to me, did not like me, but maybe he was trying to protect me and i did not realize it, until even the day of his death he did not speak to me, but maybe he was hurt by my rejection of him also, so consequently i have not been able to relate to men, or to God, all these twenty five years after my divorce have i asked God for a mate and he has said no, on the dating sites, no one except scammers, why does God do this to me? My siblings, i believe have eft me out of their affairs and so i have left them our of mine as though they were not there for two years now, my daughter has told me to stay out of her business and so i have not spoken to her for two months, as for the rest of my three children i have had to leave them alone also, so i am totally alone, i go to church and say hello to a few people and come home alone, i go to work for comfort now i need to turn around and pretend it was all my fault and it wasn’t. this is almost too funny for what seems to go on for years ends up in one short paragraph and my fault. how easy is that! the prison i have been in for years are my own walls. show me how to break out!!!!!

  149. My whole life, I’ve only met two girls that I could trust. We now live in three different states, and rarely see one another. My best friend growing up was a boy (not a romantic interest on either side). I always knew it would sting when we grew old enough to grow apart. He left first. And I’m alone again.

    Sometimes I’m ok with that. The upside of not knowing anybody is that I do not have to tolerate a world of hurt for proprietary’s sake. I already went through that. By far, the worst experiences I’ve ever had involved women. Girls have a capacity for cunning creulty that is terrifing and absolutely vile. There is no forgiveness in a woman.

    I pray for a good girlfriend, but it’s a half hearted prayer. I doubt I am yet desperate enough to risk it. Right now, I can joke I’m raising me one, instead; she was a friend of a now ex friend, six years younger. I thought she was kind. Thankfully, though the age difference was back then, considerable, I was not able to ignore a prompting to invest in this girl’s life. She had just lost a sister, about my age. I can honestly say that this little girl is now the closest of all my friends. She is unfailingly honest, kind, and patient with me. We look out for each other.

    I know there are women out there who are lucky enough to have a whole string of genuine girlfriends, and when I read this post, I cried out of sheer longing. But I have my darling sister in Christ, and whenever I think of her and her unfailing example of steadfastness, I know that I am truly blessed.

  150. I have always been a tomboy and believed for much of my life that I would never have girlfriends and that it didn’t really matter. Of course, God, knowing best, blessed me with great girlfriends in highschool and in college we grew apart, but it left sucha sweetness in my heart. I struggled in failed dating relationships and I used to think I had to be the gilr who hung out with all the guys to find my worth. But my gracious, merciful God brought me some special, very special girlfriends to walk through life with. We are not all in the same place in life or the same ages, but I think that’s what I like best. We can encourage one another and help when we are hurting. We are of one Spirit in Christ and live as his daughters, sisters. What a blessing from heaven!

    I want to encourage women everywhere to pray and seek our Savior first adn then ask him to bless you with uplifting relationships. It may be time to turn and invest in someone who needs discipling and you will find a treasure of a friend in that. Let’s live out he gospel each day in one anothers lives and strive to meet eachothers needs. Who on earth knows a woman’s struggles better than a woman? And who better to knit us together than a pursuit of Christ and his all-consuming Spirit?

    Much love. 🙂

  151. I am alone. No friends. Hurt by girls long in my past. People who you thought were your freinds but werent. A depression that ended me in a hospital and they all ran from me like I was a freak. Couldnt go back to school was homeschooled after that.
    Not one friend since.
    My siblings were older than I. Like by fourteen years. And like most families all was not well in my household. My brother was always around. When we moved to a new town my sister didnt follow. She stayed with grandparents. So I never really knew her on a personal level. Much later on in or life, when she started having trouble with life I got to know her. There for her..talking to her. But her demons had a hold of her good. She lashed out at us all. To protect my young family I had to walk away from her for a while. I knew the truth behind her pain and I couldnt help her for fear that I would lose my parents and brother. But what I lost was her. I had gotten close and became friends and she killed herself. A pain that I cant get over. Most of the time I feel that if I would have helped her she would still be here but I know that may not be true. Family never acknowledged mine or my brothers pain. No one to hug me when I cried…not even my husband.
    But It was through her death that I found God. He was no where in sight for me till she died and I started seeing Him everywhere. It was like he held me when I cried…it was like I could actually feel Him. My journey in faith hasnt been easy and I am getting there…not giving up. Thats why I go to your site Ann, for encouragement and to know that Im not alone in my struggles with life and find some positive in life so thank you.

