I’m grateful for my sisters.
· Who else would I send pics of gummy bears to?
· Who else would see how I’m holding up when my daughter moves 1,400 miles away?
· Who else would tolerate my complete disregard for commas?
Isn’t having a sister fantabulous?!
Except for when it isn’t.
There’s a hard truth about relationships, and it’s that sometimes we get hurt or we hurt others. I wish it weren’t so. After all, sisterhood is supposed to be a safe place.
It reminds me of the oath medical doctors take, “First— do no harm.” It’s a foundational principle that creates trust and paves the way for a close relationship.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a Hippocratic oath for sisters?
By definition, safe is a condition whereby a person is protected from risk and unlikely to be harmed. I’m fortunate to have been deeply loved, and in turn, deeply loved others. However, those relationships were far from risk-free, and there were episodes, even seasons, characterized by hurt or pain.
Which leads to a fair question, “Is any relationship a guaranteed safe place?”
The truth is…Authentic relationships require risk and if they continue for an extended period, hurt or pain will likely occur. #sisterhood Click To Tweet
And so, I want to know:
How can I be a safe place for my sister?
I can be present.
There is nothing like being there that lets someone know we care. When we can’t physically be present a text, card, or call can be just what our sister needs.
“Friends love through all kinds of weather…” (Prov 17:17, MSG).
I can be real.
Authenticity is essential when it comes to loving well. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is be honest. It’s important to note that truth is only helpful when the listener is ready to receive it.
Being straightforward with a sister should never be an excuse to say something unkind. Before we offer feedback, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to ready the listener and filter what we say. Most importantly, if we can’t speak in love, we shouldn’t speak at all.
“Wounds from a friend can be trusted” (Proverbs 27:5-6, NIV).
I can love like Jesus.
This is a tall order, but when we ask God to help us love like Jesus, it’s a prayer He’s eager to answer.
Loving like Christ will manifest itself in different ways. Jesus served. Jesus provided. Jesus offered to heal. But if there is a marked characteristic regarding how Jesus loved, it is that He sacrificed. If I want to love my sister well, my two-fold prayer must be:
“Jesus show me what it looks like to sacrificially care for my sister and then by the power of your Holy Spirit, enable me to do it.”
“Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends” (John 15:12-12, MSG).
What do I do when sisterhood hasn’t been a safe place for me?
A couple of days before our daughter’s wedding, things had gotten relationally ugly. Record high temperatures that accompanied the stress of preparing for an outdoor wedding resulted in record-high tempers.
I said a cuss word out-loud that I’d never uttered before (at least not in front of my children). The daughter wondered why she hadn’t eloped. The son wondered why he hadn’t run away. The father was still was wondering how he was going to pay for it all. Friends, it was a no good, very bad day.
My niece had arrived a few days before the wedding, and when she asked how things were going, I was honest. “It’s been crazy, Rach. And we haven’t handled it well. How is it that we can take something so wonderful and make such a mess of it?”
She assured me that she knew exactly what I was talking about and that we were normal. It was then that I asked, “So, what’s the answer?” Without missing a beat, she gave me a slight smile and said,
In other words, the solution wasn’t that there was a guarantee for keeping things from going awry. The REAL remedy was in knowing how we were going to respond when the relational botch-ups occurred.
In even the safest of places, there will be mess-ups. There will be potential hurts. There will be risks.
But thanks to Jesus, there can also always be forgiveness.