Sisterhood is Knowing You’re Not Alone

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:5-7, NIV

Have you ever had one of those days when your insecurities took over? On this particular day, I didn’t set out to be down on myself, but I was triggered by a simple question asked among my sisterhood group—“Do you feel safe sharing here with us?”

Although I felt safe enough to answer honestly, the truth was that I felt safe only because I know how kind and generous my friends are… not because I felt like the person I am is worthy of being accepted.

I sit in awe of these women I call friends. They are compassionate and passionate, driven and capable—and their whole world seems to revolve around Jesus. They love others because they know what it’s like to be loved by Him. They share their stories openly and often because they’ve experienced the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. They are beautiful and generous and intelligent and kind. They teach at churches and build ministries and host Bible studies and can summon genuine tears at the mere thought of someone not having the opportunity to find Jesus like they have. They are authentic and their faith sustains them through all of it.

And then there’s me. The one who struggles with having any kind of organized, structured quiet time. The one who sometimes goes weeks in between sessions in which I read the Bible.

I have spent years wondering where—or if—I fit in in the Church as a whole. Wondering if our Americanized version of Christianity misses the boat. Wondering if the fact that my beliefs don’t match everyone else’s means mine are wrong, or theirs are, or if that even matters. Trying to discern what God really calls us to do—which things are beneficial for us, and which things are legalistic ideas imposed on us by people instead of by God.

While I’ve always been exceptionally grateful to be part of the Sisterhood Ministries, I feel like an imposter. Like I don’t belong, but these other women are nice enough to look the other way and include me anyway. Sure, I can put forward the “right” image—after all, I’ve been fortunate enough to have published two books through a traditional Christian publisher—but that feels like a fluke to me. Like I was given the opportunity in spite of my flaws, not because of my strengths.

So when I was asked that question, I answered truthfully: Yes, I feel safe sharing, but I don’t feel like I belong with all of you. The reason I shared those specific reasons was not to make these women come back to me with compliments and assurance that they accepted me… but because I knew that these feelings were not of God. This insecurity and dissatisfaction with myself could grow into a big wedge, damaging our group, if I let it fester. And I loved them too much to allow what was holding me back to hurt them.

Because even in my moments of weakness, one thing I know is this:

Feelings of shame need to be brought into God’s light, because His light pushes back the darkness and reveals truth. #sisterhood Click To Tweet

Once I admitted my feelings, within minutes, encouragement began rolling in. One woman said that she’d been afraid to share a really personal prayer request, but because I’ve shown her how to be vulnerable, she’d been brave enough to do it. Another woman wrote that she guards herself and is afraid that if people really knew her, they wouldn’t like her, but we continue to point her back to Jesus when she needs to make a U-turn. One woman wrote, “Your truth that you shared is the definition of what Sisterhood looks like and I believe your emotions today will be a healing point for other sisters tomorrow.”

Finally, another friend summed it all up:

Interestingly enough, the fact that most, if not all, feel they are the weakest link is beautiful. With God, we are a chain that links together and makes a whole. #sisterhood Click To Tweet

That’s exactly what these sisters did for me that day: brought me back around, and made me feel whole. Because we all got real and stopped hiding our insecurities, God used that to encourage and uplift me—and them, too.

Our culture would have us believe that other women are watching us, just waiting for us to fail so they can ridicule and condemn us. There are certainly some of those people out there.

But this experience taught me that true friendship is about being in it together. About opening our hearts, letting our authentic selves show, and welcoming others in. About trusting in the kindness of others and allowing them to accept us, even if we don’t feel worthy. About letting God work through the words of friends, and being willing to take that first step in vulnerability—because what came out of this moment was a stronger bond, a shared experience—and the glory of God’s light shining into my life, erasing the darkness and revealing new beauty.

Sisterhood is learning that, no matter how we feel at a given moment, we are not alone.

Reflection Questions

We often aren’t aware that other people struggle with many of the same insecurities that we do. Think about your friendships or groups that you belong to. Do you feel safe sharing your feelings with them? If not, why not?

What can you do to create an environment where others feel safe?

Ask God to reveal to you when you should open up—when to take that first step—towards building more open, more authentic friendships.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, You are so good to us. When we are able to be honest and open with each other, You strengthen us in ways we might not expect. Shine Your glorious light onto our insecurities and doubts, and replace them with kindness, generosity, and acceptance. Thank You for the sisters You have placed into our lives. If we haven’t found those people yet, we ask You to lead them to us—but not just for our own benefit. Please use us as instruments to shine into other people’s lives, too. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

16 thoughts on “Sisterhood is Knowing You’re Not Alone

Renee Parks

Good morning Kelly.
I have been in some relationships where I shared my feelings, but did not get heard or was called a name like a “freak” for thinking or feeling a certain way. So I do not fully open up to many people. I think for the most part of my life I have been a listener more than s talker, but there are times when I get on a roll & won’t shut up. I think we can make people more comfortable to opening up by listening to what they have to say & not judging them. If they are going through a bad time give them a hug & words of encouragement. Thank you for sharing your story. Have a good week.

Reply

    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Renee, unfortunately, that has been the case for a lot of people… and there have been times when it didn’t go this well for me, too. Thanks for taking the time to respond. Absolutely, we need more good listeners and less judgment. So glad you are here!

