I have fabulous friends from all walks of life, and I cannot begin to explain how very important my relationship with each one is to me; but I'm going to try through the words of Cindy. Let me preface this all by explaining a few things. Each November, our church has a GALA where we try to raise money for missions. This past November, Cindy, my favorite female pastor....whom I've blogged about before....auctioned off a wonderful item. You see she is not only a pastor, but she also writes an article for our local paper. So for the GALA, she auctioned off the opportunity to have lunch with her and help her plan the topic of one of her articles. Now knowing how much I LOVE Cindy and respect her and knowing that I too am into writing, two of my dear friends....bid on that item and won it. Then you'll never guess what they did.....they gave it to me for my birthday! Not only was I so very touched, but I was truly speechless....mainly because I already had the topic brewing in my very full brain. I met with Cindy about a month ago at our local bakery....we sat outside and lunched and discussed the article. I explained that as soon as I opened the treasured gift from my friends, I knew what I wanted her to write about....THEM...Girlfriends....The Women In My Life! She was happy and excited to write about how women need relationships with each other. We chatted for a while, and I told her about lots of my friends and how they encourage me and support me and love me. So last week, she emails me a "rough" draft of the article and asks me to honestly give her any critiques I had. I replied with "I LOVE IT!" and so without further ado....here is that treasured gift, and it's in honor of all the women in my life....the ones I see daily, the ones I speak to daily, the ones I pray for and adore, the ones I've only met in the world of blogging, the ones I've had for 30+ years, the ones I will have for 30+ more years, my peeps, my sisters in Christ, my sisters in all walks of life, my girlfriends....I love you!
By Dr. Cindy Ryan
It happened 25 years ago ... to me it was a non-event; to another person it was a major event. How could two people have such different recollections of the same thing?
I have two girlfriends I still talk to regularly who were my friends then. I called both of them and asked for their memories of the event. "Do you remember that day when ...?"
I am grateful to have women friends I have counted on year after year. And, of course, both of my friends remembered the event like I did and immediately took my side. That's what girlfriends are for.
Gale Berkowitz writes, "Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our female friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis." She cites a UCLA study on friendships among women, which reports that women respond to stress differently than men. Women produce hormones, which make us actually seek one another out to "tend and befriend" rather than the male stress response of "fight and flight."
The Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they develop physical ailments as they age, and the more likely they are to be leading a joyful life.
So there it is, scientific proof that women need women and that spending time together is good for us.
Jennifer Louden, in The Woman's Comfort Book, suggests women should ask themselves the following questions regarding friendship:
Who do I call when I'm down?
Who energizes me?
Who do I like to play with?
Who would I call in a crisis?
Who would bring me food if I was sick?
Who would I give my house key to?
The answers you give are clues to your nurturing network.
Another set of questions:
Who makes me feel tired?
Who causes me to have tension in my jaw or a stomach full of flutters?
Who do I find myself breathing shallowly around?
The answers are clues to your toxic relationships.
The rest is simple. Spend more time with the life-givers and less time with the energy-drainers.
Today, I celebrate energy-giving friendships among women ... where we can talk for hours and never run out of things to say; where we can ask each other, "do you think it's menopause or am I just always this snappish?"; where we can commiserate about men and children and what's wrong with society; where we can trust that our tears, our laughter and our occasional inappropriate words are going to be heard in the spirit intended; where we are given the "just-right gifts" that our friend just knew we needed; where we can compare parenting techniques, recipes, work and body issues -- and wonder of wonders, live longer and stronger because of it.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a writer and pastor. This article is written in honor of L.P. and her amazing circle of friends.
* That LP....that's me! That amazing circle of friends....that's you!*