I had a really strong revelation the summer before I started my freshman year of college. My friendship lack was not with men, but with women. I had become skittish of other girls in high school because of the extreme drama and backstabbing I had experienced with other girls at a really young age. Every time I went to go make a new friend, I thought "Can I trust her?" or "She definitely won't understand me." I gravitated towards my guy friends because they seemed easier. I wish I would have realized then how much I was depriving myself.
Right before college started, I actively prayed for a couple of really solid girl friendships...and God blessed me 30-fold! All during college, I felt like a part of me that was still really young and underdeveloped really blossomed - I know I owe that to my very blessed friendships with my girl friends. I realized that a man and women can only go so deep in their friendship before they have progressed beyond friends, but a healthy friendship between two women can deepen and expand so much it's unbelievable. I so firmly believe that a woman learns who she is as a woman by developing trusting, strong female friendships.
I've heard so often our gifts are also our curses. Women have this amazing ability of observation and insight...why don't we use it to build each other up instead of tear each other down? Even if we're not catty out loud, I've heard numerous women admit (me included), that we instantly notice SO much about other women, but we've trained ourselves wrong. For a long time, if I saw a beautiful/sweet/charismatic woman, I would instantly feel jealous/intimidated/judgmental. (Of course, I would strive not to say ANY of these things out loud.) A few years ago I started challenging myself to retrain my brain. When I saw a friend who looked especially pretty, I would shut out any negativity and affirm her OUT LOUD "You look really beautiful today, Susie!" I felt really dumb at first. I gave a talk on this at a women's group, and tried really hard to practice what I preached. Gradually, I saw the immediate culture of women around me change.
As always, there is no way that our everyday lives can avoid being intertwined with our spiritual lives. I felt drawn towards all of these really positive, strong women in scripture. Two of my favorite women in scripture are Mary (God's Mom) and Elizabeth, her cousin. Individually, Mary is...well, she's amazing! I could write endless blog post about my devotion to the Blessed Mother and how she has helped change my life, both through intercession and example. Elizabeth was SO faithful in her old age.
Together, these women are DYNAMITE! The pure explosion of friendship is shown in Luke:
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.
These two super holy, faithful women who love each other so much come together, both carrying extremely holy little boys in their bellies (because one is, you know, God and everything) and they absolutely REJOICE for each other! I read this and think "Why are we, as women, not rejoicing constantly for each other?!" Elizabeth didn't say, "Looks like you've packed on a little too much baby weight." or say condescendingly "That's so cute that you think your baby is God's son...I bet mine's a prophet or something great like that."
That is why this is one of my FAVORITE pictures. I hope to get a print of this eventually and hang it prominently in my house:
Another reason why I especially love this picture right now is because we're expecting a baby in February! As the end of the 1st trimester approaches and we've gotten several indications that this is a very healthy baby, we are so proud to begin sharing our very happy news.
My blogging had slacked off for awhile because ALL I could think about was the baby and being nauseous and supernaturally tired. Also, I didn't think "Dry heaved today. Going to take a nap now" would make a very interesting blog post ;)
The other picture right now that is rivaling for the most beautiful picture in the world (for Chris and I) right now is this one:
Baby Reed , almost 10 weeks.