Do any of the following sound familiar:
“Girls are harder to raise than boys.”
“I get along with men better than I do with women.”
“Women are so dramatic and catty.”
Perhaps many of us have heard these words, maybe even from the very women who have raised and shaped us over the years. I myself have said some of these things about other women. With a combination of negative stereotypes from society and personal bad experiences, many women today, like myself, have a difficult time forming relationships with other women.
A few months ago I began praying for close sisterhood with believing women. As I began to pray I realized something:
I’m afraid of close friendships, and I run at the first sign of trouble in relationships.
In addition to this, I run from anything that’s “all women” – I run from ladies retreats, women’s bible studies, and girls’ hangouts. I always come up with an excuse to not go. But why? As I mentioned earlier, in addition to negative stereotypes, personal bad experiences with other women have kept me running as well. And, if I’m honest, unrealistic expectations of women was also a factor.
I have to stop judging women based on stereotypes, personal negative experiences, and unrealistic expectations. Yes, some women are dramatic and catty. And yes, I have been hurt by other women, but I have hurt other women as well. We’re all sinful. And no friend or friendship is going to live up to my expectations or preferences. I don’t even live up to my expectations and preferences.
We can’t expect to be close to all the women in our lives or have the scars of past failed friendships vanish. We can, however, with God’s help, overcome resentment and fear and move on.
It Starts with Me
I do not write as a woman who has friendship with other women figured out. I’m still navigating this territory. But as I have become aware of my fear of sisterhood and my need for sisterhood, God has revealed some truths and practical steps to healthy friendships. The truth is, it starts with me.
I have to repent from allowing negative stereotypes of women dictate how I view them. It’s true – men and women are extremely different, but one sex is not superior than the other or more civil in their dealings with their own sex. Men and women can both be slanderous, petty and self-seeking towards their respective sex, it might just look differently.
I have to give God all my fears and hurts from past interactions and friendships with women. I am not saying go into a relationship with eyes closed. Of course be wise. But take every woman individually. We can’t make them suffer for past awful relationships or hold them to an unrealistic standard based on previous great relationships either.
I have to have grace and realistic expectations of other women. When it comes to realistic expectations, I am the worst. Although I know no friendship is perfect or void of conflict, subconsciously I hope for friendships where we never fight, we do all fun things together, we have “deep” spiritual conversations, we share secrets and confess sin with no condemnation, we get married and have kids at the same time, we have the exact same views, and we feel the same way and never grow apart. Out loud and on paper, some of these things are crazy. But if we are honest, many of us have these dreams and expectations.
Some of these things are not bad, and they are not wrong to desire, but if we feel that these things will be the norm without conflict, we are in for a rude awakening. I feel many of us have had these rude awakenings and because of them we run from friendship to friendship, hoping for something better. The truth is friends fight, have different views, get married at different times, and unfortunately don’t always react biblically to confessed sin and sadly, sometimes grow apart for various reasons.
Practical Ways to Form Healthy Friendships with Other Women
But, there is good news! There are some practical things we can do to have healthy friendships with other women. Not perfect relationships, but God honoring, healthy relationships.
Prayer. Once I realized I barely had any close friends and was actually afraid of forming close friendships, I began to pray boldly. I asked God to send me friends. I asked for relationships where we would help each other grow closer to God. I also prayed He would grow and strengthen the friendships I already have.
Patience. I am still waiting on those close friendships. While I do have a few sisters in Christ whom I love deeply, unfortunately, because of where we are in life, we rarely see each other or do life together. Though I yearn for more, during this time of prayer and waiting, I am learning to be grateful for the small interactions and limited time I do get to hang out with my sisters in Christ. God could grow the small bonds that already exist with my current friends, He can bring new ones, or do both. It won’t happen overnight and it might not happen for months, but be patient and available to the few women who are in your life now.
Availability. God has really impressed upon my heart the importance of being available to people, especially to the church and to other sisters in Christ. Being available could mean listening, praying for people, helping out financially, sending a text to check on someone, hanging out, or encouraging someone to keep on in the faith. Friendships can grow from just being there for people. But regardless of whether or not friendships will grow, as believers, we should practice being available to one another.
Realistic Expectations. Develop realistic expectations. This gets tricky given the fact that people’s definition of “realistic” varies. So let’s go with God’s. God expects us to love one another as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). He also expects us not to slander each other (James 4:11-12), encourage each other (Hebrews 3:13, 10:24-25) forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32), and hold each other accountable (James 5:16). These are just a few of God’s expectations. Also, be realistic about the types of friends you may get. Everyone wants that cool friend that everybody loves. Or you may want a friend that is only your friend and no one else’s. Neither of these things are healthy. Be willing to have awkward friends and friends that challenge you. Be willing to share friends as well.
Once again, I do not have friendships and relationships with women all figured out. I still want to run at the first sign of trouble. But to run from these relationships is to run from God’s primary way in which he sanctifies and blesses us.
Please pray for me and with me as I seek to love and be a blessing to other women.
Armonique “Army” Hayes is a native Houstonian and a student at the University of Houston-Downtown. She is currently working towards earning a Bachelors in Education. When not doing homework, she spends her time working with students at an after-school program and with the youth from her church. She also enjoys writing as an outlet and for the edification of the church.
This post is a part of the Sisterhood Series – diving into the importance of Sisterhood for our Christian walk. Check out other posts in the Sisterhood Series, including Our Sisters Need Encouragement, In Her Storm, Be There, and What to Pray for Our Sisters in Christ.
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