For the most part, I grew up as an only child. My younger siblings didn’t come along until I was in middle and high school. Talk about a new start. As a result, I became extremely comfortable doing things by myself. I played with dolls by myself. I came up with games by myself. With the exception of hanging with cousins and the neighborhood kids every now and then playing outside by myself was no issue to me.
If someone asked me to describe my personality, I would say at my best I am an extroverted introvert. The extroversion comes out only when I am comfortable with my surroundings or I am putting forth a great effort to be outgoing in new spaces. I am unashamedly willing to admit that being in my home by myself is my ultimate comfort zone and at has also become the place where most of my evenings and weekends are spent. Nowadays most days I cannot wait to retreat. This is something my friends know and have come to understand.
In and of itself this isn’t a bad thing I didn’t think this was a bad thing. Home is where the heart is right? Wrong. I eventually found out I was terribly wrong. I recently experienced a season where my self-imposed isolation became a detrimental thing as I began to experience a number hardships back to back to back to back to back to back. Yes that many “backs” were necessary were necessary because it didn’t feel as though they were one right after the other. It felt like more like one on top of the other. So when I began to experience these things what do you think was my first line of defense? You already know. Retreat! Being alone was how I had also “figured things out”. It wasn’t until I looked up one day and nearly six months had passed and I was still in retreat mode all alone. And it was my fault.
No the hardships weren’t necessarily my fault but the fact that I thought it was my right to attempt to weather them alone absolutely was. When we look at the cross that Jesus Christ died on it is not only a symbol of our Christian faith but also a depiction of the types of relationships we need to develop and maintain to not just survive but thrive in this life. One wooden beam is vertical, pointing upwards, representing our necessary relationship with God. The second beam that is connected is horizontal. It illustrates the all-important, day-to-day, human-to-human relationships we need in order to truly progress and prosper in this life.
If this were not the case wouldn’t God have created just one human being and left it at that? Instead, he eventually brought Eve to walk alongside Adam. Why? Because it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). In the first days of Creation, God called everything “good” except for this one thing.
So why did I entitle this “Girl Tribes Stand Up!”? Simply because we all need healthy companionship especially when life is coming at you 120 miles per hour downhill and the emergency brake is broken. We need to surround ourselves with other strong, witty, intelligent women that will help us maneuver the curve balls of life. We need supportive women that will hold our arms up when we are in the middle of a battle like Aaron and Hur did for Moses until the battle was won. We also need women with experience like Naomi who helped Ruth navigate through life and start anew after the loss of her husband.
At a time in my life when I felt so alone I didn’t even realize I was already connected to women with these inestimable qualities. I also didn’t realize but even as a child I had developed a set of dangerous and somewhat destructive habits that would follow me into my adulthood. On the surface it probably doesn’t seem that bad but my isolating habits caused me to experience a season that more than likely lasted much longer than it should have.
I said all of that to say you can’t do this life alone. I don’t care how strong you think you are. This is coming straight from the mouth of the “strong friend”. You need your girls. Below I have included some tips to help you maintain your girl tribe whether you’re the strong, independent friend or the outgoing friend that is an open book.
Know and understand that you need your friends. They love you no matter what you are going through.
Be transparent with one another. It’s the only way the relationship is going to truly grow.
Be forgiving when the other messes up. True friendships are hard to come by.
Check in with one another. If you haven’t heard from them in a while, call or send a text.
Let your friends know when you are hurting. They are not mind readers. They can’t help you if you don’t open your mouth.
Offer your assistance. Some people simply do not know how to ask for help.
Look for changes in behavior. If they have disappeared from social media or the social scene this might be a sign.
Set a date. If it has been a while since you have seen each other face-to-face, set a date to meet up for lunch or coffee and do everything in your power not to cancel.
Pull up on her if necessary. Yes I said pull up. If your girl is avoiding you like the plague and you know she has been going through just roll up to her house with a casserole. Everybody opens up over food.
I also want to remind you that “a friend loves at all times and a brother or sister is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). In the same breath, Dear Strong Friend I want to strongly encourage you to let your friends be there for you. Hopefully these tips and my experience with isolation will better help you better navigate through life and your own horizontal relationships.
And last but certainly not least, Girl Tribes Stand Up!