I have spent most of my life being the pursuer in female friendships. In junior high and high school, I was the one who always invited girlfriends over to my house. In college, I was the one who invited other women to coffee dates. Even now, as a mom, I am the one in our circle of friends who plans the get-togethers most of the time. The other day, when I mentioned scheduling another dinner, one of my friends laughingly responded, “I was just thinking to myself — Ann needs to organize another girl’s night!”
And I don’t mind it. Really. I’m outgoing, proactive, social. I like bringing women together and helping to create a space in which we can rest, reflect, and laugh together. It’s important. It doesn’t happen enough.
But sometimes I forget how special it feels to be pursued by other women in friendship. Last week, I was reminded.
My husband is a pastor, and this past weekend was our college retreat, kicking off on Friday night with dinner at our house. We were expecting about twenty students and leaders to come over and begin the retreat by sharing a meal. Unsurprisingly, I spent a lot of time on Friday prepping for their arrival.
Earlier in the week, my friend Andrea had asked me if she could drop something off on Friday. I hadn’t thought much about it, knowing that I would be busy getting the house and food ready. When she knocked on the door early on Friday afternoon, she was standing there holding cake.
But not just any cake. My favorite flavor from my favorite bakery in town.
She smiled at me, and then she told me that she knew we had a big weekend coming up and just wanted to “drop a little something off.” She told me that she was praying for us.
I enveloped her in a hug and laughed. She had me pegged; chocolate is one of my love languages and a swift way into my heart. More than that, though, I felt loved and known by Andrea. She is a new mom with a job; she is busy and tired, as we all are. But she had taken time out of her day to drive across town, pick up a piece of cake, and then drop it off at my home.
It was a small gesture, but it meant a great deal to me. That cake reminded me that Andrea valued our friendship; she was, in a tangible way, pursuing me.
Maybe you’re like me, and you’re used to being the pursuer in friendships. My encouragement? Don’t stop. Andrea’s cake has reminded me that I should continue to pursue the women in my life who I value as friends, and that the pursuit deeply matters.
A latte dropped off for a mom whose baby has an ear infection can go a long way. The caffeine will keep her awake, yes, but more importantly, the reminder that she’s going to make it as a new mom will keep her spirit up. A homemade meal (or a lovingly-purchased Chik-fil-A meal) dropped off when your friend’s husband is out of town might give her fifteen minutes alone rather than another fifteen minutes standing over the stove. But more than that, it might give her desperately-needed encouragement during a week when she’s running on empty. Calling a friend to pray with her when she’s discouraged, dropping a note in the mail, shooting a quick email — there are many ways to pursue the female friendships in our lives.
If you’re not typically the pursuer in friendships, my encouragement is to try. Your phone call or text might be a lifeline one day for a friend who often seems very bold and put-together.
Because ultimately, being pursued by a friend tells us that we’re not alone. It tells us that we have other women who see us, believe in us, and are able — and willing — to help us. And that is the truth at the core of our faith: we are not alone. Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, and when we pursue our friends, we get to join with him by being his hands and his presence in their lives.
Sometimes, those hands are holding cake.