Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.
When I was nine years old, my family started going to a new church. We were homeschooled, and so I didn’t really have a grade and I was told to choose if I wanted to be in the 2nd-3rd grade or 4th-5th grade class for Sunday School. There was a tight knit group of cool girls in the older class, and I decided that I wanted to be one of them and I joined their class hoping that I would be accepted. They weren’t mean to me, but for whatever reason I was just never integrated into their clique.
In the younger class, Hannah was the pastor’s daughter, and she was the happiest little nerdy kid that you could dream up. She had freckles and wore glasses and didn’t try to fit in at all. And she desperately wanted to be my friend. She pursued me, even as I was trying to force myself into the good favor of the cool girls.
Eventually I did give up on the popular clique and started hanging out with Hannah. And let me tell you, the difference was insane. I had been trying to measure up, trying to talk about cooler things and wear cooler clothes, and listen to cooler music. I had been changing myself to make this group like me. But friendship with Hannah was safe. I could be my tomboy fun loving self without fearing that she would roll her eyes and glance at her friends like, who is this chick?
God has brought me to that same place a few different times in life. I think that I have this whacked idea in my head about who I want to be around and who I want to impress, but God keeps providing me the weirdos. And you know what? When I get over myself and love those weirdos, I realize how much of a weirdo I am too.
Safety is such an important thing in Christian friendship and community. Our souls need a place to unload all of our fears, worries, and most of all the ugly sin that plagues us. And we need people who will say, “me too.”
I think of how safe and secure we are in the love of God. How he knows every gross thing in our past, every bitter thought, every jealous and petty word, and still he loves us completely. I want my friendships to emulate that feeling of safety.
What is the difference between a safe friendship and an unsafe one? I can’t say that those girls were bad people just because I didn’t connect with them, it is totally possible that they had great friendships with each other and were able to really share their hearts in their little group. But if I want to cultivate a community where women can feel secure, knowing that we are all intentionally sharing our crap with one another and are, therefore, vulnerable, there needs to be some ground rules that make it a safe place to open up.
Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
I think this passage is a good place to camp when we are talking about safety in Christian community. If we are being compassionate, kind, humble, meek, & patient, will we break each other’s confidence? If we are bearing with one another, forgiving each other, and loving each other, will we be judgemental and rude? Will we be exclusive? I don’t think so.
The goal is to love God with all of our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves. So when I invite you to be part of my sisterhood, I need to be the safe place for you that I want you to be for me.
Many Sparrows Sisterhood is meant to be that place. When we disagree (as we are bound to), let’s go back to the Bible and pray for resolution, and if we can’t find it, let’s respect each other’s right to their own belief and relationship with God. Let’s commit to peace, to being a support system when someone is struggling, to opening our arms and our hearts in love.
Each Christian woman is a complex mix of beliefs and experiences, and sometimes we don’t mesh with each other well. But we aren’t meant to live in isolation. I’m willing to show my inner weirdo if it means that you feel safe being a little weird too.