by Randi Peck
Sometimes, I don’t like women. Women are complicated. They are often sensitive and sometimes dramatic. Women are easily offended. Hard to please. Quick to gossip. Women stew on offenses for months or years. Women close themselves off and make it nearly impossible to earn their trust. Women are difficult, exhausting, and- did I mention- complicated?!
I would know- because I am one.
I have been hurt by many women. Many women have been hurt by me. And yet, I am here today to tell you with confidence and conviction: Women, we need each other.
I know the pain of putting yourself out there only to be stabbed in the back. I am also a chronic people-pleaser who has agonized over the instances in which I deeply hurt my girlfriends. I am all too familiar with the inclination to isolate, recoil, and protect… After all, it’s not worth the drama, right?
The past couple years, however, God has challenged this tendency. Ever since graduating high school, I have moved to a new city- and therefore a new job, school, and/or church- about every two years. Though various circumstances- and largely, the nature of the college years- have contributed to this nomadic lifestyle, it has enabled me to keep my distance in most friendships. Things start to get awkward? Annoying? Vulnerable? Welp, time to pack up my bags and find some new friends!
This wasn’t conscious, I assure you. But deep down, I know that I was satisfied without working through the messiness of “long term friends”. To know and to be known: these are terrifying prospects to me.
But now I’ve been back in Medford for almost three years. In this time, I have experienced some conflicts with friends. My girlfriends have seen my worst. My sisters in Christ have both bugged me and been bugged by me. All this came as no surprise. What has surprised me, though, is just how invaluable these friendships have proven to be.
For every awkward conversation I’ve taken on, I’ve experienced one hundred encouraging meetings. Instead of being burdened with betrayal, I’ve been lifted up in prayer. Where I feared there would be drama, there has been beautiful growth in my own soul and rejoicing as my sisters grow also.
I know it is so hard to go deeper with our sisters, but if I can be so bold to exhort you to keep pushing… Continue reaching out… Do the harder thing. Once you taste of true, Christ-centered fellowship, you will lose your palate for shallow, social-media acquaintances.
Will it hurt sometimes? Absolutely. Will there be conflict? Probably. Does it get messy? Yup. C.S. Lewis didn’t shy away from the reality of the difficulty of relationships in his book The Four Loves: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.”
But I find it compelling that, though love is painful, it is the primary command from our Lord. If we serve the God who is love, we cannot but give ourselves to sincere and vulnerable relationships. 1 John 4:21 asserts, “And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
The beauty of Christ-centered relationships is that when we completely find our identity and affirmation in the Lord, we are able to walk through the hardship common to friendships. As we are rooted in God’s love, we are strengthened to forgive and to confess, to comfort and to confront. These experiences that, apart from Him, are agonizing become sweetly broken and beautifully joyous occasions.
If you’re like me, even though you know there is some treasure to be found in true friendship, the fear of being disappointed and the fear of disappointing still causes hesitancy. I get it. But God doesn’t ask of us what He won’t supply for us. He may call us to lay our lives down in love, but He surely gives us life and love abundantly as we obey. C.S. Lewis concludes his thought on heart-wrenchingly vulnerable relationships in this way: “We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.”
So, yes, sometimes I still don’t like women. But most of the time, I love women. Women are compassionate. Quick to pray and encourage. Easy to laugh with. It is women who have screamed in delight as I announced engagements and pregnancies. It is women who have wept with me as I grappled with darkness and suffering. It is women who have supplied caffeine when I’m on the verge of a sleep-deprived meltdown. It is women who have texted powerful Scripture to me when my perspective was clouded. It is women who have faithfully and patiently challenged me to godliness. And time and time again, it is women who have modeled Christ’s love and extended God’s grace to me.
Women, truly… we need each other.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25