What comes to mind when you think of sisterhood? Do you feel excited? Or does the word make you grimace? Do you feel uncomfortable or awkward? I know there are a lot of negative feelings toward the concept of a ‘sisterhood’ or simply being in community with other women, because I’ve felt them myself.
So today I’m going to clean out the trash and bust four rubbish lies that you might be believing about sisterhood. Let’s dive in and find out the truth!
1. It's all fluff and love
Have you ever thought that the concept of sisterhood is all fluffy and lovey dovey but that there’s not much depth to it? I have, and I can tell you from experience that it’s easy to cast judgement on something that you haven’t gotten to know the heart of.
It’s also easy to cast judgement on something when you’re not really secure in yourself. Have you heard it said that insecure people tear others down, not because of the problem with the other person or thing but because of a problem in their own heart. I’ve got to admit that this has, sadly, been true for me.
When I was in my teens, I would look at communities like women’s ministries or connect groups or even close female friendship groups and think to myself “There’s too much fluffy, lovey stuff going on there, it’s not my thing.” After thinking this way for a few years, there came a point when I actually had to look at myself and say “Stop, what’s the actual problem here? Is it a problem I have with that person or community or is it with the fact that I’ve had some bad experiences with other women in the past? Am I afraid to be open and vulnerable with other women because I’ve been hurt before? Could it be that I’m seeing everything through the lens of a bad experience?”
I want to challenge you on this. Is it that the community of women gathering together is too fluffy and lovey dovey for you, or is it in fact that, like I did, you are seeing sisterhood through a broken lens? If that’s the case, I encourage you to ask God to help you redefine sisterhood - he did for me! And hey, if you’re not comfortable with the word ‘sisterhood’ then think of it as this: ‘friendship’, ‘community’, or ‘women doing life together’, because that’s really what it is.
Here’s what the bible says about doing life together.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)
Ask God to help you see community as he intended it to be - a gathering of people to support and encourage one another through life’s ups and downs, to pray with each other, to teach and learn from one another, and to enjoy life together. If you feel like your community is lacking, ask God to provide great women in your life, and ask him how you can reach out and be this kind of woman in someone else’s life too. God won’t fail you.
2. Other women are competition
As women, we’ve been conditioned to tear one another down - to gossip behind one another’s backs, to back stab each other to get ahead in the workplace and to leave one another out. But the lie that we have to compete is one of the biggest lies that has ever been told - it is so destructive! In fact, I think it really holds us back from experiencing community as God designed it to be, because when we look at another woman as someone to compete with, we devalue them - they become a thing to beat, not a person to value.
In my own experience, I enjoy life so much more and find a greater purpose when I’m supporting and working alongside others, rather than running my own lonely race. But we shouldn’t just embrace community for our own sakes, community is for all of us. God hasn’t called you to live an inward-facing life, he has called us to live an outward-facing life, and that means it’s not all about you! If you’re going to live life in community as God intended it to be, you need to break free from competing and comparing.
Firstly, remember that you add your own flavour and unique point of difference - boldly pursue the things that are on your heart, knowing that your Father in Heaven has created you on purpose for purpose.
Secondly, if there is bitterness and resentment in your heart toward another lady, spend time praying for her - pray for her to succeed in what she puts her hand to, and pray for health in her relationships. Spend time asking God to help you to see her and love her the way that he does. When that itty bitty ounce of bitterness spikes up again, pray again and again and again.
Will you join me in busting the lie that other women are competition? Will you spend your life working with others and building them up, knowing full well that someone else’s success does not diminish your own? Celebrate your God-given talents, your passions and wins, knowing that you have been created with intention by a God who has a great purpose for your life and for the girl next to you.
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3. It’s gossipy and fake
Maybe you’ve disregarded the idea of sisterhood or having community with other women because you’ve believed it’s gossipy and fake. I kind of think you’re right. Most women love a good chat, and we’ve all stuck our foot in it before, saying something rude about someone to someone else. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept this as the status quo.
As Christians, God has called us to be different. Have a look at the following scripture.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 (ESV)
This scripture talks about testing to discern what the will of God is - what is good and acceptable and perfect. Is the will of God to talk badly about others or is it to speak encouragement and life? It is the latter.
While the way you talk about others may never be perfect (this side of heaven), don’t settle with average. Ask God to help you be mindful when you speak about others, so that you would speak well of them. As I’m sure you’ve heard it said before: “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it at all!” Words can hurt and do a lot of damage, but they can also encourage and uplift - let’s choose the latter and redefine sisterhood.
4. It’s exclusive
When you hear the words ‘sisterhood’ or ‘community’ do you think ‘hey, maybe that’s just for those girls, it’s not for me’? Maybe you think that it’s some sort of exclusive girl gang that only the popular girls at school or ‘super spiritual’ women at church get to be a part of. Maybe you think it’s just not for you.
And maybe that’s because you’ve been burnt by exclusivity - your friends formed a tight-knit group without you, or your colleagues didn’t ask you to grab coffee with them. I’ve been there. I’ve felt the burn of exclusivity, I’ve cried over it and felt so lonely. Even when I feel like a have a great group of friends around me, every now and then it can still hurt to be left out. I’m sure you’ve been there too. I really don’t think anyone is immune to it - even the most popular, pretty or social girl you know! I also think that we’re all culprits of exclusivity - we’re creatures of comfort, and sometimes inviting someone who we don’t know as well as others can be a little uncomfortable, so we’d rather just stick with who we know. I get it, I’ve been there too.
But over the last few years I’ve had a stirring in my heart - a stirring for community that is inclusive, for community that is thoughtful, for community that really sees people. Sure, we won’t always get it right, but I think we can try.
The good thing is that we don’t have to try on our own. I’m thankful that we have the Holy Spirit, the greatest helper, to lead and guide us. If we want to be more inclusive in our communities, we can start by asking the Holy Spirit to help us be more attentive, more aware of those who may feel left out, and more thoughtful of those who we can include.
While some of these myths may have some truth to them at times - (they may have actually been your reality in some circumstances), they don’t have to define your experience of sisterhood or community.
I know from experience that there is an easy route. The easy route is to complain about sisterhood being all ‘fluff and love’, it’s to treat other women like they are competition, it’s to gossip behind each others’ backs, and it’s to be exclusive rather than inclusive. But taking the easy route leads to broken relationships and hurting people. If we want to experience community and sisterhood at its best, then we need to be different and take the challenging route that may, at times, be a little tricky and awkward to navigate.
The challenging route calls you to be the change in your group of friends, in your workplace or in your home. But by you treating other women with kindness and understanding, and by working with and supporting them instead of tearing them down, others will see the difference that this kind of community makes. Sure, maybe not every single person will see take the challenging route of community over competition because, after all, it’s not going to be easy. But you can and, as you do, be encouraged because you will impact those around you. After all, God has called you to live an outward-facing life - so live it!