Do you compare or champion? Compete or cooperate? Criticize or communicate? Are you a girl of division or a woman of connection?
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
While this may be an oversimplification of what it is like to have a teenage daughter living in your home, many of you will agree that I am not too far off the mark!
So I return to familiar territory on today’s Mindful Monday post because while CONNECTION is the foundation of AT THE CROSSROADS, part of my journey, and one of the topics I speak and write on the most, it has hit home on a different level the past few months as I try to encourage my daughter to avoid division and embrace connection. Much easier said than done!
And lest we “mature women” think this no longer applies to us, I have found that it does not matter what your situation is, how old you are, or your particular season of life–every woman struggles daily with choosing to be a girl of division or a woman of connection.
Because whether you are a 15-year-old girl trying to navigate high school drama or a 40-year-old woman struggling to find authentic friendships, most women have felt the wounds of division and long for the healing of connection.
And the truth is, many of us have been on both of sides of the equation (at least I know I have!). We have been equal participants in bringing others together and pulling others apart.
We make conscious (and even subconscious) choices every day in how we interact:
We disconnect…or connect.
Burn bridges…or build them.
WHAT CHOICE WILL YOU MAKE?
While we can acknowledge we have choices to make, the more important questions are how and why we choose.
To understand how a GIRL OF DIVISION works, we need to examine what she does and why she feels compelled to do it. And to counteract this divisiveness, we need to learn how to become WOMEN OF CONNECTION who are mindful and intentional about bringing people together.
So let us take a look at what GIRLS OF DIVISION do and then how WOMEN OF CONNECTION respond.
GIRLS OF DIVISION COMPARE
Comparison is the enemy of contentment and will get us every time. When we are dissatisfied with where we are on the path, it is so easy to start looking at those around us and see how we measure up.
We easily get caught in the trap of comparing anything and everything: kids, spouses, physical attributes, career choices, houses, financial situations, spiritual lives, and even other friends!
There are only two ways to go when we compare:
- We feel better about ourselves and better than others which leads to pride and a false sense of security.
- We feel worse about ourselves and start to feel less than others which leads to jealousy and insecurity.
Instead of COMPARING…
WOMEN OF CONNECTION CHAMPION
They defend, support, protect, advocate, endorse and help others on the journey.
They are secure enough in their passion and purpose on the path of connection that they can encourage others ahead or behind without comparing.
They are content to stay in their lane and do what God has called them to do.
A WOMAN OF CONNECTION is a cheerleader and encourager who is secure enough in who she is and where God has placed her that she can genuinely rejoice when others succeed.
GIRLS OF DIVISION COMPETE
The reason is it so important to stop at comparison is that it can easily lead to the next area of division: competition.
If we find ourselves lacking when we look at another woman, we may start competing to make ourselves feel better.
For example, have you ever thought some of these things or (gasp!) even said them out loud?
She may be a hands-on, committed, and fun mom, but I am a better homemaker.
They may spend their money on fancy clothes and vacations, but we are saving it for our kids’ college education.
She only has that body because she works out for hours at the gym every day; I cannot afford to spend that kind of time and effort because I am doing more important things like volunteering and taking care of others.
She only got that promotion because she is a workaholic and willing to work crazy hours and travel all the time…I am a better wife and mom because I am there for my family.
Ouch! Do those sting? They comments come from real conversations, so we are all guilty.
Whether we are competing to stay on top or to pass others on the path, it is lonely and exhausting.
Competition also destroys any intimacy or authenticity in our relationships making connection near impossible. How can we expect to be real, honest, and vulnerable with someone if we see her as a competitor?
Instead of COMPETING…
WOMEN OF CONNECTION COOPERATE
They have learned the truth of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (The Message):
“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough!
By yourself, you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.”
WOMEN OF CONNECTION understand that to form genuine, lasting, and reliable connections they need to be people who work with others instead of against them.
They recognize that real strength comes from uniting our gifts, resources, and passions and using them together to achieve great things.
As Mother Teresa said:
“I can do things you cannot; you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
GIRLS OF DIVISION CRITICIZE
It is easy to move from competition to criticism because it is our easy “go to” when we fail.
When we feel like we don’t measure up or cannot even compete, our natural tendency is to criticize. Women have always been good at using words as weapons.
According to the dictionary definition, criticizing is the act of expressing disapproval and of noting the problems or faults of a person or thing; a remark or comment that expresses disapproval of someone or something.
When some of our conversations start with phrases such as:
“I can’t believe that she…”
“I would never…”
“Did you hear/see what they did…”
“She really should…”
When we give in to criticism, three things happen:
- We display our ego and insecurity.
- We set the standard by which we will be judged.
- We alienate people. When we get a reputation for being critical, people will avoid us.
Instead of CRITICIZING…
WOMEN OF CONNECTION COMMUNICATE
They are open, honest, and vulnerable.
They are not afraid to speak the truth in love.
They believe that “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17) so they do not shy away from the hard conversations knowing that they can strengthen and improve connection by being real and genuine.
The goal of their communication is not to point out faults or catch others making mistakes, but rather to motivate, inspire, and encourage.
After hearing real words spoken by a WOMAN OF CONNECTION, one feels better, not worse. The words from her mouth bring healing and hope.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT CONNECTION?
The Bible teaches us to be PEOPLE OF CONNECTION by putting others first and including everyone. This applies to both men and women. So, guys if you have read this far, everything above applies to you too! It is just that being a woman, I have more firsthand experience as to how this works in relationships between women. 😉
Something deep in our souls, whether we choose to admit it or not, longs for meaningful and authentic relationships with others. We want to know others and be known by them. I believe God built this need for connection into our DNA because we are made in His image. The Bible is clear and direct in calling all of us who follow Jesus to connect with others in deep and meaningful ways.
“Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
Philippians 4:2-4 (The Message)
“So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind…”
1 Thessalonians 5:11b
WHO WILL YOU BE?
I will challenge you like I challenge my daughter and myself: Will you stay a GIRL OF DIVISION or strive to become a WOMAN OF CONNECTION?
The choice is yours. And hers. And mine.
Let’s choose as we begin this Mindful Monday to be purposeful and intentional about being people who champion, cooperate, and communicate.
So very grateful that AT THE CROSSROADS is a place where I can connect with YOU!
If you want to hear me speak more on this topic, you can listen to my interview on our local Moody radio station by clicking HERE.