Life without friends is poor indeed.
I am an introvert, but even so, I can look back on my life and see the impact of other women on it. On me. There are the little things, like how they wear their clothes or decorate their living rooms - the big things, like how they parent even when they have a prodigal. These women are my friends and I am rich indeed, even though sometimes between us we can barely afford the time or expense to meet over coffee.
I noticed it when I left the medical workforce when my first son was born. The ladies I had worked with were happily (as far as I could tell) married, but it was break room culture to nitpick and belittle their spouses while bonding over lukewarm coffee. As I started to hang out with other nursing mothers during church services, I heard a different tone. They didn’t always see eye to eye with their husbands either, but the undercurrent of debasing condescension wasn’t there. These women chose to respect their husbands - not only to their faces, but behind their backs. It wasn’t oblivion, it wasn’t resignation. These wives had clearly made the commitment to treat their husbands with honor even when they left their dirty clothes on the floor, tracked mud into the house, or fed the kids candy at bedtime.
These women invited my rabble over on a muddy day and didn’t hold it against me when they had to hose them down to get the earthworms out of their hair before they were clean enough to take a shower in their white bathroom (true story).
These women once set me up a whole solo day with a massage, hair cut, pedicure, shopping, and a date with my husband - and took all four of my young boys I had them for the whole day just to bless me.
These women came over and helped fold laundry and wash dishes and vacuum when I had a newborn (several times).
These women have cooked many meals for my large family.
These women have shared their fears, joys, struggles, and vulnerability with me. And let me do the same.
These women have anonymously put an envelope of cash in my car at Christmas (ok, it could have been men, but I’m guessing the guys at least didn’t act alone).
These women have given me an instant pot to borrow and then wouldn’t take it back. And also good recipe suggestions.
These women have offered to keep my rambunctious young boys when I had to take another for a hospital stay.
These women have offered countless rides to my children when I couldn’t see schlepping infants and wheelchairs out on snowy days.
These women have let me cry on their shoulders. Or cried on mine.
These women helped clean and paint my house and then (finally) successfully sold it.
These women have heard me put my foot in my mouth - and they’ve heard me sing 😳 - and yet still listen proactively when I try to sound coherent.
These women have gifted me beautiful works of art they have created (and I certainly couldn’t have!)
These women have modeled beauty - inward and outward - and I am surrounded by the phenomenon of Christian females whose beauty grows more refined with age. Truly. They do. Grace affects more than just the spirit.
These women have occasionally let me know my kids needed discipline because they loved us both enough to risk the offense. They also notice when my kids do well and tell me so we can rejoice together.
They have invited me over even when their house was messy and their kids were misbehaving and their cupboards were nearly bare. And I noticed and loved them all the more for it and tried to return the favor.
These women have encouraged me- and sometimes convicted me - to spend time praising and petitioning the God whom they know hears and responds.
These women have prayed for me, with me, and over me even on days I barely could myself.
These women know God better than most - probably all - the leaders of the world. But they have, and are, and will raise the next generation of leaders. They are imperfect, they get offended, they get hurt, they get cancer and migraines, they get into debt and into arguments with their mother-in-laws.
But they have also learned to admit their shortcomings, to forgive, to accept scars as marks of growth, to seek treatment and learn to smile through pain, to keep honest accounts, and still set a place of honor for the matron of the family at the holiday table.
They are my friends. They are so precious.
Today, I am thankful to be part of the hood.