“THAT’S MY SISTER!” I yelled as I sprinted across the dining hall to break up a friendly dog pile of stinky boys tackling one of my friends. It was summer, and I was a camp counselor. It felt like a rite of passage: an opportunity to love on kiddos, have new adventures and play pranks on the guy counselors. Whenever the guys ganged up on one of the girl counselors, we would drop what we were doing and come to her “rescue.” “That’s my sister” became our battle cry that summer as we, women, always promised to protect each other, whether it was much needed encouragement or a revenge plot on those stinky boy counselors.
The constant teasing back and forth was cute and funny when we were nineteen, but the sentiment of women coming to each other’s rescue always stuck with me.
Great friends protect their “sisters.”
From whatever stands in the way of them living confidently in who God made them to be.
Life is hard enough without women being hard on each other.
It sounds simple…play nice! But when we fail to protect our “sisters” from the spiritual enemy who is looking to destroy the best parts of who God made them to be, then we are letting all of us down.
As Proverbs 18:24 (NIV) says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a [sister].”
When God gifts us with friendship, we have a responsibility to steward those relationships with kindness and love. Friendship has the power “to stir up one another towards love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24 NIV). I mean, we truly can change someone’s life by creating a safe place for them to land at the end of the day, while also giving them the confidence to take risks, knowing they have someone cheering them on.
Our friendships have the influence to make or break someone. But we can also use our power as a friend to insert insecurities into her life by sharing her secrets, discouraging her gifts, or being a flaky friend.
How do we protect ourselves from falling into a pattern of being an “unreliable friend?”
How do we cultivate friendships that help each other up when we see a “sister” in need?
You protect her time.
You know when to put the phone away and give your “sister” your full attention. You initiate quality time and keep your appointments. You protect your friend time because it is sacred. With all the busyness and distractions women battle, friend time is set apart for connection, deep conversation and lots of laughter. Friend time is an opportunity to press pause, slow down and savor the gift of being with a friend.
You fight for your time together and invest in each other’s daily lives.
You protect her heart.
The heart is the most sacred place, we guard it with vigilance; for from the heart flows our entire lives (see Proverbs 4:23). As the world vies for your friend’s heart, telling her she isn’t worthy enough, beautiful enough, smart enough…you stand in the way as a living shield and fight those lies with God’s truth. You know to speak with thoughtfulness, care and love. You ask for forgiveness and give it generously.
A “sister” can be open with her dreams, her fears and her failures because you have proven you love her no matter what.
You protect her reputation.
Great friends don’t gossip or use their words to ruin a friend’s reputation. The tongue is a weapon, as women, we know this truth well. Words can damage and separate “sisters” as fast as a wildfire. Instead, we vow to shut down gossip when it begins. When we feel like something snarky or mean is bubbling up to the surface, we control our tongues. This is your “sister” we are talking about. You are to protect her reputation from mean girls spreading false rumors, and you are definitely going to apologize and take ownership for hurtful words that are bound to come from your lips.
We offer words that are “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Prov. 16:24NIV).
You protect who God made her to be.
Good friends don’t care what the world’s standard is for success. We love and support our “sisters” the way God made them. Whatever their skin color, shape or lifestyle may be; we treat them as family — equal parts of the body that all have their purpose. When the world attacks them for not being a “certain” way, we remind them God made them with their experiences and their stories to be used for His good.
In whatever ways the world intends to harm your “sisters,” God intends it for good (see Genesis 50:20). Be a positive influence that draws your friends closer to God.
Friendship is a battle. We have to fight for our “sisters”—protect them from our spiritual enemy and all the schemes he deploys to bring her down.
Because we are all looking for friendships that feel fiercely loving and don’t wilt at the first sign of difficulty. We all want friends who plan to “stick close” enough for us to be honest and raw with them. We want friends who feel like sisters — women who brush the dirt off of our shoulders, remind us just how wonderful we are, and then gently push us back out into the world.
Let’s muster up our battle cry and become our own mini-revolution — a revolution where kindness knocks down the inner-critics and love defeats the enemy’s lies. We wield our friendship influence for good, building up the community of women around us.
And when we see our “sister” in need of a good friend, we’ll be there ready to fight for her!