A woman in one of my blogging forums reached out to me recently. She sent me a sweet, short message simply saying she enjoyed my blog. I was flattered and surprised and I quickly messaged her back to say thank you.
Later when she shared some of her own work in the forum I became an instant fan of her writing. Laura is funny, she’s gutsy, she’s honest, and she has heart. She is totally my kind of person. We’ve now formed the foundation of a friendship that I’m genuinely excited about, but the reason I’m telling you all of this is because it almost didn’t happen. This was very nearly a story with a different ending.
What I didn’t know when Laura initially reached out to me was that she couldn’t stand me. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but something about me drove her nuts. So she did what most women would not, and she reached out to me. Instead of quietly brewing any negative feelings she decided to squash them instead.
She wrote about the experience and our interaction. She said:
“It wasn’t too long ago that I joined a blogger forum. There was a woman in there, and I just couldn’t stand her. If you had asked I would not have been able to tell you why. But here is what I knew:
She was beautiful. She was so vocal in the group. Everything she wrote was so clever and witty. Her blog was so good, and I hated it. She had her crap together, and I felt like a mess standing up next to her. I seriously couldn’t deal. Until the thought occurred to me, “Is my ego so fragile that I am the bar which every woman stands against??”
The answer: yes.
So I did something I have rarely done when I’ve felt like this: I reached out to her. I reached out to her in an effort to calm the jealous-eyed dragon inside of me. I reached out to her because I thought maybe she wasn’t all bad, and I had heart improving to work on. I told her how great I thought her work was, and how I enjoy reading her blog.
She was so gracious to me.
Then, in a twist of God and fate, after I posted an essay from this blog in the previously mentioned forum, she was so supportive. I cried when I read her reaction to my work. I cried partially because her words were so incredibly kind but more so because I almost missed out on having her support. I almost killed the potential of reaching across the aisle because I thought my false self might not be able to handle it.
This happens too often. I think we are groomed for this kind of madness…
But what if I could look at my friends, my sister, my mother, my women and say, “Get it girl! You do you, and do it how you need to! I am here to cheer you on. I have only these two hands to dig in with you and clap for you. May my voice become sore from screaming your praise!”
What if we could get into this formation? What if we threw away all of those tape recorders?
I’m tired of hating other people in order to love myself.
This is not easy work. This is brave, gritty, wild work. It requires getting more than messy. It requires getting hurt. it requires taking the scrapes, punches, kicks to the ego, and letting them pulse, bleed, and heal. It requires really knowing who you are in the most primal of ways…”
This is just an excerpt from that post, but go ahead. Read the whole thing.
Did you read it all? Are you standing on your desk and clapping with me yet? Are you listening to Beyoncé’s Formation while you imagine an all-women’s flash mob dance scene? Because I am.
The bravery, honesty, and gumption with which she is approaching this issue gets me fired up in the best way.
Ladies, this is major.
WHAT IF we quit comparing?
What if we quit measuring our bodies, our homes, our children, our friendships, our art, our marriages, even our giftings and callings against the woman standing next to us? What if we delighted in our differences? What if we celebrated each other’s victories instead of became threatened by them?
What if we did the hard and holy work of taking responsibility for our own insecurities? I mean, what would even happen?
Magic would happen.
The thing is, when these ugly feelings of jealousy or resentment pop up (and they will), we can choose to either entertain them or to squash them. Only one of these options feels good. Only one option is freeing. The other one becomes like a poison, infecting not just our own hearts, but it trickles down from relationship to relationship until it starts to fester.
Ladies, let’s not fester.
Lets make magic happen instead. Let’s roll up our sleeves, get over ourselves, and do the gritty, wild work of actually supporting each other.