I was driving down the road when I noticed 4 older women standing in an empty parking lot. They were at one end, near their 4 cars, having an animated conversation that included much laughter. It was as if they had all the time in the world and they were oblivious to anything around them. All four of them were white headed. One was wearing a pale blue wide-brimmed hat, three had glasses, one was in a floral print dress, and the other three had on pants suits. They were all in muted pastels, and looked as if they were fixed up for some occasion. I would say that it might be a wedding based on their lighter colored clothing, but since it is Wednesday I am thinking it is more likely a funeral…or maybe a luncheon. Chatting away, they did not appear to be in any hurry to get to their destination, but they were obviously going somewhere. I thought to myself, this will be us someday…me and my friends.
I recognized this parking lot conversation because I have been a part of many similar ones with my girlfriends. We meet at a set location park our cars and ride together. We say it is to save on gas, and while that is true, it is also so we can talk the whole way there and back. You see, women need each other. We need the time to get together and share our hearts, laughter, fears, problems, joys, tears, celebrations, and sorrows. When I got married one wise woman said to me, “Don’t ever give up your girlfriends.” At the time it seemed an out of place piece of advice when others were telling me all about how to have a strong relationship with my husband. However, now in hindsight, it was one of the most important recommendations I received.
God has blessed me abundantly with many women in my life who are heart friends. In every stage, and age, I have been surrounded by women who share life with me. They are all different personalities, all different sizes, all different interests, all different opinions and they are all AMAZING. I have women who pray with me, and women who work with me….and those two things overlap quite a bit. I have women who I know from way back, and women who are currently in my life. The thing that is so great about this is that whatever stage I am in, birthing babies or watching them fly out of the nest, there is always someone there who gets it. Who gets me. They get my tears, and my frustrations. They get my concerns, and my anxiety. They understand sleepless nights due to babies, or hot flashes. They get my humor, and we laugh together…boy do we laugh….can’t breathe kind of laughter. You know the kind that is the best medicine. Women understand one another. Even when we do not always agree, we can still be supportive of each other. And when a woman takes a hit from life, our friends rally around to dry our tears, and lift us back up. This is not a small thing…it is a sacred one.
There is a bond which joins our lives together. The messiness, the hard unanswerable questions, the attempts to be healthy in both body and soul, the hard to manage circumstances, the wrestling with God, the acceptance of life as it is…all of that, when lived together makes us stronger. I know there is always drama with women, we drive our men crazy with it…we are emotional creatures after all…but as sisters we know when to back off, and when to shine the light, when to be gentle and when to push. Our souls nurture one another in ways that men do not understand. It is actually healthier for our marriages to spend time with our girlfriends, because we are more balanced when we have a place to be understood. Sometimes words are not even necessary, as unbelievable as that may sound.
After time with other women, whether it is a day, a week, or just an hour, we return to our lives refreshed. We pour ourselves out with less resentment, and more gratefulness. We handle stresses with less fear, and more trust. We see less negativity and more beauty. We love more completely, because our time with our friends is like therapy for our hearts.
Not all groups of women honor one another like I am describing. Some are catty and petty and do more harm than good. Some hurtful and suck the life from you rather than giving it…but if you ask for a safe, life-sharing group, God will bring one…maybe more than one, because your life is lived in circles. They overlap, and they move apart…like ripples on a pond. I am so very grateful for the women God has moved in and out of my life over the years. No matter if these friendships are for a season or for a lifetime, I am better for having had them. And one day, if you see a group of old ladies in a parking lot laughing, look for me among the girlfriends. Blessings to ALL OF MY GIRLS… from every age and stage…you know who you are! (Sorry I didn’t have pictures of you all!)
I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3