One of the most beautiful things about women is our capacity to relate – whether to friends, colleagues, God, or our men. There is something about us that makes us function best when our relationships are strong. Anti-trafficking campaigner Christine Caine says “I intentionally and continuously surround myself with a great network of friends who support, love, inspire, encourage, and challenge me”. In fact she says it’s a big part of her secret to success.
Could it be that we only reach our potential if we develop strong friendships in our lives? If so, it means we need to stay vulnerable, take risks in meeting new people, call that girl from work and invite her for a cocktail. Or open up to an old friend about your dreams. It also means that we can help others be all that God created them to be, by being caring, honest, life-giving friends. I personally have shared more than a few highs and lows with some amazing women, and I can certainly say I’ve come so much further than I would have simply because of their influence.
Not only are we happier and stronger when our relationships are healthy, but I believe there is another significant truth bound in women’s relational nature. In the last half-century in particular, researchers and development organisations have noted the significant role women play in society because they focus on relationships, and and thus build communities. And in today’s fragmented world, this is an extremely valuable asset.
Organisations like Join My Village specifically raise money to send girls to school, because according to them, “when you invest in a woman, you invest in her community”. Author Darrow Miller similarly argues in his book Nurturing the Nations that there is a direct relationship between countries that are poor, and countries where women are suppressed. Conversely, when women are given freedom, whole communities benefit. So it would seem that women’s capacity for building relationships is more important than meets the eye! Perhaps this is why South African’s hold a “Woman of the Year” award to celebrate women from all sectors of society who use their talents to start orphanages or work on cures for HIV. But I’m getting ahead of myself – I’ll be talking more about that next Saturday, when I look at women and courage.