Friendships between women can get a bad rap. Women are often stereotyped as jealous, catty, and judgmental, so it can be easy to wave off friendships with women as complicated and messy.
But we don’t have to live in a “Mean Girls” world. Friendships between women offer incredible opportunity for spiritual growth and feminine community. Instead of buying into the world’s expectations for back-stabbing friendships between women, we can find the perfect example of feminine friendship in the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Can you imagine being in Mary’s shoes? The Angel Gabriel just appeared to her and told her, that despite her virginity, she was going to be the mother of the Savior of the World. But instead of getting a moment to process a huge life-altering announcement, Mary is instead asked to go visit her cousin Elizabeth - a woman who was once called barren but, through a chain of miraculous events, was expecting a baby, too.
Many women would have done a double take. Announce that I’m pregnant with GOD and then tell me to take a road trip? No thank you. And God wasn't asking Mary to just take a quick jog down the road. Tradition tells us that Elizabeth and Zechariah probably lived in or near the city of Hebron - which was nearly a 100 mile long trip from Nazareth. So it would have taken Mary about a week or longer to make the journey on foot.
Yet Mary wasn’t miffed about Elizabeth's pregnancy – granted, it helped that she was immaculately conceived and didn’t struggle with sin. But if I had been in her place, jealously would have creeped into my heart. God has just been conceived in my womb, but I was being asked to go celebrate Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy?
But Mary wasn’t angry, jealous, or judgmental. She didn’t go to visit Elizabeth out of curiosity or to see if the Angle Gabriel was telling her the truth. Instead she humbly went to visit her cousin and celebrate her blessings.
Beautifully, Mary is rewarded for her humble acceptance of God’s will. When she reaches the end of her trip, Elizabeth greets her with humility, beautifully pausing to rejoice of Mary’s new role as the Mother of God. Mary, who had made the journey with a mission to serve, found herself praised and blessed.
As women, we have to take this Marian example and live it out in our own lives. Rejecting the "Mean Girls" attitude and awful stereotypes, we should embrace intentional friendships with each other. If you've struggled in the past to form friendship with other women, Mary offers us an incredible example of how to form friendships.
"What a joy to remember that Mary is our mother! Since she loves us and knows our weakness, what have we to fear?" - St. Therese of Lisieux