just a little something
to begin your week.
My writing time this week has been devoted to a talk I am preparing for this coming Saturday at my church. The subject is “Women and Their Sisters,” a topic we are discussing in our 12-week class on Biblical Womanhood. Thankfully the topic isn’t limited to blood sisters because although I asked for one every Christmas, I never found a sister wrapped under the tree. However, I am so thankful to have a close relationship with my mom, mother-in-law, sister-in-laws, cousins and dear girl friends. They have sufficiently met the sister-need for me, and I am so grateful.
As I studied the Scripture and brainstormed about the topic of sisters, I found three main relationship categories we share with the women in our lives: women who are our friends, women we can learn from, and women we can build into. I thought I’d share with you a few thoughts and some self-reflections questions about each relationship that I have been thinking about this week.
I feel so blessed to share in the friendships with so many amazing women across so many seasons of life. Some of my friends have known me since before I entered preschool while others are friends I’ve just gotten to know while living in Chicago. I have always been very relational and enjoyed having many friends around me, but walking through my health crisis the last year and a half has highlighted how special my friends are. They have encouraged me when I needed a note, a hug, a phone call, a meal, or a prayer. They have listened to me and cried with me. They have spoken truth back to me when I needed a reminder. They have counseled me when I needed wisdom and held me accountable when I needed support. They have sharpened me “as iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17), and my heart feels so full!
And although I feel so incredibly grateful for my lifelong friendships, I also have realized how much I miss such friends since moving to Chicago. Moving here almost three years ago was extremely difficult for me because I left behind a wonderful network of friends and was presented with the opportunity to begin the daunting task of building a community all over again. Meeting new people isn’t hard for me but cultivating deep, soul friends is challenging and takes plenty of time and shared experiences. Tack on the fast pace and sprawling neighborhoods in the city, and I have found myself feeling quite lonely for kindred spirits.
God has been teaching me several things about friendships through this transition:
One, find my companionship in Christ and enjoy the intimate time I have with Him.
Two, make an effort to keep in touch with my kindred spirits living many states away. (So thankful for the annual trip my college roommates and I consistently plan. Talk about life-giving to me!)
Three, take risks in getting to know new friends in Chicago and spend time investing in these friendships. (Hence, one of the reasons I am serving on the women’s team at my church, along with other new opportunities.)
If you’re like me and find yourself in a new city, you may need the extra encouragement to take a risk and make a friend while doing something you enjoy. If you’ve dug deep roots where you live and already have a full plate of friends, maybe it’s time to take some time to reflect on your friendships. Here are a few questions I am asking myself:
- What friendships do I sense God leading me to nurture because they bring out my best and draw me closer to God?
- Where do I need to take a risk in my friendships?
- What friendships need some tender loving care? (For more helpful information, click here.)
- What friendships may be hindering my growth toward becoming the woman God wants me to be? What is God leading me to do in these friendships so that I take steps closer to Him?
Women we can learn from
I look back at the different seasons of my life and I love seeing the women God placed in my life for me to learn from: my show choir teacher, a professor’s wife, my supervising teacher while student teaching (and lucky me, she is now my mother-in-law), my boss, and my Bible study leader, just to name a few. It’s not that they figured life out; it’s that they were willing to invite me into their life and share with me what they were learning along the way. And I’m so, so grateful they extended the invitation because I am so much better for it.
A few thoughts to consider if you are looking for a mentor:
First, as you serve in an area that you are passionate about is there someone serving around you who you could ask to mentor you? Sometimes it takes common interests and lots of courage!
Second, are you surrounding yourself with opportunities to get to know older women or are you only around women your own age? We must say no to something in order to say yes to something else.
Third, and most important, pray for God to bring the right woman into your life with whom you could learn from. It’s amazing how God intersects our lives with the right people at the right time!
I love this excerpt from a blog entry written by Jennifer Fenske about mentoring on the encouraging blog, incourage:
We were joined together in a professional mentoring relationship, she and I, but after one Starbucks trip, we discovered we knew each other as sisters—the eternal kind. Through each challenge, I tried to whisper, “You are a daughter of the King.” I gave her my attention. I gave her my love. Because you see, I am a mess, and I know it.
Being a mentor means a lot of things, but it also means you face yourself each week over Starbucks. Except it’s you 15 years ago. And there are no grays, and no pesky lines. The younger you is ready for life, thinner and supposedly more optimistic.
There was no rule book, no set of guidelines I could Google. So, I brought myself. I listened, I cared. I looked into her eyes and gave her hard truths when she needed them. She started attending my Bible study. I prayed for her. And when she had a setback at work, when her internship started to cave in on her, I took a deep breath and we picked up the pieces.
In short, I refused to give up on her. Even when the world was ready to kick her teeth in—again. I didn’t give up because the King doesn’t give up on me. Am I perfect? Oh, heavens, no. But I have learned to walk and pray. To sigh and pray. To whisper to Jesus, “I am a big mess. Take it and do something that matters.” May we mentor younger women with our hearts filled with empathy and hope. May younger women seek the counsel of smart and caring women. Whatever side of the bistro table we find ourselves on, may we clasp hands and whisper with courage, “Your mess is no match for my God. Let me show you what He can do.”
Women we can build into
One of my passions in life is to share my story with girls a few steps behind me. I love sharing what God has done in my life and the lessons He’s taught me along the way. I had the privilege before I moved to Chicago to spend time with high school girls as my full-time job. I absolutely loved what I did and loved meeting these girls each week for Bible Study and throughout the week for coffee dates where we chatted about their lives and relationships with God. It’s my joy to still maintain touch with them even though we live many states away and we continue to talk about boys, friends, school, and our relationships with God.
In Titus 2:3-5, Paul encourages Titus and the Christians to “teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. [In the Message version, it says “models of goodness.”] Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
Since the Bible clearly encourages us to train younger women, I take this admonition very seriously. A few questions for us to consider:
- Who am I intentionally speaking into and encouraging?
- If I am not building into a younger woman at this time, who is God leading me to meet with and encourage?
- What is holding me back from building into someone? Fear? Insecurity? Busyness?
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I have been studying Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Bible Study. I was very moved by her words on the subject of spiritual mothering: “I believe our girlish dreams to have babies represent even more than the obvious. They represent a desire to have fruitful lives, to invest ourselves in something that matters. Something that affects. Something that grows…God created you to bear much fruit…When older women pour their lives into younger women and their children they are birthing spiritual offspring!…What about you? Are you discovering a few opportunities to rear spiritual children?”(pg 142, 143).
May we each take the appropriate time to reflect and hear from God on how to positively influence the sisters in our lives. It’s well worth the effort we give!