How often do we hear men complain that they ‘just don’t get women’? That’s because by our nature we’re complex and confusing. But no-one understands a woman like another woman. We need other women in our lives to walk along side us, to guide us, and to pull us up on things we could do better even when it hurts. We need sisters who will speak the truth in love, lift us up out of despair and rejoice with us in times of joy.
Not only am I blessed with a real sister who I can share my faith with, but also with countless other sisters in Christ who have come into my life over the years and left their uniquely shaped marks. I feel so blessed by these women – those I’ve known all my life who continue to shape the person I’m becoming, those who I meet for the first time right when God knows that I need them and go on to become close friends, and those who enter my life only for a season but leave me thoroughly changed.
But though sisterhood is largely about loving each other and building each other up in Christ, there is so much more to it. It’s about moving past the level of friendship where we focus on all that is good to avoid rejection, and entering the stage of the relationship where we are completely open and honest with each other regardless of the risks to our pride. Sisterhood is as much about constructive criticism as it is about compliments: it requires us to have the courage to call each other out when we drift off the path – not to expose our flaws, but to cover them with what is right. Literally:
Sister – the bond we have as members of God’s family.
Hood – covering with love, and with the Holy Spirit.
I have three incredible accountability partners (yes, three – one person alone couldn’t handle me!) who each firmly but lovingly hold me accountable to God in different areas of my life. They constantly amaze me with their capacity for love, and their willingness to go out of their way to support and encourage me when I doubt myself or even doubt God’s love for me. But I also respect them for their fearlessness in equally lovingly challenging me when I get carried away with my own desires rather than focusing on God’s.
The other day I came across this passage in ‘Life of the Beloved’ by Henri Nouwen, and I think it describes perfectly our need for sisters in Christ to hold us accountable!
‘My own experience with anguish has been that facing it and living it through is the way to healing. But I cannot do that on my own. I need someone to keep me standing in it, to assure me that there is peace beyond darkness, life beyond death and love beyond fear.’
Romans 12:10 calls us to ‘Love each other more like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honour than you would want for yourself.’ Sometimes that requires sacrificing what we want in the present (ie. not being afraid to speak the truth because it risks disrupting the peace) in order to move towards what’s best for everyone in the long run. As sisters we need to…
- Encourage each other, and build each other up.
- Speak the truth in LOVE, not self-righteousness.
- Accept our differences and work for the common good.
- Pray for and with each other continually.
- Serve each other faithfully.
Thank God for the sisters He has placed in your life, and seek His guidance in how best you can serve them in return.