  152. Wounds…where do I start…at 55, I’m too tired to care anymore. I try to encourage and reach out to people, but still I am strangely alone and feel very abandoned. Being a ministry wife, I can put on the good face but i sit here today and am dying…feeling invisible…..crying for the third day in a row. soooooo invisible….does anybody see me???? I know my Father does……………..that will have to be enough.

  153. As the “hurter” my whole life, I loved this post. I needed to read it and I need to make some changes.

  154. I loved this post! I was that geeky kid in school who loved books and all kinds of other things that weren’t exactly “cool.” I am fortunate now that God has brought wonderful friends into my life and I treasure them. And I think that the idea of a community of grace like you mention sounds beautiful. We moved recently, so I’m still at the stage of settling in where having a community to belong is still a bit of a dream and a hope.

  155. After decades of repeated wounding (some very serious) from women, I can honestly say that I am no longer interested in trying to have friendship with them. Even women who write blogs scar me. In my personal experience I’ve found many of them to take to cliquishness in ways that are damaging. Or I find women who are unable to work through conflict in healthful ways. I wouldn’t make mention of these things if they were isolated instances here and there. But I find them to be the rule not the exception. And with all due respect, I find the idolatry of many for a large handful of women being used by God in this country and in other countries to be very ungodly. My heart is very broken.

    • Sister, you are loved and you are always welcome here. Our door is open to you…I hope your heart will be open to us too. I’m so sorry you have been hurt by women. I think we can all relate to that kind of betrayal and how it makes us want to put walls up inside. I pray you find a place where you feel safe and where your heart can come out of hiding. We need you. There is a place in the body of Christ that only you can fill. We miss you. You are valuable, loved, chosen and you belong.

      • Anonymous, What you share is true. I have seen it too….even in the blog world. It is so easy to want to give up! I came very close to doing that, as I faced rejection from family, and then even in the church, because in some women’s eyes I didn’t fit the right mold. God has made it very clear to me that (1) the hurt and rejection that I have faced can be turned around and be used as a means of grace in my life. I can see it as something that pushes me into the arms of Jesus and then I can look up to Him and ask Him to show me how I am supposed to treat others. (2)I have been reminded that I am not above treating others the way I have been treated..infact…I probably HAVE hurt others. It is in within all of our hearts. ( 3) I have a responsibility to reach out and LIVE the gospel to others…even those who have hurt me…and if I cut myself off from others I am not able to do that. (4) the grace I have been shown is undeserved…I need to ask God help me show that to others (5) I am told to “…love…and pray for those who persecute me…”

        I am not capable of any of this unless God does it through me. So, I strive to focus on Him (not always accomplishing that) and ask for help me to love and reach out.

        You can live out the gospel and love others, especially those who have been hurt. I pray that you will experience healing and be enabled to do that!

        Grace to you!

    • Thank you, Anon sister, for sharing yourself in this space… I’m pulling up a chair and sitting next to you… listening. Praying. Nodding. Grateful for you opening up, here in this sanctuary of grace.

      You are loved…
      By Father… and all of these Grace-clinging daughters…

      • (And Kristen Strong… she writes so tenderly of women and friendship and what to do when you are waiting…

        Thank you, Kristen…. *Thank you* for being the body of Christ and reaching out with gentle love…)

        Grace, sisters… As He has called us friends — so we endeavor to be that to one another — regardless. How you have to me — when I haven’t made it easy. *Thank you*

    • I am so sorry for your wounding, I pray God will heal those wounds gently, lovingly. Oh that you would know just how special and important you are to the Body of Christ as a whole, including the women of that said Body.

      Bless you!


  156. Ann, thank you for your honesty; you’ve made me cry. I have some strong female friendships, but I hold back from opening up and trusting when I really need it. I’ve got some struggles weighing on me and I went to bed with a heavy heart, wishing I could call or email someone and pour it out, but it just felt so ugly, like something I was afraid to show and no one would want to hear. I actually did think of emailing you, though.

