Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Three Isn't A Crowd: Raising our Daughters Well

Earlier this fall I spoke to a room of 100 women on the topic of vulnerability and friendship.  Vulnerability and friendship.  Two words that I am quickly learning... Just. Don't. Go. Together.

After I spoke, I received feedback from nearly a dozen women ranging in age from 20 years to 50 years.  Ironically enough, in spite of the age difference, I heard such similar things --

Things like,

"I thought it was just me!"

"I've been fighting these shame lies my whole life."

"I worry I'll never find those 2 am friendships."

"I've been convinced something is wrong with me."

Women in groves were sharing that my words had struck home and hit HARD.  I heard from others that there were tissue boxes being passed around the room.  So much emotion and so many tears. Embarrassingly, many of the tears came from me while on stage.  I'm not kidding-- some sweet woman actually climbed on stage to hug me just so I could pull myself together. 

I share all of this very humbly, because truly -- these words weren't mine.  The lessons I've been learning on vulnerability and friendship have been years in the making and I still have so far to go.  I share this because I'm realizing that it isn't just me.  Surprise, surprise-- I'm not the only crazy one still trying to navigate this wild ride of women friendships. 

Something powerful happened in the room the morning that I spoke and I just haven't been able to shake the pit in my stomach and the voices in my head.  The ones that are SCREAMING that a dialogue needs to be started among women on HOW we fix our broken hearts. 

Because I. AM. DONE. with the inner monologue I have with myself that perpetually goes something like this -- "Brittany, you aren't worthy of authentic friendship.  You aren't good enough.  Nobody wants you." 

Sound at all familiar?

I'm done believing the lie that tells me that if "Three's a crowd.... then I am that crowd".

Are you ready to be done believing this lie too?

This week I received a phone call that reminded me of a blog post I wrote earlier this year entitled The words I'll Never Use In Friendship Again.  Truly, it was probably writing this original post and hearing from so many of YOU that has gotten my thoughts rolling on this topic of friendship to begin with.

The phone call went something like this:

Mom Friend- "My daughter just came unglued.  She says she plays alone at recess and eats lunch by herself.  It's been happening most of the school year."

(I slyly glance at my seemingly innocent 7-year-old daughter out of the corner of my eye...)

Me- "Hmmm.... is that so?" I call to my daughter... "Sweetie...could you play with Layla at school tomorrow?  Sounds like she's feeling pretty sad and left out."

My daughter- (who is now in complete hysterics -- SEE how emotionally driven this topic is?) cries to me, "Mom, I asked my other friends if we could play with Layla too and they said, "Sure, why don't you just break up with us?"

Holy hell. 

What!?!  These girls are SEVEN. 

"Why don't you just break up with us?"

SEVEN YEARS OLD and these are the playground conversations they are having regarding friendship. 

I wanted to die when I heard this. 

And here's the thing -- let me be really clear...While, I am not at all naïve to the fallen sin nature of kids... I really and truly believe that their words and their inclusive attitudes are stemming from their own places of insecurity. 

It goes like this:

Friend A loves Friend B.

Friend B wants to add in Friend C to create a little trio.

Friend A sees friend C as a threat to the duo so she says, "No way.  I'll shame friend B so she doesn't leave me."

AND SO a cycle of loneliness and heartache is started at age SEVEN for friend C.

This cycle is one that will likely carry her through the awkward ages of junior high and high school, into the self discovery age of college and on into adulthood. 

It is one that will likely find her in a room as a young mom with 100 other women, passing the kleenex boxes and wondering why she have never felt worthy of authentic friendship.  Wondering why she still feels unlovable and wondering why she has felt like this for as far back as the playground days of elementary school.

And ironically, if you are still following me... Friend A and Friend B will likely end up in their own respective rooms of weepy women too.

My point is this... it starts YOUNG and it starts now.

What we are teaching our daughters about themselves and their goodness and their worthiness for true, authentic friendship matters. 

What we are teaching our girls right now about kindness and speaking life into others -- it has meaning.

The way our daughters see US as adult women handling friendships -- it is shaping them

It might mean (gasp!), removing inclusive words like "best friend" from our vocabulary and just deciding right now to teach our daughters that three is not a crowd.  Not even four or five.  We can teach our daughters that a village of friends and cheerleaders is the best way to get through life.

Something has got to change. 

As mothers of daughters, it is going to have to start with healing our own insecurities, doing the hard work of healing our own wounds, while simultaneously teaching our daughters not to repeat the same dysfunctional patterns.
It's going to take a whole lot of prayer and continuing to seek God's heart for my own healing.  It's a place I've seen so much growth in but I know I'm not done seeing the redemption take place in healing the shame lies that I've believed since I was a little girl.  The lies that tell me I'm not good enough or that I'm not worthy of being loved by others. 

It's going to take bravely dialoguing with other women -- other moms, on how we can teach our daughter's to be their authentic, amazing selves while still lifting their girl friends up in spite of unique differences and inevitable conflict that will happen throughout these formative years. 

I am bound and determined to start this work because I desperately want to see healing and redemption among the sweet woman of my own generation. And, I want be a part of stopping this cycle of insecurity in my own daughter's generation.  I can't just sit back and watch the patterns repeat themselves. 

I don't want my own daughter to find herself next to your daughter in 25 years saying for the very first time, "Hey, you too!?".  I'm convinced that if we start praying and intentionally battling now for the hearts of these sweet girls that there can be another way. 

So, I guess the question is... who else is with me? ;)
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  1. I loved your post! If you haven't read these already, I really recommend three books by Brene Brown: "I Thought It Was Just Me", "Daring Greatly", and "The Gifts Of Imperfection". Some of what you wrote reminded me about these books, and also her wonderful TED talks on vulnerability and shame. Thanks for sharing!
    Bridget Hales @ HotTeaTravelAndThyme.Com

    1. I just finished Daring Greatly ;) The other two are on my list to read! Can't wait to read your post on your road trip to Denver! XO