By Beth K. Vogt
I believe a girl needs her girlfriends.
When my husband and I were novice newlyweds, we moved across country from Maryland to California, thousands of miles from family and friends. When your husband’s in the military, you go to the assigned duty station – no arguing.
One night, homesickness and loneliness overwhelmed me. I stood in our tiny kitchen, crying, and said, “I want a friend.”
My husband’s reply? “I’ll be your friend.”
“No—” I choked back a sob. “—I mean a girlfriend.”
Once I had daughters of my own, I encouraged them in their friendships, telling them, “You need your girlfriends.”
With the best of friends there’s no competition – just treasured “What? You too?!” moments, interlaced with laughter and listening and mutual encouragement.
Girlfriends are the best.
Which is why my failed friendships haunt me.
No matter how much I believe that being friends with other women has saved my sanity, shaped my personality, and helped me be a better version of me, a few friendships – once valued relationships – were destroyed by hurt feelings or misunderstandings or sometimes because healthier, more respectful boundaries needed to be established.
Thoughts of “Could I have done more?” and “Was it something I said?” or “Was it something I didn’t say?” rear up months, even years, later. I wonder if I should call or text or Instant Message my former friend to try to fix what failed.
I know the adage that some people come into your life for a season and that their departure, while painful, is inevitable.
I’m okay with that seasons-and-people-change belief. Maybe there’s a new job. Or a move to another state. Or someone gets married. Or divorced. Circumstances cause the dynamics to shift in a friendship. Nothing negative occurs – life just happens. External forces alter the relationship.
But then there are the changes because I hurt my friend. Or something they said or did hurts me. And no matter how hard we try, we can’t talk it out. Or maybe my friend won’t talk it out. Our closeness is misshapen by distance and silence … and the friendship ends. Even exchanging “I forgive yous” can’t bridge the gap between us because, let’s be honest, forgiveness doesn’t always put everything back in place. You can forgive someone, but that doesn’t mean you always trust them the way you did before.
A once thriving friendship? Run off the rails.
There are times I’ve thought, “I’m no good at this girlfriend thing. Why do I keep trying?”
I keep trying because I’ve been blessed – and “blessed” is exactly the word I want to use here – with some of the best friends a woman could ever have. The kind of friends who are there for a long “just want to talk” phone call. Who will drop everything and come running when my world falls apart. Who don’t mind when I ugly cry. Who help me remember who I am and what I believe in.
But I’m not perfect. I’ve failed my friends … and they’ve failed me. And sometimes, no matter how hard I try, no matter how many prayers I pray, no matter how much counsel I seek, I can’t fix what’s broken. I’ve learning to accept that, and the grief that comes with the loss of a friend.
Until the next time that I think of that friend … what was … and wonder what we could have done differently.
Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A Christy Award winner, as well as an ACFW Carol Award winner, Beth is the author of nine contemporary romance novels and novellas. Her first women’s fiction novel,Things I Never Told You, releases May 2018 from Tyndale House Publishers. Connect with Beth on her website.
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