Welcome to Girls’ Club: The Fine Art of Creating Intentional Friendships
Adapted from Girls’ Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World by Sally Clarkson, Joy Clarkson, and Sarah Clarkson, Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
I (Sally) love women. I love the way they love each other and encourage one another. I love the way they civilize their homes and nurture their families. I love their generous hearts for reaching out to others, for making things beautiful. I love watching them exert influence as writers, inspire others through teaching, use their gifts of healing in the medical profession, counsel with wisdom, lay spiritual foundations as mothers, pass on a legacy of traditions, and accomplish countless other feats of goodness.
The women in my life have taught me profoundly important values and have inspired me to serve more humbly and to persevere and endure, faithfully trusting God through dark times. They have also shown me the glory of celebrating big and small events in my life. Women seem to know how to be thoughtful, kind, and creative in the most mundane details of life.
My deep respect for the capacity and scope women hold has come over a lifetime of developing friendships with women who have called me to my best self. Friendships with women of great hearts, engaged minds, and devoted, vibrant souls give me energy to fuel my life and to respond in kind to their initiation. When we connect ourselves, walking arm in arm, we find models of inspiration in the stories of others that spur us on to live into our own potential.
As I began to grasp and appreciate this kind of intentional mentoring, love, and encouragement in my own life, it became a poignant focus of relationship that I wanted to pass on to my daughters. I wanted to pass on a vision for life that would help them cultivate clarity for their place in God’s Kingdom work through the living out of their own personal stories. Believing in God’s love for them in all circumstances and His presence every minute of their lives was the foundation for passing on deep convictions and faith.
A part of mentoring them in their faith was to challenge them intellectually, as well. Longing to stretch them to their full capacity, I devoted thought, commitment, and time to my relationship with them and to the focus and purpose of the hours we spent together.
Out of this desire came a commitment to regularly gather. We dubbed our threesome “Girls’ Club.” At first, we met on Tuesday evenings when Joy, my younger daughter, was a wee girl of seven or eight and Sarah, my older daughter, was about eighteen. Though the age difference among the three of us was great, I just focused on developing a close kinship among us. And now Sarah and Joy have become best friends because of all the time spent together and the years invested in cultivating the same preferences.
We would watch a girl movie, make an evening picnic, give each other facials, paint our toenails, light candles, put on music, and spend fun time together. As time went on, we read books together, went to art museums, looked at magazines, and went for long walks. The girls traveled and worked alongside me as I spoke at events and conferences. We decided our club would be a weekly commitment, giving us a reprieve from the busyness of life and creating a sense of centering for all the other demands that swirled through our days.
Loneliness was one of the motivations for the Girls’ Club through the years. We moved seventeen times—six times internationally. We all found ourselves lonely for people who were familiar and knew us deeply. We looked for friends who were at our stage of life and loved the same values, habits, and delights, and yet we knew that deep friendship comes slowly. I wanted the girls to feel, even during their lonely seasons, that they did indeed have deep friendship. And so Girls’ Club helped us create community with each other so that the loneliness wouldn’t be felt so acutely. We had each other, and we made it a priority to spend time together.
Eventually, we took planned Girls’ Club trips together—to Asheville, Santa Fe, Seattle, Prince Edward Island, London, Oxford, Cambridge, Vienna, Poland, and more.
In these new cities, often alone in a hotel room, we watched movies, frequented museums, toured on trains, experienced missions, read books out loud, listened to audiobooks, and cultivated friendships with other people, young and old, together.
Over the years, as our pursuits took us all over the world and the girls moved into their own arenas, they each started their own informal Girls’ Club groups with the friends present in their lives. Each of us began to see, once again, the strength and encouragement that comes from intentionally creating a community of kindred spirits with women who live near us.
Maybe you feel like you could never develop such a friend. But I am convinced that all of us not only have capacity for deep friendships, we need them to be able to live emotionally healthy lives. Each of us has a different life story, but all of us have the ability to beautify the days we are given by choosing to grow strong in love, initiation, and imagination with other women and to celebrate life with them.
Girls’ Club is our story as well as a gathering of convictions that each of us holds about the importance of cultivating female friendships that not only provide emotional affirmation and acceptance but also inspire, educate, train, and stretch us to live into our God-given potential. As we seek to invest our lives for God’s glory—and satisfy our longing for meaningful and intimate companionship—we are held firm by the friendships we have invested in over time. Cultivating such friendships may take years of making memories, sharing seasons, and initiating, but these friendships become the backbone that holds our lives together.
I am a different person because of the faithfulness, encouragement, and inspiration I have received from my friends and my daughters. It is our hope that Girls’ Club will encourage you to take the initiative to seek out women with whom to share and shape life. We pray that some of our ideas might spawn other meaningful groups and friendships. We hope you will discover anew the gift of intimate companionship with women who support each other, helping each other live up to the amazing potential God created in each of us.
About the Authors
Sally Clarkson is a tea drinker, the head chef of her kitchen, and the author of many bestselling books, including the Lifegiving series and Different. She has inspired women for thirty-five years to live courageously and faithfully. She shares her wisdom on her blog, www.sallyclarkson.com, and on her podcast, At Home with Sally Clarkson and Friends.
Sarah Clarkson is a feast maker, path wanderer, and book devourer. She is the author of Book Girl, Read for the Heart, and Caught Up in a Story and the coauthor of The Lifegiving Home, and she is a recent graduate of Oxford University. She blogs at www.sarahclarkson.com.
Joy Clarkson is a jet-setter, podcaster (Speaking with Joy), and people lover. She is currently working on her doctorate in theology, imagination, and the arts at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. You can find her writing and podcasts at www.joyclarkson.com.