For the last year, one of my main prayers, one of the ones I've prayed regularly and fervently, is "God, please bring me some strong Christian girlfriends." God has been so faithful to provide me with a "yes" answer to this prayer this year! I'd love to encourage you if you're seeking an uplifting, supportive with a fellow Christian sister, that, yes, these relationships do exist!
Why do they feel so hard to find, though? Why is there a "good ole boys" network and not a "good ole gals" network (aside from the fact that few of us would like to be called "good old gals" anyway!)? According to www.catalyst.org, women held only 4.6% of Fortune 500 company CEO roles as of April 2015.
I believe that the statistical evidence that it remains more difficult for women as a gender to advance to the top ranks of business and professional organizations has bred within women an unhealthy mentality of competition with each other. When we as women think that there are only a few spots for us in leadership, we begin to view our sisters as those who must be kept down in order for us to advance. Instead of networking with other women, we may downplay their accomplishments in the hope that we will be selected for one of the limited leadership positions that is open to females. In refusing to help and support our sisters, we end up perpetuating the very “good ole boys” network that we are trying to overcome.
We do this in our personal lives, too. Single ladies, who can identify with feeling like you had to be the cutest, have the best clothes, or the best car to attract the one single man that it seemed like everyone in town was fighting over?! Or have you ever gone to a fitness class and felt the urge to "outdo" the woman next to you? What IS this thing? This jealousy that overtakes us and makes us want to battle it out when we could bond instead?
As a gender, there are three ways in which we can serve ourselves individually by better serving one another: mentorship, accountability, and honesty.
Mentorship: Let’s start by discussing the positive impact that we as women can have as mentors to and mentees of each other. In the professional world, advancement often has much more to do with connections and politics than it does with skill. Mentoring a woman who is just beginning her career with your organization provides a great service to her in that you can offer her knowledge about the inner workings of the office and the attitudes of the current leadership. My mentor at my last job has become one of my very closest friends! We have been able to lift each other up, support each other, bounce ideas off of each other, and share many smiles and lots of laughter over the last nearly five years. In the spiritual realm, too, we women can have beautiful mentor / mentee relationships. I think about my grandmother, who passed away in 2008, on a near daily basis. Her faith was so strong, yet I was SO BUSY when she was still alive that I missed out on the depth of relationship that she could have offered to me. If you find a woman who is willing to pour into you spiritually, treasure that! And then, in turn, find someone into whom YOU can pour your wisdom.
Accountability: Another way in which we as women can be of service to each other is by offering each other accountability. The philosopher Thomas Paine said that “. . . a body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.” I encourage you to find a woman you trust, and then share with her your five biggest goals for the next three months. Give her permission to hold you accountable to those goals. Accountability can sustain you through some of life’s toughest challenges and may be just the push you need to help you reach your goals. A little over a year ago, I did a three-day juice detox. Now, please understand that I am a three meal a day kind of gal, so this three-day fast was far outside of my comfort zone. Thankfully, I shared what I was doing with a girlfriend, who encouraged me several times each day. Mid-way through the fast, when I told her just how much I wanted to go home and devour a big plate of cooked food, she encouraged me to finish what I had started with these words: “You can do it! You’ll be so proud of yourself.” By day three of the fast, I felt awesome. On day two, my body was still in shock from eliminating caffeine, but by the end of day three, I felt so good that it was several weeks before I began having coffee in the mornings again. Had I not had the accountability of my friend, I never would have known how great it feels to kick the caffeine habit.
Honesty: Finally, we as women can serve each other by being honest with each other. We need to do this with love, of course, but we should pull no punches when confronting our sisters on damaging behaviors in which they might be engaged. When I was struggling with anorexia, I had a girlfriend pull me aside and tell me how concerned she was about me. She noticed that I wasn’t eating, that I seemed obsessed with exercise, and that I was rapidly dropping weight. For the next year, I hated her for calling me out on my eating disorder. Then, when I reached the end of my ability to deal with the disorder alone, I realized she was one of the few real friends that I had. She was willing to risk me being upset with her to tell me the honest truth. I had gone too far, and she was there to show me that and then to support me in recovery. She was brave in speaking the truth to me. We can do a great service to each other by refusing to sweep problems under the rug, but instead helping each other to confront issues head on. Then, we can work together to find solutions to our problems.
Honesty, accountability and mentoring are three ways in which we can begin to serve other women. When we help other women advance, we promote ourselves as a gender, and we chip away at the glass ceiling that must in time shatter. Instead of envying each other’s accomplishments, let’s celebrate them!
What other ways can you think of that we women can support one another? Leave a comment below!
If this post was of value to you, please share with your friends, mentors, and accountability partners!
Finally, if you'd love to be supported by a community of people who are aiming to love themselves and others well, hop on over to my Facebook group The Powerful Love Movement. Simply request to join, and I'll add you right away! I post regular inspiration there.