Female friendships can be hard.
Can I get an Amen?
Nowhere other than in a group of women can you feel so insignificant, chubby, unstylish, judged, and out-of-the-loop.
I’ve recently learned, though, how beautiful and powerful a group of women really can be.
A few years ago, my family moved to Washington, D.C. for my husband’s job. It seemed absurd for me, the country girl who prefers the smell of cow manure to perfume and would rather wear rubber boots than heels, to be living in the chaos known as Northern Virginia. A fish out of water, if ever there was one. We moved into a neighborhood that had clearly not gotten the memo that neighbors were supposed to be strangers.
Neighborhood parties were a regular occurrence, with music blaring, kids running around squealing, and tables loaded down with food. Sometimes the women of our neighborhood got together to make mason jar salads. Other times, we would sit on each others’ porches and share a glass of wine or a bowl of leftover mac and cheese and talk gardening and potty training and jobs. We watched each others’ kids when a sibling was sick or daddy was gone on a trip and mama just needed some help. We helped put away the scooter while the other mom carted in her tantrum-throwing preschooler. We left chocolate in mailboxes.
Slowly, I began to understand what female friendships could be.
It wasn’t that we were all so very alike. Our ages spanned a thirty-year range. Some worked full time. Some stayed at home. Our religious beliefs were different. We voted differently. We fed our families differently. Our husbands had different jobs with unique hours and pressures.
But none of that mattered.
The community I found there didn’t just happen by accident or by some magical “friendship fairy dust” sprinkled over our neighborhood. As I thought about why this group of women was so different from anything else I’d experienced, I came to the conclusion that it really boiled down to one thing.
As I was reading Ann Voskamp’s book The Broken Way, one sentence in particular struck me and immediately made me think of the women in my neighborhood. She writes that a “willingness to be inconvenienced is the ultimate proof of love.”
There it was: a willingness to be inconvenienced.
Friendship is not built upon similarities of age or personality or career. It is built on a willingness to be inconvenienced, broken open for someone, and poured out even when you just don’t feel like it.
Friendship is saying to another human being, “I will go out of my way to see that you know love and that you are cared for. I will be inconvenienced for you. I will let you interrupt my plans and my comfort. I will give whether it was on my schedule or not.”
These beautiful women did just that.
One May morning a stomach virus ripped through our house with a fury. My husband had to rush to the ER with our sick oldest boy. I was eight months pregnant, at home alone with the two year old, and so sick I couldn’t move. My little boy was wandering the house crying, hungry, and wearing a dirty diaper. But I couldn’t move to get him without throwing up. We had no family nearby.
I texted my neighbor and asked her if she would come help me.
Miraculously, she did.
She came and turned on a movie for my little guy and fed him apples and crackers. She brought me a glass of water and a trash can. Only later did I find out from her husband that she had an important event the coming weekend that she would have had to miss had she caught our miserable virus. She never mentioned it.
Women who are willing to be inconvenienced for each other are a friendship force unlike any other. Instead of comparison and gossip, I found warmth and grace. I’m grateful to have been given the chance to learn from these astonishingly beautiful women.