July 25, 2017
This past weekend, millions of girlfriends flocked to the movie theaters to see the blockbuster film “Girls Trip.” It was a much-anticipated movie that chronicled the lives of four black women who had been friends for years and in many ways, it was a symbolization of another element of “Black Girl Magic.” We are mystical and majestic when it comes to “holding each other down” and just being there for each other as well as everyone else in our homes, churches, relationships, and communities. By just watching the commercials we knew that we would see a piece of ourselves on the big screen and that was worth every moment of time we spent watching the film.
For me, I loved the idea of seeing sisterhood displayed in a realistic manner. I wanted to see the good, the bad and the ugly and how despite and in spite of it all, the deeply seeded friendships shared was like a virus running through bloodstreams; you just can’t seem to get rid of it. I believe that this is the foundation of true sisterhood and friendship. And yes, I know it ain’t easy, but I know it is worth it.
Beyond the laughter and the tears, a few messages from the movie resonated with me and I want to spend a few minutes expounding on my thoughts and reviewing the lessons I learned from it.
Lesson 1: Be there.
Just be there for your friends. Sometimes you don’t need to say anything to show them that your back is ready to carry their load. There were scenes in the movie where I just wanted the friends to “be still” and just “feel” the pain of their sister in order to help her heal. There will be the “right” time for the “right” moment, but there are times when you just need to sit and just feel her pain with her. Your sister is loyal to you and will sometimes suffer in silence with you until that “breakthrough” is visible. Being still requires being obedient to your friendship and knowing that sometimes you just have to wait until they are “ready” to “make moves” in their lives. It can be hard to “watch” because you want to “do” but as her friend, you just need to be “there.”
Lesson 2: Scan the room.
Not everybody who is sitting in your front row is clapping for you. Sometimes there are people standing against the wall in the back of the room who have been rooting for you all along. You just have to allow yourself to look beyond the front row to see your supporters. There was a character in the movie, Julian, who was the person on the back wall. While he wasn’t advertised as a “main” character in the movie, I think that his role symbolized the support systems that we have and tend to overlook. Remember to look beyond what is front of you because what you may need the most could be in the back of the room Be sure to scan your audience because support may be present in many ways but you have to allow yourself to look beyond the obvious to receive it.
Lesson 3: Allow yourself to be loved.
I resonated with one of the characters because I really think that she reflected the core of my soul and who I am the most. I have always been that “strong, tenacious, resilient, courageous…” girl who never feared life. I always seem to “make” things happen rather than “let” things happen. I’m a “go getter” who honestly believes that there is a pot of gold just for me at the end of each rainbow. I own the power of positive thinking, and I believe that the “best is yet to come” despite and in spite of what the past has shown me or the circumstances that the present has me living with right now. I support the idea that you can “have it all” but also demand that we first learn how to define what “all” means us and if we really want it “all.”
Because I am so strong, sometimes I forget to allow myself to be “weak” and allow others to help and love me the best way they know how. In fact, I’m not even sure I know how to be weak. I don’t know how to depend on others, and I don’t understand how to give others permission to take care of me.
If I took the time to just “be still” and allow myself to share my heart, my pain and my tears with others then perhaps then the burden wouldn’t feel so heavy as I am processing any fear, confusion, and doubt.
I watched my life unfold before me on screen as I watched one of the characters discover that she could still be “that” strong woman while revealing her weak spots. She could still hold her head high and not be perfect. She could still hurt inside but still be powerful. And she could still stand in her truth while revealing a lie. While the scenario of her life that taught her these lessons are different from mine, I knew that the core of whom she was aligned with my heart and soul.
I’ve got to do better. I’ve got to hold up my end of my “sistagurlfriend” relationships and share my pain. And not just the things that are “safe” to share like the debilitating effects of living with Lupus. I need to share the things that really keep me tossing and turning at night, writing essays that I never publish, and the hurts that have me on my knees speaking in tongues and constantly praying. I need to be more open about the things that I struggle to wrap my brain around because I can’t find the answers but will never pose the question to anyone else.
Through the lens of this movie, I was reminded that I don’t have one friend who knows the “most” about me. I have childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, married friends, work friends, soror friends, cousin friends, etc. who operate in “compartments” in my life. While all of these are powerful relationships, they are segmented without much overlap. People know bits and pieces of me…but not all of me. And it’s not because they don’t want to know all of me, it’s because they accept what I give them. Just like the character in the movie. I watched the various facets of her life finally merge together, and her “girls” were there for despite and in spite of all the fragmented pieces, and it made me wonder if that were possible for me.
There are so many layers to this lesson that I am still absorbing…I’ll stop here though.
Lesson 4: Enjoy your friendships.
Yes. Just take the time to have some fun and enjoy. We are all busy, and we all have responsibilities, but sometimes we just need to have fun and embrace the simple things in life. Whether it is girls date out, a weekend trip to nowhere or a shopping expedition with no money, do the things that make you smile. The things that makes you live in the moment and embrace the love you have for your sistagurlfriend.
Lesson 5: Know your value, understand your worth.
Absolutely! Remember how valuable you are to your friends so that no matter what you are going through, you matter to them. You are short-changing yourself thinking that they will think of you differently or won’t be there for you if you don’t share your struggles of significance with them. Remind yourself that these girls want to see the power within you emerge, they want you to be that foot soldier emerging from the trenches, and when you’ve “been through hell,” they want you to know that although you may be bent, you are not broken; you may be damaged but you are not destroyed and that you are already equipped and empowered to turn tragedy into triumph, and while you may feel like the victim now, you will be victorious later. That’s the value they know you bring to the table of friendship and you need to understand how worthy you are to them. Throughout the entire movie, I watched this lesson unfold as it came to a close, I knew that we sometimes we forget the value we bring to our friendships and how worthy we are to the people who are our friends.
So there you have it…My major takeaways. There are many other lessons that I could share about this movie, but I think you get the gist of what I am trying to say…
Life is simply too short to skimp on enjoying special times with your sistagurlfriends. I always say “to have a friend you must also be a friend,”and sometimes I think that we forget to be the best friend we know how. We can’t do that anymore. Find the formula of friendship that works for you and your girls and apply it so that all of your needs are met, and you know that they “got your back.” I know we can do this. I know we got this. It’s not just what we do; it’s a part of who we are.
Check on your “weak” friends. Check on your “needy” friends. Check on your “hard to reach” friends. Check on your “always got it together” friends. And definitely, check on your “strong friends.” You never, ever know when that “check” is the one they needed at that very moment.
“Sistagurlfriend” is a powerful relationship that is only empowered when we allow it to flourish and become all that is has the aptitude to be but you have to allow it. After seeing the movie, I am reassessing my role in my friendships and how I become a better friend to my true “sistagurlfriends.” I want to. I need to and I will.
Will you work to be “that” friend and make it happen too?