  157. probably because in the real world females are mean, judgemental, and harsh. if you don’t conform with the idea of having the just righ outfit, hair, shoes, nails, make-up, and accessories…you don’t fit in and not worth their time.
    if you struggle with being fat, you are automatically labeled lazy
    if you are not able to master the art of make-up, you are labeled homely
    if you do not wear the cutest clothes with matching shoes and accessories, you are considered a fashion freak
    if you have no clue how to decorate your house or use paper plates instead of real, you are an outcast

    In real life women are harsh

  158. I’ve always felt like the outsider in a group of women. I don’t fit into a mold very well. I’m not easy to tag with a label. I’ve found that makes it harder for me to open up and take the chance that they’ll accept me for who I am. It’s my own issue that I need to work through, never their fault. Thank you for this, thank you.


  159. Beautiful. How we women can be so cold and void of compassion until we take a second and place ourselves in another woman’s shoes. I’ve been the girl rallied against as well as the girl doing the rallying. Neither is productive, both can be healed. Thank the Lord for that healing! And thank you for this post.

  160. I just stumbled upon this post and was amazed at the familiarity of your feelings. My mother died very early (when I was just two), and my dad took on the daunting task of raising five children alone. As a result, I never learned a lot of the social graces that seem to come so naturally to other women. I’m not much of a cook. I can’t sew. I feel awkward extending a hand to another woman in a show of support and empathy. I isolate myself due to fear of rejection. It is a safe, but miserable life. As I continued to read your blog, your words jumped out like they had been searching for me…”No one tells you that the shields you carry to keep you safe, they become the the steel cages that keep you alone.” I know this to be true, but it is incredibly difficult to leave your comfort zone, and take the first step needed to end the misery and loneliness. Even if one is brave enough to take a first step, it seems to be so hard to maintain the effort. It is so much easier to remain isolated and “safe.” All this to say, kudos to you and thank you for writing this blog. You hit the nail on the head!

  161. I cannot believe that so many women out there share the same story as me. I have learnt to lean on guys because all the women i was friends would eventually stab me in the backafter using my help .generosity is wasted on women. Only Jesus will never let you down

  162. I located your website after googling “hurt by gossip”. My situation is that my husband and I relocated to another State after being afforded the opportunity to do so. I jumped at the opportunity because my husband’s children grew up and where we lived before had so much negative baggage from my husband’s 1st marriage, etc.. I felt like the move would allow us two and our child to have a fresh start and my husband gave me his complete support! Within a few months after the move, my husband’s business partner stole from us (a lot) and since he was majority partner, we would have to engage the legal system. The entire process and expense hit us like a ton of bricks! During the process, I tried so hard to put on a strong face and among my new friends, tried to maintain the dignity of a woman who was married to a man who was extremely successful for almost 10yrs. However, I made the mistake of confiding in the most backhanded woman in the group of friends I met in my new area. She in return was talking behind my back for months and started playing games (if you know what i mean). I was so worried

  163. I located your website after googling “hurt by gossip”. My situation is that my husband and I relocated to another State after being afforded the opportunity to do so. I jumped at the opportunity because my husband’s children grew up and where we lived before had so much negative baggage from my husband’s 1st marriage, etc.. I felt like the move would allow us two and our child to have a fresh start and my husband gave me his complete support! Within a few months after the move, my husband’s business partner stole from us (a lot) and since he was majority partner, we would have to engage the legal system. The entire process and expense hit us like a ton of bricks! During the process, I tried so hard to put on a strong face and among my new friends, tried to maintain the dignity of a woman who was married to a man who was extremely successful for almost 10yrs. However, I made the mistake of confiding in the most backhanded woman in the group of friends I met in my new area. She in return was talking behind my back for months and started playing games (if you know what i mean). Although i was suspicous, i tolerated many things from this group because we were new to the very small private school where I met them and I did not want problems. After finally having enough, I confronted her and she in return went on a mission with the rest of the group to damage my reputation, of which she has done. People that we have had to dinner and been so kind to act like they don’t even know us. I ended up pulling my chid from the school because it was too much on her but I am still hurting. We live in a very small town (that I under-estimated) and I feel so lonely and afraid some days to even show my face. Other than wanting complete control and punish me for standing up to her, there is no other reason for what she did. I feel so alone some days and confused as to how this could happen. This people know everyone! Even the local coaches. Please respond with helpful advice.