Female friendships are important. We listen to one another, celebrate together, gossip and complain together. We hate the same co-workers, love the same celebrities, become impassioned over the same injustices. We babysit each others’ kids, encourage each others’ dreams, and sit in silence with a warm casserole and/or tub of ice cream when we mourn each others’ losses. Our girlfriends are cut from another cloth than our husbands or family, and their significance in our lives cannot be ignored or replaced.
But not all of them last forever, at least not in the same way.
People change, circumstances change, cities change, and the ebb and flow of friendship must be respected as a natural part of life. Moving on doesn’t always mean the friendship ends, but setting people free to grow away from ourselves is the kind of selflessness friendship sometimes requires.
March is Women’s History Month, and it’s important for all us women to recognize that while our collective history and accomplishments are being celebrated this month, our personal histories matter too. The lessons and the experiences and the people who made us who we are today continue to shape history as we pass our wisdom on to the next generation. Our female friendships are some of the most impactful influences in our becoming, and all of them matter, no matter how long each season lasts.
While I haven’t had the same best friend journey with me through elementary spelling bees, middle school dances, high school football games, college graduation, careers, marriage, motherhood, and beyond, I feel immensely privileged to have experienced all those milestones with many friends over the years.
To honor my lifelong best friends — or, perhaps more aptly — my lifetime of best friends:
Rachel, my first and easiest best friend; all we needed was to cross the street and play like only children can. She taught me to stuff my bra, made up funny poses to do off the diving board at her pool, and choreographed endless pop dances that I never could execute as well as she did. She gave me years of laughter in the most formative years of my life, and I am forever grateful.
Carrie and Kristi, my favorite people to fight with all through middle school. I always thought I wanted a sister until I met them, then I realized I couldn’t handle that kind of drama. Our ceremonial burning of all the mean notes we had written each other is still one of the most radical acts of forgiveness and peacemaking I have ever experienced. They were the truest, most loyal friends I had ever had, and maybe still today, because I’m pretty confident no one I know now would put up with the crap I put them through.
To Carol, my high school best friend who made me the best version I could have been at 17. She was the weirdest, goofiest, most radically accepting friend I have ever had. During a time when most teenagers were building walls and closing off friend groups, she stood wide open to allow anyone and everyone in. Her house parties were a model of inclusion and acceptance, as well as the best place to play Jenga with our feet. She made me better and wiser and funnier and kinder by letting me hang around, and I think everyone who knows her would probably say the same.
Ashley, my first married best friend, one of the only people who felt “like” me when we were 20 and chaperoning youth trips while our peers were going to frat parties. Starting a family as young as we did, while we were still growing up ourselves, was hard, but her dedication, faithfulness, and always-silliness taught me how to choose to grow together through marriage and motherhood without losing myself in the process. She invited me into her family when I was still learning what family meant, and I will never forget the lessons I gleaned from her.
Carla, my “adulting” best friend, who encourages my dreams, champions my calling, and stewards my heart with care. She listens and values my opinion, is honest to call me out when I’m wrong, reminds me who I am, and helps me see goodness when all I feel is hurt. She and I have experienced beauty and miracles together, as well as heartache, loss, confusion, and fear, but we’ve weathered each season and learned grace in the process.
While all of my friendships have had seasons of intimacy and space, I am learning to embrace and be grateful not just for the good times we have had together but also for the goodness they planted in me. Every good piece of me is connected to a piece of each of them, and they are written into my history. This March, take an inventory of all the women who have been a part of your story and becoming the amazing woman you are. Your history is our history, and we belong to each other.