As a women’s ministry leader I have been reminded over and over again that people want true authenticity from their leaders. However, in reality, that is much easier said than done. While many women are social and friendships are important to them, it is rare to have those true “safe haven” friendships. You know the ones—the ones where you can truly be yourself, with all your flaws, all your doubts, all your hurts and all your disappointments. Those friendships are few and far in between.
I consider myself extremely blessed because last weekend I was able to spend time with two of my safe haven friends. They are women I trust implicitly with my secrets, my hurts, and my dreams. They don’t judge me. They pray for me. They encourage me. They listen to me. They cry with me. They laugh with me. And because of our busy lives, it is hard for us to set aside time for weekends like this.
I confess, I didn’t want our time together to end, and as I drove away from our weekend, tears rolled down my cheeks. We had each come to our weekend tired and weary, our hearts hungering for our time together. And the weekend didn’t disappoint. We didn’t solve all of our woes, but we shared our burdens and encouraged one another.
Studies have shown that women need friendships. A UCLA study found “that people who had no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period. In another study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%.”1
The same study also found that women who are stressed and confide in one another increase their oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is a feel-good hormone that helps improve our moods. Women’s friendships are beneficial to good health, but unfortunately, when women become depressed or stressed, one of the first things to go are friendships.
God made us to be relational creatures. And I think he made women even more that way. We all need those safe haven friends to see us through our hard times and to share with us in our good times.
1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Not only does loving one another deeply cover a multitude of sins, it gives us a multitude of hope.