A while back, I wrote about the importance of community. That group of people who pick up your slack and fill in the gaps; who, sometimes, are the only reason you feel like you can push onward towards another day. This village is priceless and essential, not only for families, but for everyone. Married, single, parents, the childless, old, young--you name it, they need a village.
Today, I'm going to talk, again, about community (hey, did you know that I think community is important?), but I'm going to talk to, and focus on, a specific group within it.
Women (and being a woman, I feel fairly well qualified to speak on the subject).
Women, and specifically groups of close friends of women, get a bad rap. I don't need to delve into all the ugly specifics, but if you are a woman and have ever been a part of a close, same sex friendship, you know what I'm talking about. We don't encourage these relationships enough, let alone celebrate them. The idea that these friendships are rife with cattiness and conflict, that they secretly hate each other, or if they don't then they must openly hate and exclude anyone who isn't them, is pervasive in our world. And so, so damaging.
I'm not saying that there aren't people and friendships like the above mentioned (although, I am most certainly saying that it isn't limited to just women. I have met some mean dudes in my time. Let's all just agree that humanity as a whole has a wicked streak, shall we?) But by feeding into this notion that women can't be close friends without some very terrible side affects, we are denying ourselves the great and powerful gift of sisterhood.
My husband is my best friend, period. He's the one, and I tell him everything. But here's the thing. Even though I tell him everything, he cannot relate to some of the things I say, or go through, in the same way a woman can. Do I need to add a "duh" for emphasis? Because, duh. He's a man. And while all of my experiences are rooted in my humanity first and foremost, so many of them are also tangled up in being a wife, a mother, a daughter--things specific to women. So while my husband can sympathize with me after a particularly hard day of woman-ing (it's a word now, I just decided), the women in my life can empathize with me. They identify with me. I can look in their eyes and I see our similar experiences and emotions reflected back.
When I think back on exceptionally hard times in my life, one thing is very clear. God uses the people around us as vessels of His love and deep healing. We spit on that divine gift when we brush aside the importance of women friendships. We need to protect and preserve these relationships, not trash them. They are sacred, and we need to treat them as such.
So whether you call it your tribe, your sisterhood, your girls, your whatever--find it and hang on. Find the ones who lift you up, and who call you out when needed. The ones who link arms and hearts, ready to do battle with, and for, you. They are life giving and affirming, and will change your world.