One of the greatest hurdles for us as women today is loneliness…followed closely by inadequacy and judgement.Tammi McCarthy
We can all go back over our life and remember a time when we felt alone. Loneliness is not limited to a personality type or character. We experience loneliness anytime we think that we are alone in a struggle, a mindset, or a hardship that we must work through. We experience loneliness when others make us feel unwanted, unloved, or unappreciated.
However, we can also make ourselves feel lonely or isolated when we fail to be true to ourselves. When we create personalities that please others by saying the right thing or being in agreement, when in truth, we do not believe what we agree to. We are afraid of being different or standing up for what we know is right. We can only allow ourselves to be “boxed in” to a perspective for a short period of time before we find ourselves feeling trapped, frustrated, and unheard.
I remember when I was a newlywed, and I had just moved back to the Philadelphia area to live near my husband’s family, struggling with these feelings of loneliness. I remember riding in the car, returning from numerous gatherings, processing conversations that I had had. I was new to being part of the “everyday” functions of the family and I was trying to establish myself. I remember thinking things like, “Why did she say that? What was that supposed to mean? Did he/she know that was hurtful?” My poor husband grew more and more frustrated at trying to help me sift through the possible meanings and motives of family members.
I remember one time as we were going to bed when he just said, “Why do you do this? Why don’t you just say… ‘what does that mean? I don’t understand why you are saying that?’” He made it seem so simple, but I viewed that as unnecessary confrontation. He assured me that I needed to have a voice and be clear with people whom I loved.
One day, in particular, I remember having a conversation with two of my closest sisters-in-law. I shared with both of them that I often felt like I was holding back some of the discussions I needed to have and that I couldn’t have that sort of relationship any longer. I wanted our friendships to be on a deeper, more intimate level, and that meant I needed to be able to speak my mind. I didn’t want any of us to have to walk away from a situation and replay things that were said.
I shared that I was not being honest. I would often say I “didn’t care” about something that I did care about. I didn’t think they would value my opinion if it was different than their opinion. But, I needed to be able to share myself. I remember saying, “you might not like me sometimes, but at least you will know how I feel. You won’t have to wonder if I am walking away wishing I said something different.”
I wanted honesty. It would be integral to those relationships. Because what my heart was really telling these women was that I valued them. I was bringing them into the inner circle of my heart, creating a special place for them. I was telling these two women that I wanted permission to be vulnerable with them and asked that they be willing to do that with me, regardless of how hard or hurtful it might be.
Their response was so beautiful. They wanted that same freedom as well. They wanted to know that what I said was what I felt. They wanted to have girlfriends that could push them to be better versions of themselves because the foundation was one of trust and acceptance.
Over the next few years, the Lord would continue to add to that inner circle as my friendships continued to be strengthened by the faith-filled women who entered my life.
I’ve come to realize that the greatest gift I can give myself is a nest of women who can comfort me, strengthen me, and help me find my wings to fly with.Tammi McCarthy
We all need to find a nest or tribe of women who we have chosen. Women who have proven their worth through countless situations. They are the women who take your call even when it’s inconvenient, the ones who cry when your heart is breaking, and hold the “congratulations” banner at the end of a race.
“I have called you by name. You are mine.” – Isaiah 43:1
Being with a great group of women can help us identify wounds, weaknesses, and begin to heal. These women can bridge the gap in our healing. They can encourage us to dream dreams, remind us of our value, and help us see our belovedness.
Do you have a strong circle of friends, or is this an area where you want to grow?
Our female friendship circle can struggle because of our personal battles with envy, judgement, and feeling inadequate.
We spend so much of our time today being envious of other women’s talents, careers, and families. We think that perfection is our goal, and we judge anyone who does not strive for that.
We scroll through Instagram admiring perfect “snapshots” of farmhouse homes, families who look and seem to have it all together, and women who make running a home seem effortless. We can struggle with feeling inadequate in the home environment we are providing. We can begin to think that our family will “never measure up” to what others are doing. We couldn’t possibly imagine being friends with any of these women who create these feelings within us.
We allow our weaknesses to steal from us the greatest gift that God can give us…each other. Only another woman can know what it feels like to bring life into this world. Only a woman can communicate in the language of the heart. We need to die to our weaknesses and embrace the thought, that maybe, just maybe…we ourselves have something to offer another woman in friendship.
How can we break this cycle of loneliness in our own life? Start by being the friend that you want. Call your friends and share your life with them. Ask them specific questions about their life. Is there an area where they are really struggling? Be willing to listen. Even better, call back in a few days and ask them how they are doing. True friends are friends who share not only our struggles, but help pave the road ahead of us with wisdom and their time.
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter. He who has found one has found a treasure.Sirach 6:14