Sisters in Christ – Part 4

March 6, 2013

So Much More than Friends

Fifth grade will always live in infamy in my memory as a year of friendship failure. The teacher had handpicked seven of us from his fourth-grade class to return as fifth graders in an experimental split-grade classroom: four boys and three girls off in a circle in one corner of the room. 

When he selected us, he obviously didn’t consider whether the three of us girls even liked each other. But there we were, three 10-year-old females stuck with each other every school day for an entire year. We each independently decided that the only way to make this situation palatable was to have an exclusive relationship with one of the other two. Naturally, our alliances changed semi-weekly, and the whole school year was an endless cycle of two-against-one clashes. One day our teacher became so frustrated with our bickering that he threatened to paddle us all. 

I was never so glad for that year to be over. 

For many females, friendships are vitally important, and BFFs are the holy grail. Yet, many of us learned early in life that female friendships can be complex and even painful. Some of us decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and just gave up. 

When we go to church, we often look for friends there. What better place could we find a friend? Approaching the search there as we might outside the church, we put out feelers for women who have common interests and similar life circumstances. We watch for signals that a woman is welcoming, warm, witty—whatever quality we value most. Some of us may hang back waiting for someone to invite us inside her social circle, which unfortunately, may never happen. 

I have encouraging news, though. Whether or not you find a BFF at church, God has placed you in a spiritual sisterhood with women who can be so much more than friends. 

These women may not share your marital status or age band. Their family make-up may not match yours. They may spend their daytime hours differently than you do. They may not agree with you on every theological topic or be able to watch the same cable news channel you do. They may enjoy different fashion styles and come from different ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds. You may never go shopping or to a movie with some of these women or hang out together on a Saturday afternoon. 

Sisters, however, are connected by the bonds of Christ, regardless of their differences. These connections don’t come and go at the whim of changing interests or life circumstances, which sometimes happens with friendships. Sisters are women we can work with, lean on, learn from, and trust to have our backs when things get hard.  We are partners together in God’s kingdom work and allies in the struggle against the dark powers of this world.

God chooses our sisters, not us. He puts us in a church body together and, like my fifth-grade teacher, never asks first if we like each other. He did give us an example to follow, though, a guide for getting along and strengthening our bonds. It’s Jesus, of course. 

Jesus didn’t hang out on the fringes waiting for folks to like him and invite him into their social circles. He didn’t wait to fit into anyone’s perfect niche, but he reached out and connected with others because he genuinely cared about them. He had a mission, a calling, and he took the initiative to engage in people’s lives, serve them, teach them, help them, and invite them into service with him. 

In my next post, I’ll back up and share some thoughts from women who struggle in their relationships with other Christian women. Then, we’ll figure out how being more like Jesus can help us with that. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!

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