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An Open Letter To The Sisterhood

March 30, 2017

I wrote this several years ago and my heart clenches hard when I read these words.  But not because I am ashamed.  Because they are so true.  In black and white, varying incarnations throughout the years, this is what relationships with women have meant to me and many like me.  We have watched those girls. The ones across the room who laugh easy and smile big, who live all bright and shiny, never quite making eye contact.

There is a viciousness to women unparalleled in humanity.  There is also a kindness and compassion intrinsic to women, when nurtured, that can rally armies and stir nations.

Too many of us fail to nurture the kindness and wallow only in the bitter.

For those of us who wrestle?   This letter is for us.

And for that girl. Just in case she reads this too.

Dear Girl Across The Room,

You don’t know me. I don’t even blip on your radar.

It’s obvious by the way you skim right over me like I am of no consequence.

I am 9 and 14, 18 and 25, 32 and today, and probably in the next years too, and I want you to like me so desperately I can barely stand myself.

I want to fit in. Could I be one of the girls? Just once.

In my experience, women are cruel and cold and yet, there is this sisterhood I’ve only glimpsed and it looks alluring. I am fascinated by it.

Maybe this time everything will click.

Standing with my heart and soul all coiled up and tense on the inside while the outside of me shines and says polite things and hopes that only the best side of me shows so you will take the bait and find me worth your time, I am fake and sincere all at once.

Eager and reluctant tied up in carefully selected accessories and red lipstick.

I watch you work the room, ruling as a modern day Queen in the middle of your admirers until, for a moment, you notice me too and suddenly, I feel like Somebody.

But you move on to the next girl and never look my way again.

It’s true. I don’t matter to you.  Obviously, you’ve decided I don’t have anything to offer.

I’m not brilliant enough, model beautiful, well-connected, or possessing any skill and ability you wish to gain for yourself. I don’t have any of the other attributes glaringly obvious in the girls you have collected around yourself.

Not that you’d know. You don’t know me, not really.

Yet, there I sit in your box, neatly and quickly defined as someone you don’t want to know. I rebel against the helpless and hideous feeling of being dismissed. But I am powerless.  Restrained by social norms and niceties I don’t quite understand.

Rotating in similar circles of life, I sometimes overhear you talking about feeling unimportant, hideous, and worthless and I think, maybe, just maybe, we could find a common ground in the richness of God’s unending grace. I know those feelings. I know that weakness.

Before I can offer you the hope of Divinity in Love I’ve grown to lean on with ferocity born of trust in a faithful Father, almost before the words have become lost in conversation, you are surrounded by a host of people denying the ugliness in your heart and declaring your value and beauty and worth so loud no other words are ever going to be heard.

Shamed into silence, the words die on my lips, unspoken, unshared.  Unnecessary.  Just like me.

Just like me.

I am invisible to you unless something in me is needed.  My value, tied intrinsically into what benefits you, might give a good enough reason to cross my path.

For just a moment, maybe even a day or two, when I was needed and before I saw how you really were, I felt hope.  A sweet taste of friendship left me in a moment where, unbelievably, I belonged.

I tasted the sisterhood.

Until the currency of our relationship is spent and like yesterdays worn out shoes, I am relegated to the outside. Again.

My tiny offering, no longer valued in your economy, only bought so much time. Resigned to an awkward silence on the other side of the table, the car, and the classroom, I do try to find peace in my position. Pushing through the burden of insecurity, determined that you will not dictate my value, I offer single thought suggestions at the gatherings we share in common.

But your silent veto is far more crushing than you could imagine. The rest of the girls follow your lead and I am unheard.

Again.

You know, Girl, I care too much about what you think. I need to get over it, already. I know. I’m trying. I promise.

Maybe it’s this underlying desperation you sense which drives you away from me. Maybe… Maybe I look like you feel and the comparison hurts you too.  Maybe I’m stretching. Reaching for straws to avoid seeing myself as this broken, unlovely mess.

I could more easily get beyond this but our paths cross too many times in the life we lead near each other and every snub and refused invitation, every bright smile and inside joke with the rest of the girls, is a loud and stark contrast to the blank face and mumbled hellos to me, when you do acknowledge me.

I don’t know if you know how you hurt me.  But you do. Every time, sister.

Sarcastic darts, judgmental arrows, and the incredibly precise jabs all seem to find the tenderest places until you have crushed me underfoot. You are completely immune and ignorant of the cost of your actions.

It’s more than I can bear. More than I should have been bearing.

So, I’ve decided I’m really letting you go.   Really. For real now.

I’m serious this time.

You are laughing at me. I can hear you because we both know we’ll meet again and I’ll wrestle with all of this ugliness in me then too.The shallow ache I have to belong won’t really ever go away until I find where I fit. And even then, I know I’m not made for the inclusion I have coveted. I’m an outsider.

You are everywhere, Girl. Your sharp wit and emotional baggage combined with the cruelty seemingly inherent to women keeping me at arm’s length until I’m never quite sure who I can trust and the ones to avoid.

I’m wrestling through this muck I live in and I am determined to leave you to walk through your own issues without me.  I obviously have so many of my own to deal with, that should take all my strength. But, it’s hard. I have relied on blaming you for my weakness. That’s way easier than looking at myself and I am comfortable with condemning you without really knowing you.

I guess we have that in common.

Slowly, painfully, I am trying to not only learn but also believe acceptance and worth that are found within the brilliant and beautiful people God has already surrounded me with are a reminder me that His goodness isn’t just enough.

His goodness is abundance.

Someday, I will remember right away that I don’t need your approval to matter.

Maybe then the 9 and 14, 18 and 25, 32 and today girl can be free.

Until then, I’m going to hold on to the words of my dear friend, Paul, who wrote my heart a long, long time ago. See, we know Someone who specializes in taking weaknesses and making of them something quite marvelous.

“8 At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, 9 and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12: 8-9

Sincerely,

That Girl You See Across The Room