We live in this weird time where everything is online to be seen, misinterpreted, exaggerated and envied. If someone posts a picture of their latest culinary creation, girls night out or time alone at the coffee shop, our first thought is to compare her life to our own.
Even a person’s friendships are out there for our scrutiny. We analyze how many girlfriends someone has, how often they get together and whether they do or do not include their children. The fact is that there is not a magic number of friends a woman needs. There is not a perfect nights-out-to-nights-at-home ratio.
There are, however, some key characteristics needed in friendship. These can be found in multiple people or just a couple. If you find all of them in one woman, hold on to her like grim death.
- The Grace Giver There is no way around it. We are going to mess up in big, embarrassing ways. We are going to speak out of turn. We are going to stand someone up. We are going to hurt someone’s feelings. Every woman needs a friend that is generous with the grace. No one should have to grovel, beg or plead for friendship. There has to be a woman who, when she looks you in the eye, has nothing but love.
- The Truth Teller This is the friend that you do not always appreciate at the time, but it is so needed. Every woman needs a friend that will tell her when her attitude is out of whack or her priorities are out of line. It isn’t always pretty, but it’s precious. Flattery may feel good, but a truth-teller can be trusted. This is the woman who will tell you when your hair is too big, your jeans are too tight or your contribution to Wednesday night supper was less than stellar.
- The Couch Counselor Lots of people will open their hearts to you. They will listen intently and pray faithfully. It is a special person, however, that opens her home to you. When a woman is willing to move the laundry and make some coffee, real relationships are formed. Honesty abounds with Dora the Explorer in the background.
- The Burden Bearer Just the other day, I was struck by a verse in Philippians. When writing to “the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi,” Paul’s desire was that they would be striving side by side and not frightened in anything (Philippians 1:27-28.) If there was some striving and some opportunities to be frightened, it is safe to say that there were some trials and painful experiences going on in their lives. Even your closest of friends can not always fix your problems. You need a friend, however, that will walk side by side with you through your trial. You need that woman who will bake you a casserole, babysit your kids or just be there to listen.
- The Secret Sharer Oh, this is a good one, y’all. There must be a woman in your life who is a safe place for your secrets. This is the woman who knows that your cakes are from a box, you hid in the bathroom during your junior prom and you love you some reality television on Tuesday nights. There is no judgement in this relationship. When Gilmore Girls did you wrong, she just showed up with chocolate. She knows what you like on your pizza and never blinks twice when you go back for thirds at the local buffet.
Friendship is such a tricky thing. I think back to my mom sitting on the front porch snapping fresh green beans with the neighbor and wonder when it all got so complicated. When did friendship become a competition? Who cares if someone else is having dinner and drinking wine with her girlfriends while your crew are all holding juice boxes watching the kids run around the playground?
Again, I say, “Who cares?” Friendship doesn’t always look like it did on Friends, but that doesn’t make it any less of a friendship.
If it works for you, I say, “Pass the coffee and carry on.”