I am currently doing something I don't do often: rereading a book. There are so many books out there that I don't often pick something up twice, but I had been feeling like I needed a good dose of friendship lately, and immediately this book series came to mind.
Now, I am blessed with many many good girlfriends. More than I've ever had at any point in my life until now. I have mommy friends and church friends and blog friends and email friends. They all fulfill a different purpose in my life, meeting different needs for me. They are my examples and inspiration, shoulders to cry on and sounding boards for frustrations. Together we share laughs and music and books and scripture and faith and life. I am truly blessed.
I was drawn to these books for another reason, one that is ironically both part of the plot and the theme of the books. The trilogy is about three women, strangers, who meet one summer when they are all billeting at the same house during a religious educational conference. They are different ages, in different stages of life. They only spend a few days together, but they are drawn to each other, and spend the next 25 years in correspondence, mostly through letter writing, with occasional visits. It is never openly expressed in the book, but I think part of what draws them to each other is the fact that these friends are not in their local circle.
I think women have a tendency to always and only want to show their best face to those we come in contact with on a regular basis. Heaven forbid someone drop in with last night's dishes rivaling Mount Everest in size, piled up in the sink. Or see us one of those days when we opt not to shower and dress. Or catch us losing our temper with our kids. We just don't do that!
When it comes to strangers, we have the ability to let it all out. Sometimes it's just easier to confess our deepest fears to someone we don't have to sit beside at church on Sunday or run into at the market. We need to have a moment of vulnerability with someone, but we don't want to see that someone the next day, feeling embarrassed about our personal trials and failures.
So when I picked up this book for the second time, I had the sense that I could sit in with these girls, women who were going through the same things I am, experiencing the same emotions. The authors of the book are honest about those feelings that lurk beneath the surface in us all. And so for me, I feel like I can reveal myself to these characters, admit that I can sympathize with what they are going through, have a conversation with them. And then I can close the book and not feel overwhelmed by a more public confession. Not everything I'm feeling needs to be shared with someone else, but sometimes it still needs an outlet. This seems to provide the perfect answer for me.