I recently spent a weekend with four girlfriends at our lake house. We had two full days of talking, no makeup, more talking, healthy snacks, more talking, gourmet dinners and wine, more talking, and sitting around a big firepit in the evening for more talking. It was a time of transparency, laughter, deeper connections and praise to the One who gave us the precious gift of friends.
As gorgeous as each of these women are on the outside, they are even more beautiful on the inside. What makes them this way is their strength, their perseverance in trials and their tender hearts as they regard each chapter of their lives as times of growth, not setbacks. Each one of us so different, but also the same as we shared our journeys that brought us to that magical spot at a time when each of us needed rest and nourishment for our bodies and souls.
As I look back on that special weekend, I am moved by the profound value of transparency. The vast majority of women spend most of their time wearing masks, trying to hide their flaws, their hurts and the mistakes of their past. We want to look our best to the world, when inside we might be depressed and falling apart. We fear being judged so we bury our shame, guilt and imperfections so everyone will like us more. The problem is, the more we hold it all in, the more our self-worth deteriorates. It feels so good to let it out.
One friend in particular always looks like a million dollars when I see her, but her life story reveals a woman of steel. She divorced her first husband who was an alcoholic, raised a rebellious son as a single mom, rejoiced when he finally got his life together, and grieved when his life was cut short from a massive asthma attack at the age of 20. Her second marriage also went down the drain, and now she has finally found love with a man who truly adores her. No one would suspect she’d had such a roller coaster ride, this stunning woman in her 60’s. But now she is feeling called to share it with women who can relate to her story.
In some way or another, all of us had been deeply affected by our mothers—mothers who were verbally abusive, emotionally absent or unequipped to fulfill the motherhood role. As stories flowed, we discussed how being “unmothered daughters” had affected us through the years (and still does). Once again, the vulnerability of the group led to deeper bonds and the realization that we all have “back stories,” no matter what we look like on the outside. And those stories, while sometimes tragic, are somewhat comforting to us because deep down we want to find acceptance and unconditional love from other women who are just like us—flawed but resilient.
I encourage you to spend some time with friends. Not just over coffee or lunch, but some getaway time when you can open up and share what’s going on in your life. Take off the masks and get real. Create deeper bonds, experience unconditional love and know you are surrounded by a world full of imperfect women. Choose transparency over perfection. You never know whose life you might change in the process.