By Ashlynne Bell
What if we became defenders of each other’s hearts instead of our defenses becoming our mouthpiece?
What would happen if we truly began to shoulder one another’s weak places and stand on the sidelines, cheering for one another’s victories?
What if we stopped protecting those spaces within us that we feel no one wants to see and allowed the Lord to push us into a place of vulnerability, safety, and true sisterhood?
I am unable to fully write about Kingdom Sisterhood without first laying my heart on the line and sharing what has been a very raw and personal journey over the last few months and even years. Sisterhood is not something I can speak of in past tense because it is something that has only been awakened and understood in recent moments of my life. I have learned that loving God in His fullness, and loving myself as His creation, has everything to do with how I cherish, sustain, and protect those around me.
You see, we live in a culture where even the word “sisterhood” has become cliché’, misunderstood, and something we simply want to slap onto a t-shirt or coffee mug so we can appear relevant. We think it’s enough to schedule coffee dates, take Friday night selfies, and secure Sunday side-hugs as if to say, We’ve got this sisterhood thing down! We continue to bypass our brokenness and give an excuse for all of our false expectations we project on one another. We will entertain and even pop popcorn as we sit and listen to the lies of the enemy, the voice inside our heads that only focuses on the things that COULD go wrong if we actually loved one another the way our Father says to love. We smile and wave, all while drowning in feelings of inadequacy and comparison. We continue to fight with the truth that says, “You can do this,” but embrace the accusation that says, “You will never be enough.”
Oftentimes we feel brave enough to jump into new friendships, only to fall back into the game of self-pity, under the guise of “self examination.” We like to carry around the pain of our past, but find it too uncomfortable help bear the weight of our sisters’ circumstances or shortcomings. And lastly, we would rather live on the defense disillusioned by the walls within our heart than become a defender of the ones He, too, calls daughter.
That was me…every single word.
But I love what 1 Peter 4:8 says: “Above all, constantly echo God’s intense love for one another, for love will be a canopy over a multitude of sins.” If we try to love one another with our own love, we will fail every time–but when we filter it through the intensity with which HE loves us—we always win! I’ve learned in recent months that true sisterhood is not built on perfect smiles and feel good moments, although both of those things are wonderful. True sisterhood is made when you’re sitting at your friend’s house–with your kids screaming and running wild–as she weeps and allows you to peer inside her reality, not caring about being cool or relevant. True sisterhood is hanging out with your girlfriends, and instead of gossiping, you choose communion and intercession. True sisterhood is choosing to stop what’s on your to-do list because the Lord has dropped a word that He wants you to share with a friend. It’s messy, but the mess is beautiful. It requires exposure, but the exposure develops safety. It’s the “hood” I choose to surround myself with, no matter the cost…because in this sisterhood, together we are unstoppable!