    Reply

Nancy Silvers

Oh Kelly, how did you get into my head this morning? Everything you wrote fits me to a T. I am blessed with three friends, I met through online ministry, that I can be totally honest and they with me. It’s all done through an app, no face to face sharing, and sometimes that is hard. Days, like today when I cried over a tree being taken out by last nights storm I could really use a hug. It was a tree I planted on Mother’s Day early in my separation from my daughter and when I gazed at it somehow it gave me hope of reconciliation. Now it lays sheared in half-the trunk standing and the beautiful top, with its leaves showing fall color, on the ground. Thank you for your honesty and thank you for expanding my prayer life through your books. I think I need to grab some colored pencils or crayons and go pray out of the box. Love you sweet sister!

Reply

    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Nancy, you are the sweetest and kindest and most genuine… a truly amazing woman. I know you are important to many people… But it’s so hard when you just need a hug and no one is right there. The fallen tree must be devastating, so let’s pray right now.

    Lord Jesus, You make all things new. I lift up Nancy and her daughter and pray for reconciliation… for hope… please don’t let Nancy look at the tree and see shattered hopes, but instead see the awesomeness of Your power. Your ability to shatter our expectations and do what needs to be done. Your ability to blast through the defenses we put up—in the most gentle and loving ways—to bring hope. Wrap Your loving arms around her and let her feel Your presence. Bring into her life trusted people who can offer tangible encouragement. Continue to dwell in her heart and shine through her into other peoples’ lives. Amen.

    Reply

      Nancy Silvers

      Amen Kelly, I feel kind of foolish and like an impostor crying over a tree so many have much more devastating losses. I am grateful I can come to this sisterhood and share my real, raw, feelings. Thank you for your kind words and prayer.❤️

      Reply

Barb

Wow Kelly, this was powerful.. thanks for being so vulnerable with all of us. I know you probably speak for many of us who have those same dark thoughts that have been with us our whole lives. Lies. Lies that separate us instead of unite. I’m doing this very small group study by Sandy Stanley called Comparison Trap. It speaks directly about this and how it’s so hard to celebrate others lives and accomplishments. I’m so grateful to have this small group of friends where we can share our most significant and authentic thoughts together. You’re right, that’s what Sisterhood is all about. Thanks for reminding us it’s okay to have questions and insecurities as long as we can share them or confess them first to Christ and then to our sisters. ❤️

Reply

    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Thanks for the encouragement, Barb. You are a beautiful part of this amazing Sisterhood, and I’m grateful.

    Reply

Helena

Great word Kelly, thank you for sharing.

Reply

    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Thanks for reading, Helena! 🙂

    Reply

Jean Mirgan

Thank you, Kelly. You are such an influence to so many..including me. The thoughts that ripple through our minds that separate us from Jesus are so very hard to conquer. But in the end…through prayers, friends and Sisters get us through. I cannot imagine getting through some of these mind , Worldly thoughts and just plain words from others ..,.how to non-Christians get through these things? I am so grateful to have Sisters to feel comfortable talking about what is bothering us. Thank you, Kelly and Sisters! 😘

Reply

    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Jean, you are always so full of encouragement and kind words. I’m so glad the message of the Sisterhood is resonating for you. It is so good to have sisters to share our thoughts with and help us work through the turmoil!

    Reply

Jean Morgan

I am sorry…that’s Jean Morgan…

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Gaby

Whoa!!! I been wrestling with this thoughts for a few months now, to the point where depression and anxiety tried to come in. I chose to believe I am created for a greater purpose. But it has been hard to connect and find that safe place to express this feelings. I am grateful for this space and you Kelly for being so transparent and allowing us to go deep in your heart.

Reply

    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Gaby, thanks for trusting us and choosing to believe this is a safe space. That is our hope and prayer. I think God chooses to put sisters in our life to help balance us when we feel down, and to use us when we’re doing OK and our sisters are down. It’s a beautiful tradeoff. It’s scary expressing our inner feelings, and I know that not everyone who tries gets a good response. But all we can do is keep trying to be that safe space for someone else. Thanks for writing!

    Reply

Brandy Richardson

Thanks so much for sharing Kelly. And sister… you are not alone when it comes to struggling with structured quiet time LOL I wake up every day with the best of intentions and always manage to get sidelined. I literally refer to myself as “squirrel girl” cause I get thrown off course that quick! And feeling like the odd duck, that is often me too. Because I struggle with poor memory and comprehension, I feel like I am always behind the 8 ball when it comes to bible studies and such. To the point that I often feel intimidated by how much some women know about the word. I love the Lord and I love the Word but because of those weaknesses, I sometimes get frustrated of reading but not understanding. But then I think about my strengths and the other ways God uses me. I don’t have an official ministry but God has allowed me to walk through life with women all over the world that he has connected me to in the most random ways. And I find that God will give me verses to share, so I guess the Word is sinking in somehow LOL

I do feel safe sharing with others and have come to embrace my ability to be transparent. Not that I blab everything to everyone but if God puts it on my heart to share something that He has brought me through, then I am confident there is someone in my presence that needs to hear it. I feel that because I am open with people and I make it evident to them that I am a “judgement free” zone, that it helps them lower their walls a bit and share things that they might not normally offer up. Some friendships are hard to build though, as people have been extremely burned by others, so I just follow the promptings of the Spirit and allow Him to lead me in conversations and relationships that I’m not sure of. Mainly I try to create a safe space and pray that God will work in and through it.

Reply

    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one! Sometimes I think it’s time for me to once and for all conquer this lack of discipline I have… but at other times, I feel God prompting me to stop comparing myself to other people. So I guess it’ll be an ongoing struggle for now, at least :-). Thanks for feeling safe here and sharing. I really relate to all that you wrote and I’m so glad you also are trying to help pave the way for others to be open! I’m so glad for the ways you’ve gotten involved here and look forward more and more to getting to know you better!

    Reply

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