Girlfriend! How are you doing right at this moment? I hope your day is going well so far. I hope that you feel grace today. I hope that you remember that you are not alone. I hope that your eyes are lifted up to where your help comes from! I’ve been reminded so very many times that all it takes for an entire day to turn around is for me to simply lift my eyes up. Whew – let’s all just take a brief moment to stop all other thoughts in our heads and just think on that. We DO have help! There IS a helper!
I want to say thank you for joining me in this topic of healthy girlfriending. Thank you! I have so appreciated your support, your input and hearing about your experiences. The more I think and pray about it, the more I’m convinced we could probably spend weeks upon weeks on this topic! We shall refrain from that :). But, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for journeying with me! Here’s a link to to part one and here’s a link to part two.
Healthy Girlfriending. Over the years, I have been able to see patterns within my friendships that are healthy. No friendship is the same as another, clearly. And no friendship is perfect. But there are patterns that I’ve repeatedly experienced within friendship that tell me the relationship is life-giving and mutual. Healthy girlfriending relationships are SUCH a blessing and bring so much joy to life. But girl, they are developed over time and grown in to! We don’t start friendships one day and wake up the next with deep and healthy friendships. But with patience, they come!
First, before we delve into some of the patterns I have seen in my healthy relationships, stop and take a second to think about some of your healthy girlfriending relationships. What are some of the things that tell you its a healthy relationship? How does it differ from others? Message me and tell me what some of your markers are. ALSO, please stay tuned through the end of the post. If you read these signs of a healthy relationship and your heart starts to get ansty because you don’t think your friendships are healthy after all, don’t get panicked! There is encouragement for you at the end.
(Life Group! This was in the first trimester…ya know the ‘filling out’ stage with no clear bump to show for it. Ha! But this has been one source of great girlfriending – filled with delightful variety!)
Indicators that your girlfriending is healthy:
1. After you spend time together, talk on the phone, text, email…You feel good. Sounds simple, right?! But, once you’ve walked through a number of relationships you find that it simply is not the case in every girlfriend relationship. But, if you can walk away feeling encouraged, with a lifted heart and perspective, that’s the golden ticket. The opposite would be to walk away from time together feeling heavy from gossip, worry, criticism, or let’s be honest – just plain old stupid conversation. I kid you not, the stupid talk can really get to you after a while. Of course you should have fun and have silly conversation! But if there’s not more to it than that, at some point, girlfriending exhaustion sets in.
2. The real you comes out when you’re with her. Now here’s the deal about the real me: different elements of the real me come out with different girlfriends. Different ones pull out different sides of me. Which I LOVE! It’s also another reason why I really think having just one close girlfriend is only a fraction of what God intended you to have through girlfriending relationships. If you repeatedly come away from time with a friend feeling like you just weren’t yourself, something’s up. Frankly, something’s up with the dynamic of the friendship OR something’s up with you. At the end of the day, it’s no one else’s responsibility but mine to make sure that I’m being the true me. Sometimes the true me works within the context of girfriending relationship and sometimes it does not. That’s OKAY! But the girlfriends we should focus on giving our time and energy to are the one’s that pull truth out of us. The ones that you find yourself saying how you really feel to. The ones that somehow, through the course of conversation, bring you to a point of revelation. The ones that you feel comfortable letting your true sense of humor out with :). The ones that you would have an honest-to-goodness dance party with!
3. The relationship can survive conflict. It IS going to happen. It may not be early in the relationship (actually, let’s HOPE it’s not!), but at some point probably years in, it will happen. Someone will hurt someone. Whether intentionally or not, we are talking about two human beings here. In fact, I think that conflict can be a sign of health instead of dysfunction. It can be healthy in the sense that it shows you are close enough to each other, honest enough with one another, guards let down enough with one another that you are vulnerable to each other. That’s good! If I never had conflict in any girlfriending relationship over the course of years, I could safely assume that I had a wall up around my heart to protect myself. I can do relationship like that, but I’m simply not going to experience the depth of what God has for me within friendship. A sign of a healthy girlfriending relationship is to experience conflict, work through it, and get to the other side with friendship in tact. Yes my friend, we know we’ve arrived when we can go both down and up together. (Note: A relationship should not be marked by drama or continuous conflict. Drama is different than isolated moments of conflict.)
4. Your relationship is fun when it’s just you and her and it’s fun when new people are added to the mix. Let’s make this one short and sweet: Only having fun when it’s just you and her, or the three of you, is the stuff of middle schoolers. It’s not a sign of maturity or health. Instead, the goal should be to cherish the time you have alone and to open your heart to others when you are with them. That means that you have the capacity to enjoy a very special dynamic together but to not flaunt that dynamic if the face of others when it’s more than the two of you hanging out. One of the things I was instantly in love with about Zion was that the fact that I could take him with me to a social gathering of my friends and he handled himself with grace and confidence. I didn’t have to babysit him! He wasn’t glued to my side the entire evening! He was able to see others of value in the gathering and enjoy them on his own. Dang, that’s what I call sexy! LOL! The same basic principle applies to girlfriending. Healthy girlfriends can put their big girl panties on and have fun with others!
5. The relationship makes you want more of God. It’s not to say that you talk about God non-stop. It’s not that every time together is a Bible study. But it IS to say that I generally walk away with a stirred hunger for God, for truth, for more of Him. It is to say that I can be transparent about my weakness and my strength in Him. It is to say that I know she’s wanting Him and let’s face it, hunger is contagious. AND – it is to say that she supports and wants health and growth for all of my other relationships. Which certainly includes the most important relationship with God but also extends to my husband, my children, my parents, my other friends…etc. The fruit of our girlfriending relationship is that I feel spurred on by her in other relationships. I feel encouraged to do the right thing. I feel strengthened to step up to the plate. I feel hungry to press in. Health in this relationship should spur on health in other relationships.
WHEW GIRLS! Another bit of this series down! I find myself encouraged and challenged by my own words, LOL! There is not one of us who doesn’t need to grow in healthy girlfriending – including myself.
So, let me take a brief moment to address your heart should you feel discouraged at this point. Don’t give up! Don’t go out and cut off friendships! Don’t feel down if you don’t see these signs of health in your girlfriending! Instead – start praying. Ask God to show you the steps you can take to breed more health in your relationships. I always always always find that it’s usually my place to take the first step. If I read this list and was discouraged, I hope that I’d have the strength to say, ‘Okay, how can I help my friends to feel light hearted? How can I create an atmosphere of working through conflict? How can I encourage us to be okay spending time with others? ect…’ But more than anything dear reader, talk to God about it. The Holy Spirit is our helper. He is our counselor. He will show you steps to take. There is only one friendship in my life that I am no longer engaged with at any level. One out of many. The answer is not to dump everyone…just pray.
I pray that you do feel encouraged! After writing, I am SO THANKFUL for the friendships God has put in my life. I want to keep growing. I want to get better at loving. And it thrills my heart to know that that is what HE wants for me too.
Thank you for reading. And seriously, I’d really love to hear what some of your indicators of healthy girlfriending are. What have you seen as a pattern? Hit up me, chica!
Happy weekending and much love,