I love women. There is a universal bond between us that has its own language. We all package it differently, but deep down we understand that a great haircut or a few pieces of sea salted dark chocolate really can make us feel better, even if just temporarily.
We recognize the irony of wiping down our kitchen counters 10 times a day trying to control life even when our bathrooms haven’t been cleaned in weeks.
A while back I wrote a post about girlfriends, which had more than a million views. The comments and stories taught me that women crave authentic, deep relationships with each other, yet our insecurities and fear of being judged often get in the way.
This morning I had the privilege of seeing women at their best.
For the past year I have met with a small group of ladies who get together weekly for a Bible study in my friend’s home. These are not your ‘Have-it-all-together’ kind of ladies. They are real women with real struggles who are doing the best they can.
My friend, Michelle, has been battling a condition for 8 years that has her in periods of intense, chronic pain. Can you imagine 8 years of pain? She is understandably exhausted in body, mind and spirit, yet continues to push through with a smile on her face and a determination to not be defeated.
When she said that she simply didn’t have the physical energy to come to our small group this week, we understood the struggle behind her words. Simply cooking dinner for her family uses up everything she’s got.
My friend, Trisha, e-mailed our group suggesting we meet across town at Michelle’s house this week. I secretly wondered if Michelle would even want us in her home. However, that email was a spark that turned into something beautiful.
We showed up today at Michelle’s house IN OUR PAJAMAS because…Who wants a bunch of women in cute outfits in your home when you are in pain, right?
But my girlfriends didn’t just wear their jammies. They had their heads filled with ridiculous curlers and were wearing those oversized-cushy slippers not meant for the outdoors. They looked fabulous!
Each woman brought her own cleaning supplies too because…
Do you know what 12 women with cleaning supplies can do?
Deep clean a house in 30 minutes.
So as these curler and jammie-laden women got out of their cars with Swiffers, buckets, and feather dusters, my heart began to melt, because women get it.
A clean house when you are absolutely exhausted can turn your day around.
A gentleman walking his dog stared at us in the driveway and said, “I’m not even going to ask.” We laughed.
As we went inside our friend’s home, everybody scattered. No cleaning plan was necessary because as women we already knew.
One woman immediately began stripping beds and starting the laundry. Another few headed straight for the master bathtub.
Several women were stocking the refrigerator with dinners for the week.
I saw a friend pull out new board games and place them on the breakfast table for their children, while another took measurements to fix some broken curtains.
We wrote out verses and words of encouragement on colorful index cards and taped them on mirrors, cabinet doors, and bedside tables…surrounding this home with encouragement.
To keep Michelle from trying to help, we gave her a deep tissue massage while her house was being cleaned. She closed her eyes and moaned as the burning sensations through her limbs lessened. As her pain fled, the checklist of things she deeply desired to do for her family got done.
Women understand. We need each other because life gets hard.
After we finished cleaning, we circled together giddy with excitement to pray.
One woman summed it up perfectly,
“This is the most joyful day I can remember.”
It truly was. Every woman there was invigorated and filled with delight from simply cleaning our friend’s home.
But that would never have happened without one thing:
a woman being vulnerable enough to humbly allow us in to see her dirt.
THAT is what makes this story beautiful. It was her willingness to be real which permitted 12 women the gift of overflowing joy.
Women don’t mind each other’s dirt. We crave the authenticity of it.
We’re wired to connect on a level beyond the superficial, but it requires vulnerability, and that can be scary.
Michelle reminded me of this today.
There is no greater privilege than when a friend welcomes you in just as she is…and just as you are.
Let’s stop striving for an image of perfection, and instead be exceedingly gracious in our judgments of both ourselves and others. THAT invites authentic relationships.
But more than anything, being real with our girlfriends gives us the opportunity to turn each others’ days around, and we need each other to get us through the dirt.
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