Forming Alliances

We’ve all probably had experiences with cliques in junior high, high school, and beyond, but one of the things I hadn’t realized until more recently is just how frequently we seek to form alliances as a means of self-justification/preservation in everyday life and everyday situations. It’s so in my face anymore, that I am beginning to wonder how much of life is true friendship vs. simple allies. And it worries me.

Maybe I didn’t see it before because I just wasn’t paying attention, but lately I’ve noticed it everywhere. And once again, women are the prime culprit.

It probably seems like I pick on women a lot, but it’s only because I long for women to be great. I only pick on things when I believe something good can be better. If I don’t bother to talk about it at all, it’s probably because it appears beyond hope to me. There, now you know one of my deep, dark secrets.

Women, we can do better. We really can.

As I’ve expanded my circle of female friends, I’ve really been baffled by some of the interactions and assumptions I’ve run into. It’s the oddest thing, but it feels as though women in particular often believe the worst possible thing about other women’s intentions. As someone who likes to have a lot of discussions about any number of things, I find this trend discouraging, because I want to be able to have conversations without losing friends over them or having people assume I suddenly dislike them. I don’t.

I realize that words are tricky and emotions are fickle, but I’ve rarely had this problem with men. Men don’t usually assume I mean another thing when I make a statement. They don’t think I’m secretly harboring hatred or anger but flashing a fake smile. They don’t presume silence to be disgust. They don’t translate my words into other words or substitute experience and imagination for reality. But I see women do this constantly. Why?

The forming of these kinds of alliances often isn’t complete without odd, non-strategic wars, rife with logical fallacies, insults, retaliation Facebook posts, and more, while scrambling behind the scenes to forge alliances via text and instant messenger.

But the worst of it is the switching and swapping of allies from one day to the next. Oh, we’re talking about homeschooling today? I’m on her team. Breastfeeding tomorrow? Switching teammates. Vaccinations and GMOs? Let’s pick teams again!

People, it’s exhausting. You don’t have to have teams. You can just be individuals. You don’t have to have secret conversations in which you plot another’s demise, because it’s still mostly a free country where we can peacefully coexist with all of our quirks and interests and whatever else. It’s okay. We’re supposed to spend our days loving God and loving one another. And all of this garbage has really got to disappear. It’s got to.

But here’s what I’ve found. Sometimes it takes pointing it out first and talking about it and making a pact to not be the kinds of people who form alliances rather than foster true friendships that carry with them all sorts of diversity and differences of opinion yet are characterized by a genuine love for the individual. It’s genuine love that allows us to have the hard and difficult conversations in a way that will be respected and heard. And it’s genuine love that cares more about truth and honesty than self-preservation.

The friends one day and enemies the next is really not a good way to live. We should be characterized by love and forgiveness, and if we cannot be, there’s a problem. Usually, it’s our own problem in our own wicked hearts. I know I’ve caught myself many times thinking bad thoughts about others and assuming the worst, and it’s not okay. It’s sin.

So, I challenge all of my female friends to stop the alliances before they start. To treat people as beautiful, unique individuals made in the image of God and therefore deserving of dignity and respect. It’s okay for us to not all agree on every little thing. Our differences should be opportunities for learning and dialogue, recognizing that it’s the true truth that matters most, certainly more than our own egos.

We’ve got so much work to do and so many things to see and enjoy before we die that we simply don’t have time for petty stuff. So, the next time you’re tempted to gather your team together and talk crap about the other team, just remember you’re choosing to waste your life on this stuff. Is it worth it? Is it?

Instead be an advocate for one another. Be the peacemaker. Hold one another accountable and to higher standards. Stop the petty before it starts. The world needs you at your best giving your very best. Dream bigger.

Beka Johnson
Beka Johnson

Beka is the Director of Inbound Marketing for a fintech company in the Seattle area. She loves dabbling, reading, scheming, writing, and dreaming up ways to make good things better. When she’s not working, you can find her digging up all sorts of adventures in her new city.

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