A few weeks ago, I spent a weekend at the beach with a group of dear, lovely ladies, some of whom I’ve known for years while others for only a short time. Some were in college, others had new babies in their arms, while still others were starting businesses, welcoming grandbabies, serving diligently as single moms, seeking employment, and a host of other life circumstances. Yet as diverse as this group of women is, we share one central common trait – we all are seeking to love, honor, and serve our Lord Jesus Christ. What a great uniting bond!
But I have a confession to make. I have spent much of the last decade skirting around friendships with my sisters, choosing instead to focus on my immediate household (in which I’m the only female) and my career. And while these pursuits matter and are important in their own rights, my neglect of precious sisterhood relationships has left me feeling empty and disconnected. And as I am feeling the strain of my friendship-starved soul, I recognize the price my carelessness may have cost others, sisters that needed my presence, my encouragement, my shoulder. Yet in my busyness, I left them unsupported and dangling in the wicked wind of this world’s challenges.
And now to be even more honest, not all of my neglect was the result of being “too busy” with family and career. No, if I am crystal-clear truthful, I must admit that some of my “I’m too busy” was really about my own fear of rejection that resulted in a tangible reluctance to take a risk on a relationship. It seemed much easier to just hide behind my “to do” list and conveniently not find time to invest in the vital relationships that are essential to my emotional and spiritual health. I too easily allowed hurts from the past to form a hardened armored shell around my heart, thinking I could protect my tender places from thoughtless words or actions by cocooning behind the hard, cold steel encasement. But in reality, what was happening was a slow starvation of my soul as I cut off life-sustaining connections to other God-seeking women. Years later, I’m just now realizing how hungry my soul is for the God-designed connections I’ve shunned.
But with honest, pure confession comes change. I must choose to live life differently. I must choose to replace old lies with new truths. I have much to learn, but as I begin this journey, here are some truths I am choosing to put in place of the walls that lies have built. I choose to:
Trust God with my future, removing fear that threatens to stand as a barrier to friendships in my life.
Allow God to remove my stony heart and replace it with one that beats vibrantly in relationship with Him and with my sisters.
Let the waters of forgiveness wash away the hurts from the past, placing those in God’s hands, knowing how much He has forgiven me.
Replace the cold, hard roots of envy and pride with the beautiful warmth of patience and kindness.
Encourage and build up my sisters, lifting them up to the Father in love.
Be humble enough to admit my own weaknesses and broken places, to go beyond the pat answers to admit when I’m not fine.
Walk alongside my sisters when their burdens are heavy. Be loyal and present in the tough seasons of life.
Give the gift of time and listening without judgment or condemnation.
Bring my single light into community with my sisters so that together we can be a city set on a hill.
Love deeply as Christ loves me.
This sums the whole well:
I pray God’s strength and wisdom on this messy, imperfect, rewarding, uplifting, scary, God-designed journey. I am convinced He is choosing this path for me, and I’m equally convinced He is choosing the path of godly friendships for you, too. Let’s take a walk together, lean on each other, learn from each other, laugh along the way, encourage, weep, rejoice…together. Want to come along?
What have you learned about friendships along the way that can help others of us on this pathway? Have you connected with your sisters in the faith? Or have you struggled on this journey like me? Either way, I’d love to hear your story. Let’s talk.