“No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.” – John Donne
Two of my girlfriends and I enjoyed a weekend retreat this past weekend. We went to a little bed-and-breakfast-type place not too far from our homes. I believe that God ordained this particular weekend for us – although it wasn’t planned by us, our weekend away fell on the one year anniversary of the death of our friend, Christina.
At first, one of my friends questioned whether we’d want to go on that particular weekend. She thought it might be sad and painful. I told her, though, that I thought it would be good for us. We were together when Christina passed. It seemed fitting that we be together on the anniversary of her death.
And, if there were tears, well, tears are best shared with friends.
Man was not meant to be alone, an island to himself. Poets know it. God said it.
“It is not good for the man to be alone.” – Genesis 2:18
We were created for fellowship – companionship with God first, our spouses second, then our children, families, and friendship. Even introverts like me need relationships.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring our need for relationships and the importance of investing in the various ones in our lives.
Because our recent weekend retreat is still fresh in my mind, I wanted to start with friendships. It can be so easy, in the busyness of the season of life as a homeschooling mom, to let our relationships with our girlfriends fall to the wayside, but it so important to cultivate these friendships.
The resident donkey at our weekend getaway
Women have something of a reputation for being nasty to each other. We can be jealous, vindictive, and deceitful. However, when we honor each other and cultivate the friendship, deep and lasting bonds of sisterhood are created.
Jesus modeled friendship for us with His “inner circle” relationship with Peter, James, and John. He desired their friendship, their support, and their prayers.
Why are our friendships with our girlfriends so important?
I can talk to my girlfriends about things that my husband doesn’t truly understand simply because he’s a man – and many of these conversations he’d much rather I have with my girlfriends, thank you very much. These conversations help me know when my feelings are normal and when I need to get on my knees before God. I know my close friends will tell me when I’m being crazy or overreacting.
Talking with friends can put our minds at ease about physical symptoms we may be having or encourage us to seek out a doctor’s opinion. They remind us that our kids are normal, we’re not horrible mothers, our husbands aren’t ogres (and neither are theirs), and motherhood is an important and noble calling.
Our girlfriends understand why the Kleenex commercials make us cry, why our mothers-in-law make us crazy, and why chocolate is a necessity, not an option, at least one week out of the month.
The snack counter at our weekend retreat
From weight-loss to Bible study to marriages, I rely on my girlfriends’ loving honesty to hold me accountable. Whether it’s based on years of friendship or simply the connectedness of “sisterhood,” girlfriends can say things that we wouldn’t accept from anyone else.
And, we need them to say those things. They can be life-changing. We have a family friend who still gives my mom credit for saving her marriage. The friend talked to my mom during a time when her marriage hung in the balance. My mom told her words that have helped me in my own marriage.
She said something to the effect of, “Every marriage – every relationship – has its problems. When you divorce, you’re just trading one set of problems for another set. Just work on resolving the problems you’re having and accepting the quirks that won’t change.”
Friends hold you accountable. Even when what they say might make you angry. Even when it’s uncomfortable, inconvenient, or unpopular.
And, we love them for it. A good friend holds you accountable, encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, and pushes you to reach goals that may seem impossible.
The well-stocked fridge at our weekend retreat
The Bible speaks to the importance of female friendships and our roles as girlfriends:
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” – Titus 2:3-5
Our girlfriends are to be our mentors and role models…and we are to be theirs. Age differences shouldn’t be barriers to or determiners of our relationships. Young or old, we have much to offer one another. Our differences can and should complement each other.
The cat who took up with me at our weekend retreat
Our relationships should be a give and take. There is so much we can learn from each other. Do you have those friends that make you say, “I want to be like her when I grow up”?
I have those and I love them. They complement my weaknesses and encourage me to be a better person that I would be on my own. They encourage me to treasure my children, invest in my husband, and be Jesus to the people around me.
It reminds me of the line from Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets: You make me want to be a better man.
My girlfriends inspire me to be a better wife, mom, sister, daughter, and friend and I treasure them for it.
Our Weekend Retreat
Before I go, I have to tell you about our weekend retreat. We ate food we didn’t cook on dishes we didn’t have to wash and slept in beds we didn’t have to make. It was heavenly! It as at a retreat mostly used by scrapbookers and quilters, but it has Wi-Fi, so one friend took her scrapbooking stuff, one took her quilting stuff, and I took my laptop.
Brunch, dinner and snacks were included in the price of the stay. These delicious meals were lovingly prepared by our hostess, Fran, and consisted of things like: fresh, home-baked breads; eggs from her chickens; fruits and veggies from her orchard and garden; and tons of yummy, sinful goodness.
Each meal was served on a themed table setting and we were treated like royalty. We didn’t lift a finger, even to refill our glasses. One night we had Mexican – chicken enchiladas, a chile and egg dish whose exact name I forgot, homemade refried beans, and queso dip with tortilla chips. This was followed by something I’ve never had before – crème Brule.
It was all served on Mexican-themed dinnerware, including placemats and cloth napkins that Fran sewed herself. Then there was the centerpiece:
It wasn’t that blurry in person…aggravating camera phone.
In addition to all the candies, trail mixes, and Chex mix on the counter, we were served an afternoon snack each day – cheese, veggies, homemade sweets. Yes, I’ve been working out since I’ve been home!
We slept covered with quilts made by Fran in small, but homey rooms – most had twin beds, but there are a couple with full beds, too.
The workroom features eight work stations for crafting, but they work well for blogging, too. Each has a table, a power strip, a comfortable chair, and individual task lights.
There is also a projector and a DVD player, so we watched half a dozen or so chick-flicks on the wall.
If you have a group of friends who enjoy crafting – or blogging – and you live in the Northwest Georgia, Northeast Alabama, or Southeast Tennessee area, I highly encourage you to consider Home Harvest Retreat for a girlfriends’ weekend retreat. Fran gives a homeschool discount because her family homeschooled until her children graduated. Just tell her Kris from Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers sent you.
Now, go. Invest in your friendships with your girlfriends. What do you to do cultivate those relationships?
Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.