Hope (and how we hurt our friends)

I’ve got two tests to study for, which of course means I can’t concentrate.  To refocus, I’ll give you a blog post!

So there is this thing that we girls do.  Christian girls do it, non-Christian girls do it, old girls do it, young girls do it… It’s nurtured into our nature. And we think we’re supporting each other, but we are really tearing each other apart.

But I really, REALLY think that this should stop: we are encouraging each other to hope in the COMPLETELY WRONG THINGS.  (Or more specifically, the completely wrong GUYS.)

Now, if you’ve seen the Hunger Games movie (which I recommend, and I have read the books too), there is a scene where two of the “bad guys” are talking.  It goes a little something like this:

“Hope: it is the only thing stronger than fear.  A little hope is effective; a lot of hope is dangerous.”

I know it’s just a movie quote, but it so effectively puts into words the power of hope.  Which is something, that as a girl, I have often clung to wayyyyy longer than I should have.  You know what I’m talking about:  boys.  Recently, when I really need guy advice, (and I’ve only had to do this twice,) I go to a trustworthy, spiritually grounded male and ask him for his thoughts on the situation.  This seems counter-intuitive to the  unspoken “girl talk stays within girls/guys are clueless to girls things” rules, but it is so effective.  Why?  Because he will tell me exactly how the situation is–unlike a girl.  I’ve asked for his thoughts, and that’s what he’ll give me– insight, not encouragement.

For example, take the typical “guy shows interest in me, we talk for a while, guy eventually stops texting me back” situation (which has happened to me a couple times in the past year.)  When I turned to my girlfriends to get advice about it, this is what I hear:

“Of course he still likes you!  He’s probably just afraid.”
“Why don’t you just text him?”
“When you two are together, you’ll look back at this and laugh…”
“Oh my gosh, he totally wants to marry you!  He talked to you once like four months ago, didn’t he?!”  (Just kidding… kind of.)

When I turn to a guy for advice:

“It sounds like, since communication stopped, that he’s moved on.  I really suspect he’s just a flirt.”

There’s more than a bit of a difference there.  My girlfriends (although they certainly have good intentions and I am in no way upset at them) keep stoking that little dwindling fire of hope inside of me, but all it’s doing is filling my heart with smoke and clouding my vision.  The guy advice is honest and very neatly pours water on those embers and (in case you’re wondering) yes, there is a little “sizzle” of pain when the truth hits me; but my heart quickly surveys that once-romantic situation for what it is now–burnt, barren ground–and moves on.

I’m not doing this to glorify going to guys for advice; I’m doing this to point out the difference in strategy.  It is bred into us that a good (female) friend is uplifting, encouraging, and will always tell you that “You look great!” and “Of course you’re not fat!”  Here’s how I see it:  a good friend, yes, will tell me that I look good when we’re out eating dinner; but a great friend will also tell me if I have something in my teeth.  It’s something that we women are so terrified to do–point out one little short-term flaw–that we won’t say anything and allow our friends to undergo long-term embarrassment.

My point is:  by encouraging our girlfriends to keep (mentally, spiritually) pursuing a guy that is just not pursuing her, we are just feeding that fire of hope inside of her to the point where it becomes dangerous to her heart and burns her up inside.  The rule of thumb is:  If he wants to talk to you, he will And if he’s not talking to you, he’s not interested.

[And of course, I know there are situations where the guy really does like her, maybe it worked out for you, blah blah blah–but just think twice before sharing that story with your struggling friend, because if it happened to you it is probably NOT going to happen to her.  You’re just stoking the wrong fire.]


P.S.  For more thoughts boy/girl texting, check out this fantastic post on Her.Meneutics:  “Real Women Don’t Text Back.”

One thought on “Hope (and how we hurt our friends)

  1. This is one of the biggest issue I have with chronic pain and girlfriends. Even my sister does it. When we’re going to go out somewhere and do something, and I start feeling sick, I say “I don’t know if I can do this today.” and if I’m talking to a girl, the response is ALWAYS “Yes you can! I know you can. You’re so strong/ you’ve just got to try/ I believe in you!” and that’s sweet, but sometimes I just need to hear that it’s okay that I sit out and watch, or reschedule. They always mean so well, but it always breaks my heart.

    Very insightful post, something I hadn’t put together (and that I wish I’d known in high school). 😉

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