by Jen Ramlet
I remember the first time I received a friendship necklace. I was in second grade and my best friend Ashleigh had just gotten home from the mall. Ash and her mom were often near the mall as that was where their hair salon was located. They both seemed to have a love for their bangs being just right and for good reason; they both had seriously perfect bangs. As I sat on her bed near her blue see-through Mac computer and posters of N’sync and Hanson, she got out a Claire’s bag from her jean backpack and handed me the other half of a heart necklace. I was so excited. It was pink and purple and although I knew Ash didn’t like either of these colors I concluded they must have been the only ones left and she was forced to settle. The chain was that of a dog tag, small little popcorn seed balls of metal at just the perfect length. Ash and I had a thing about matching. We were never fully “matchy matchy” but I wore EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING Tweedy Bird and she wore EVERYTHING Bugs Bunny. Our other best friend Maggie was also in on this strange animated train and wore EVERYTHING Sylvester the cat. We were kind of weird little girls, none-the-less, we started a trend and before you knew it the entire grade school was like a walking Looney Tunes ad. Looking back it was pretty incredible and impressive.
However, the most amazing thing to me about this story is that Ashleigh, Maggie, and I are still best friends, 25 years later. Ash and Mag are both therapist and have their own practice here in Denver. They are still to this day the most amazing, beautiful, passionate and kind women. They have a love for people, both children and adult alike, and aim to help them find true healing in their life. I know this is not the norm; most people don’t experience friends for 25 years, let alone when you’re in your early 30’s. And although I have moved a lot and have not always been as close in distance and emotion with them, they still remain the ones I can count on for unconditional love, support, and friendship. These women I know will be my friends forever. But this isn’t the case with other friends in my life. And I’m guessing it might not be the case for you either.
Friends, especially women, can be hard to read and understand. We are a complicated people group with all sorts of emotions and outbursts. One day you’re getting Pedi’s and lattes and the next day their not only not speaking to you but gossiping to everyone else about you. WHAT IS THAT?!?! I mean seriously ladies!! What is wrong with us as women that we, and I mean all of us, can switch that quick? I used to tell my mom this is why I had guy friends. It was easier in my college days to be friends with dudes. I could be my outgoing loud self, tell them why they ticked me off, they’d do the same to me and it was over. We’d go on playing Guitar Hero. But with women it is so much more complex. Half the time we don’t even know what we did to make someone mad. Most of us won’t just come out and tell another woman what they did wrong or how they hurt us. Either because we do not like confrontation, were worried it won’t go well or simply we may just not care about that person enough. This however tends to ruin not only our friendships but us personally as a whole. Many times the struggle is not even about us. It comes back to the word we all dislike and many despise; Insecurity! We are annoyed, threated, frustrated or envious of each other. We find ways to get upset, cause an argument or simply ignore one another due to that insecurity.
Beth Moore often speaks of insecurities, not just in regards to ourselves but when it comes to other women. She made a few points that truly impacted me:
1. “You can’t out-love someone’s insecurity.”
Your see no matter how much you love your friends and want the best for them, you personally cannot emotionally nor verbally change how they view themselves or how they view you. While you can encourage them and challenge them in that self-doubt, only they can to come to the conclusion before change will truly transpire.
2. “Competition and Comparison breed insecurity. “
When we compete with one another wither it is competing in our work, in our relationships, financially or physically, we feed into the enemy’s scheme. He wants us to be insecure. He wants us to be jealous of one another. He wants us to all fall on our face when we’re racing around this life trying to compete and compare. We as women need to STOP DOING IT! What if we all decided together, even if it’s just in your friend group to say “NO MORE”! No more mom-competitions. No more physical competitions. No more one-upping or getting the last word in edge wise and especially no more making each other feel uncomfortable in the beautiful skin God has given us. No more!
In Proverbs 24:17-it says: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice” This does not have to be just an “enemy”. You see, we live in a society that says, “they can be doing well, but we better be doing better.” Last summer my mother-in-law and I saw a sign in an antique store while driving home from camping. It said “Lord, if you will not make me skinny, please make my friends fat.” And while we got a good laugh out of it, the truth of the matter is, part of the reason we were laughing is because it is true. It is how society tells us to think about one another. And it can and should stop with us.
Now many insecurities transpire when we try to cram too many friends into our lives. Friendship is more than just an acquaintance. It is something that is special and should be saved for those who truly know you and still love you. This has always been a hard thing for me to comprehend. I have always been the type of person that wants everyone to like me; to approve of me. I wasn’t amazing at every sport, didn’t get straight A’s or kill it every month at work but I had a lot of friends. However, each year as I get older and experience a little more pain and disappointment, it becomes clearer. You don’t have to let everyone into your life to be well liked and approved of. Seeking validation from everyone will only lead you to frustration and regret.
A few days ago I was on the phone with my mom frustrated with yet another case of “girl drama”. When I asked her when the drama would end she said, “Honestly babe, it never does. Even women in their 70’s can carry drama and cattiness. The goal is to look for fewer friends. Find the ones that understand you and love you for who you are. Invest in those friendships. Surround yourself with friends that are not easily offended but will help you be the best women of God you can be.” As I hung up and contemplated our hour long conversation I realized that God did in fact create us to have community. To have a group of people in our lives that uplift us up, who ask us the hard questions and challenge us. Who love us with an unconditional love and who we love right back with the same fiery passion. And while we’re not always going to get it right every single time, creating a community with other believers is so vital in our walk with the Lord as well as in our life as a whole. We need friends that are soul food. Who are constantly sharping us.
In Proverbs 27:17 it says: “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend”. True friends are meant to sharpen one another. Unhealthy friends will make you spiritually dull. So I want to ask you today ladies two questions:
Who in your life is making you sharp when it comes to your fire for the lord, your relationships, your career and your overall well-being? And who is making you feel spiritually, emotionally and physically dull? Decide today who you want your community tribe to be. That close knit group that loves unconditionally and judges not, but lifts you closer to your relationship with the Lord and shows you how the Lord truly sees you.
Also ladies, I want to challenge you with this: Start today with saying NO MORE! No more to the competitions and comparisons. It starts with you. You can make a difference in your family, in your friend group and in your community if you just make a stand to say NO MORE.
Jen Ramlet is a hilarious, fun, wise woman who will have you laughing till you cry one moment and bearing your soul the next. She is a writer and speaker with a passion for mentoring women and helping them find true freedom in Christ. Jen lives in Denver, CO with her handsome husband and super cute pup. You can find more of fabulous Jen at her blog, Rustic Glory (seriously, check it out, you’ll love it).