Thursday, January 21, 2010

Friendship Struggles Start Early

Today, on the way to Preschool, Miss A told me that she is no longer friends with her former best friend "T." She then went into some long story about an indoor jumper, the art center and the fact that "T" no longer will look at her or talk to her. I'm not sure I understood the whole explanation, which of course exasperated the speaker, but I got the gist.

Friendship is hard. Even in the preschool years, girls can be mean. Our feelings get hurt.

Miss A and I talked about forgetting the past, walking up to "T," and just saying "hey lets play in the kitchen center" and see what happened. Of course, A told me not to be the boss of her in her friendships and I just laughed and thought, "Oh honey, it's going to be a long journey through the teens years with you."

Miss M as a fourth grader has already encountered a few "mean girls," girls who thought they ran the school, the dance floor, or the soccer field and all girls who got in their ways should be trampled. She's felt pressure to wear the right clothes, have the right hair style, and act a certain way to fit in with the other girls. There have been tears and heavy hearts about things girls have said or done.

Taking the Beth Moore Bible Study: Esther: It's Tough Being a Women last year was eye opening to me about some of the inherent struggles women have with each other and themselves. Struggles that God does not desire for us and that break His heart, but are sometimes even more rampant in the Christian culture than any other place. Sadly, we Christians are not exempt and unfortunately, I see it in my own church. It must pain God to watch that in what should be a safe, welcoming environment. I've seen friendships among women in " churches" that are as mean and unforgiving as an junior high locker room. I know women who have been so hurt from Christian Women that they refuse to go to Bible Studies, or stay away from Worship because they are too worried about being gossiped about, or looked down upon.

I know that I cried many a tear in junior high and high school over the comments of other girls. Thankfully, God has given me the ability to forget and most of those horrible memories don't exist anymore. However, like a momma bear protecting her young, my memory is long when it comes to my own "girls" and I don't have much patience or forgiveness for mean little girls.

I think deep down a lot of these little "tryst" can be explained away by misunderstanding, fear or insecurity. Miss T is a very nice girl. She's not mean at all, but Miss A can be a little nervous, she can get a little shy and I think like all girls she can be a little afraid to broach "girls" who she think are mad at her or ignore her in some way. It's true for preschoolers and adults alike, once we get our feelings hurt a little bit, we get gun shy and won't be as likely to reach out.

Boys are so much easier when it comes to friendships. They can fight one time and the next be buddies. One afternoon they will be arguing about who is the better player or better team and then the next day be playing Wii Boxing and laughing like crazy with each other. Arguments don't hurt them, they just brush it off.

Not so with girls.

Lately , I'm trying to be more focused on praying for my girls and girls they come into contact with. Praying that my girls will be kind, that they will be compassionate and friendly, that they will be open to friendships, and welcoming to all girls. I've been praying that as Miss M starts to enter the 'preteen' years that God will guard her heart. I pray that she'll enter into friendships with kind girls, girls with similar morals and values, and hearts that are filled with God's love. I'm praying that she'll find one really good friend that she can share the deep parts of her heart and soul with . That her friend will treat her "secret" information gently and loving and not betray that trust.

Friendships with women even as an adult I've found can be challenging. While I have some close friends that I've had for decades that I trust completely, I too have been burned by friends. I've been teased and felt the sting of words that crush. My personality is such that once that happens I want nothing more than to crawl into a hole and hide. I want to steer clear of "mean girls" and just hunker down with the trusted few and my family.

However, I realize that this example is not what I want to give my girls. I want them to see women's friendship as a gift from God. Something that we have to help us on the journey of life, to share our joys and sorrows, and to build each other up not tear each other down.

Plus, I know that my husband, while he's my best friend, can only handle so much girl talk. At the end of the day, he can only listen to so many of my words and, with a long winter Girlfriend, I have lots of words stored up some days!

That's why I'm grateful for the friendships I do have. That's why I'm willing to risk "it" with new friends. That's why I told Miss A today that her Friday goal is to makeup with Miss "T." Who cares who is wrong. They are a riot together and Miss A needs friends like that this year to laugh and giggle with, to play American Girl Dolls, and to Dress Up in Dance Costumes, and dance like Cinderella together.

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