Through the big glass window, I watched my daughter in her first dance class. It’s like going to the aquarium, except the fish are more beautiful and they smile at you as they swim by.

On that very first day she made a friend. They danced and held hands and made each other laugh.  Tiny girls in tights and pink shoes and smiles.

Watching your kid make a friend is one of the best experiences in life.

We were excited to go back the next week and see her new friend. This second week, though, a new girl came. My daughter’s friend and the new girl hit it off.

So now I watch, through that giant window I wished would shrink to pinhole-size, as my daughter’s friend and this new girl clasp their four hands together, spin around and dance. They have a great time; truly enjoying each other. And I watched my daughter watch. From the side, she sees their joy and friendship bloom. I witness her move forward, asking so politely to join in the dance. Again. Again. Again, she asks, “Can I dance too?” Can I please hold hands and join in your circle?

The two other girls look at each other, because they are connecting and they don’t want to let anyone else in. They dance around some more and they see out of the corner of their eyes, my daughter still watching them… she’s too new to this friendship game. She doesn’t know how to hide her desire – to look busy or confident or just-fine-being-by-myself-thanks.

I hold my breath. Wishing. Praying. Not just praying that they would include her, but for her heart’s confidence and courage.

And eventually they did let her enter their circle. Eventually they decided it could be fun.

But as women, especially women, we have to be so aware. We value connection so deeply. We value being seen and known and making friends. We value it and we need it so much – that when we make a friend, we don’t see anything else. We just see that new friend and are so excited!  We forget that when you make a really beautiful, great connection with someone…

I can guarantee you, there is at least one if not five other women in the room whose gaping hole for connection is getting ripped open again. I can guarantee you that there are women in that room who just got punched in the gut seeing your connection with someone else.

Because we want deep friendship so much and it just points out again that we don’t have it. We don’t have it. And it hurts. Everytime.

This is just one of the reasons we suffer at each others’ hands.  This is one of the reasons so many women say they are not into women’s stuff – an event or group just for women. The push and pull of relational desire can be claustrophobic, for sure. And, it feels much more modern and cool to say we are just not into all that women’s stuff – men are simpler, etc etc… I’m beyond that.

Maybe you are… or maybe, like me, it just rubs you raw to be in a room of people and watch others connect. Avoiding those situations sounds better than enduring the burns.

The desire for connection will always be with us. It won’t serve me to pretend it’s not important.

*****

I continue to sit here, trying to find an answer… trying to find a simple, heart-felt, insightful way for us to all renew female friendships… but there is not one. Not in my head.

Because I will go to a meeting today and watch people connect. Later someone will watch me run into an old friend and receive a great hug and connection.

Jealousy will grip me and grip her. And we will each have to wrestle it to the floor – each of us, each time.

I guess all I can do is recognize my true enemies are not the other women, but the thoughts of bitterness, jealousy and fear.  I can have the courage to attack the scarier enemies of doubt and loneliness, and not the other human beings doing the best they can.

and I can speak words of courage to my daughters to try again and realize that we are all the same.

Try again to find hands to clasp and when you see someone on the outside, invite them in.

-Nicole

Prayer: God, you know my heart and the longings, desires, hopes I carry around each day. Would you please help me use those things to help others? I don’t want to be a black-hole-of-need all the time. I want to be the opposite – a light with the courage to give love and hope. God, be with my daughters as they navigate these very difficult friendship years. They are your daughters too and I trust them with you. Please take care of their hearts and show me how to speak words of courage to them as they make and lose and make friends. Thank you.