When did the shift happen? When did it become ok to portray women as competitors and even enemies of one another? Do you know what I am talking about? The images are everywhere — magazines, television, movies, books. The idea that I need to be better than other women — thinner, smarter, more powerful, sexier, better dressed — permeates our culture in such a way that potential allies are turned into suspects.
I believed the lie for quite a while. Very few women passed enough tests and criteria to be allowed into my inner circle of trust. Once in, they were placed on an extremely high pedestal from which they will surely never fall. But getting there took a pretty special combination of traits — honesty, humor, authenticity, strength, and the resilience to let my crap bounce off of them. Few were chosen.
Many were kept at arm’s length for whatever reason — I could fabricate a reason in a heartbeat. I missed out on the blessing of many female friendships because of my insecurities and the belief that I needed to be suspicious of the enemy.
That belief is a lie of the one and only enemy.
Women need one another.
I knew I needed my inner circle — I had a best friend all through elementary school who remains so high on the pedestal that the mention of her name brings me pause. I had a partner in crime through middle and high school whose name can still bring out the mischievous teenager in me. I bonded with a dear friend in my freshman year of college who was so steadfast that though our time together was short, she remains on the pedestal today. My dear friend from the rest of undergrad has earned the title of aunt to my children and godmother to my baby because of the way our hearts are knit together. These women…they had a hand in shaping me. I didn’t suspect their loyalty. I didn’t question their motives. They unconditionally supported me.
But I believed they were rare and that real women didn’t act that way. Real women wanted to judge me and outdo me. They were suspect and not to be trusted.
I was wrong.
We all need each other. We need encouragement. We need eye contact. We need to be heard and understood. We need affirmation and acceptance. Unconditionally. When we don’t get it, sometimes our claws come out. We start thinking that others are the competition. We even behave as though we are trying to outdo one another.
I have been noticing a lot of women lately. I have been noticing they aren’t out to get me. They are reaching out to me: inviting me to lunch, or to go on a walk, or to visit their church. They are encouraging me: through email, text, Facebook, and in person. They are befriending me.
I am beginning to believe that most women really want to be in relationship with one another, not in competition with one another. Is it possible, that our media is (gasp) giving us an inaccurate portrayal of reality? (It’s just a question, folks, not a political statement.)
I’m going to go out on a limb here. Instead of trusting my long held and faulty beliefs, I am going to trust God and take a few chances on some women. I think they can be trusted. I mean, they are taking a chance on me.
Romans 12: 10…16
…be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves…
live in harmony with one another…