Welcome to chapter six of our online bookclub!
This summer, we’ve been slowly working through the chapters of Sally Clarkson’s book, Girls’ Club.
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Let’s dive right in to chapter six of Girls’ Club!
Dating Your Friends
The theme of chapter six can be summed up in a single phrase: initiating friendship.
I thoroughly enjoy Joy Clarkson’s youthful and idealistic perspectives on what it means to initiate and cultivate a truly meaningful friendship.
Joy begins the chapter with a quote attributed to A. A. Milne (the man who created the Winnie-the-Pooh stories):
You can’t stay in your corner of the Forrest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
Joy adds a personal observation,
We all long for close relationships. But often than not, we languish in loneliness, wishing someone would come along, initiate a relationship, pursue us, understand us. And this is not unreasonable. But it is good to remember that we all want to be pursued in friendship. Isn’t the most sensible thing, then, to be proactive? One of the most rewarding decisions I’ve made is to be an initiator.”Joy Clarkson, Girls’ Club
One of the life lessons loneliness has taught me about friendship is that “takers” are always empty on the inside.
That is: as long as I’m in “taking” posture, waiting for someone to come along and be my friend and make me feel less lonely, I will continue to fill the empty sting of isolation.
I think becoming an initiator comes with a sort of identity shift: you begin to see yourself as a conductor of friendships, a generous host, a conduit for togetherness. Beginning to see yourself this way becomes an incredibly rewarding part of your identity, and it moves you from a place of passive longing to active pursuit of friendships.”Joy Clarkson, Girls’ Club
When Friends Don’t Respond
In an ideal world, everyone would live fully into her capacity to love well and communities would grow strong: full of strong women loving well.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always what reality looks like.
Every corner of the world- yours and mine- is filled with women who are imperfect, different from one another, and who are each on their various journeys (hopefully) toward wholeness.
There will be times when you will invest in a friendship, and that friend simply does not- or even cannot- respond.
I’ve experienced this numerous times, especially as a pastor’s wife.
Reaching out to another person can feel vulnerable; when she seems to “reject” the offer of your time and, in essence, yourself, the natural reaction is to withdraw or even build walls.
Don’t make the mistake of withdrawing into isolation.
—> You may have to release your expectations of certain people in your life; sometimes your friends or family simply are not in the emotional place to be able to love you back in the ways you want or need them to.
When you experience this, give herself permission to keep loving and living well:
- Love well by investing what you can when you can, and choosing to let go of expectations.
Focus on building close friendships with women who are also growing in their emotional, spiritual, and mental health. Quite simply, you cannot be close friends with everyone.
- Live well by investing in your own emotional, spiritual, mental and physical health.
Truly, the best way to “find” close friendships is to grow into your personal wholeness as a Christian woman.
Healthy women connect with other healthy women.
More than anyone else, Sally Clarkson has shaped my view of personal growth as a woman, and taught me (via her blog, books, and podcasts) how to really invest in healthy friendships.
Here are a few resources I’ve gleaned from Sally, and other Christian writers:
- Picking Safe People (article by Dr. Henry Cloud)
- Give-and-Take in Relationships (video by Dr. John Townsend)
- Safe People (book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend)
I’d love to hear your takeaway from chapter six.
- Do you feel like you’re an initiator in friendship?
- Do you give up easily when people don’t respond the way you expected them to?
- What step can you take toward becoming a “conduit of togetherness” for the women in your life?
Here’s to living & loving well-