Monday, June 16, 2014

Female Friendships: Salve to the Wounded Soul


In my first-ever guest blogger series, I've asked writers to discuss one of the questions found at the end of my book, When Others Shuddered: Eight Women Who Refused to Give Up. Today's question is about Amanda Berry Smith.  Thank you to these fellow friends and writers for participating! Enjoy this first response from talented fiction writer and editor, Teryn O'Brien.

Amanda Smith felt completely alone following the death of her baby, Will. At that very moment, God sent a friend to give her needed money. Why are women’s friendships so crucial? How have friends ministered to you in times of need?

Maybe I’m weird, but I have always seen female friendships as just as essential as a male love interest. In junior high, I remember how so many girls would easily throw away their friendships or betrayed girl friends just to be with the guy they wanted. I’ve wondered many times if they regretted it later or just stabbed other girls in the back during their climb to marital bliss.

Call me crazy, or just call me loyal, but when I was in junior high I remember making a vow that I would never let a guy get between me and a girl friend. To this day, I’ve never compromised my deep friendships for a man, even when it’s been a struggle to do so. I don’t have regrets in this area of my life (although I have plenty of regrets, I can assure you!). A friend is a friend.

Women’s friendships are important. They are vital to this mess we call life. When I don’t  talk to my friends, I immediately start feeling an ache in my heart for that deep, abiding fellowship only women can offer. Women can understand me in ways men never will (no matter how great men are!). Women offer relational connection I could never quite receive if I was only focused on a man.

So far, I’ve been having a rather rough year. I can be honest when I say I’m not sure how I’ve made it through this year with my faith intact except for the loyal women I know who’ve prayed for me and supported me in ways only women can do. I don’t know what I would do without my deep friendships, for friendships offer a salve to the wounded soul. Friendships—true, deep, loyal friendships—help us get through this life when we feel as if, alone, we might not be able to take any more steps forward.

"Still, when you find a truly loyal, loving friend
who will walk by your side throughout life,
you know you’ve got a blessing."

Just recently, I hit rock bottom, and I had several women friends call me, give me advice, offer encouragement, and help fight my spiritual battles through prayer and love. These women told me, “You cannot give up. You are going to get through this. You are a wonderful woman of God, and He’s going to use these pains in your heart in ways you can’t imagine.” They offered me a fresh perspective when I had completely lost it over the last few months.

True friendship calls for honesty and vulnerability. For both people to feel like they can share the wounded parts of their souls and still be loved. For both to feel as if they can share joys and triumphs with each other without jealousy and comparison. For both to make a commitment to each other that they will be truth-tellers of love in each other’s life.

False friendships cease after you’ve revealed brokenness or honesty or pain. False friendships cease when you have happiness and the other is jealous. Over the past few years, I’ve had a lot of relational hurt in this area, and I’ve learned that a friendship that isn’t based on unconditional loyalty and love on both ends just isn’t a friendship worth investing my time and effort into.

Still, when you find a truly loyal, loving friend who will walk by your side throughout life (or at least a part of it, for some friendships fade naturally over time), you know you’ve got a blessing. I’ve had conflict with some of my best friends, where we both had to tell each other some hard things or didn’t agree with each other. A true friendship grows during conflict. A true friendship helps us see the world in ways we wouldn’t have before.

I thank God every day that I have women in my life who are friends for life. We will be calling each other up, visiting each other, and living life together across the world, until we all pass from it. This is something I will never take for granted, because to find friendship like that is a rare thing, worth more than anything in this life.

Teryn O’Brien works in marketing with various religious imprints of Penguin Random House. She spends her free time roaming the mountains and writing a series of novels. She's of Irish descent, which is probably where she gets her warrior spirit of fighting for the broken, the hurting, the underdog. Read her blog about Identity at www.terynobrien.com, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.


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