Love one another with brotherly (SISTERLY!) affection.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:10 ESV (‘sisterly’ – my liberty)

 

3,000 miles away and 22 years ago just found me.  Seriously, God will stop at nothing to deal with this girl.  He must pay angels overtime for cases like mine.

But I’m getting ahead of the story…. It actually started when I was drying my hair, leaning with one knee resting on the sink, as I’ve done since my legs overtook my body, around age 13.  I suppose I was absentmindedly talking to God, not super focused, mind you.  But the thought snuck in my head and seemed to enjoy hitting me between the eyes: Women.

Our new pastor had been trying to find a place for me in this ministry where Steve and I were certain God was calling us to plant roots.  We’d ruled out a lot of areas and I was starting to think the toilets were next (given my history with the Father, this was not entirely irrational).  But the heat of that hair dryer must have opened my mind just enough to hear the Holy Spirit screaming over the sound of forced air. WOMEN’S MINISTRY, HEATHER LYNN!

Why hadn’t I seen it?  Essentially, I’ve already been doing this for a long time, I’d just never given it a title.  Bonus?  There was seemingly nothing like this available at our young and hungry church.

Voilà!  A ministry is born!! …Except, you know, it wasn’t.  Nope. Nope. Nope.  I was turned down.  Because sometimes (heck, A LOT of times) the answer is “No” even after God’s already told you “Yes”.

I wasn’t hurt, ego wasn’t bruised, but I was, most definitely, perplexed… stunned even.  Thank goodness, the Father made it crystal clear in that moment – “Girl, keep your mouth shut and let me do My thing.”  Something, mind you, that comes as natural to me as, say, peeing standing up.  But, yeah, OK, I hear you.

[Insert details, details, 8 months, more details… all the while, I’m waiting and His momentum is building]

Then, just a few weeks ago, I sat at my dining room table with 3 of the most influential women in our church.  Our discussion?  Launching a Women’s Ministry together, mind you, with the blessing of our Lead Pastor.  And the momentum was palpable.  Don’t ask me how this happened, it’s still fuzzy, I’ve been busy keeping my mouth shut. 😉

We were each gifted a copy of “Sisterhood”, a book by Bobbie Houston, co-founder of Hillsong, the Australian church that’s changing the face of Christian ministry the world over.  She’s pioneered a movement of women that’s catching fire.  The goal: Find some inspiration and vision to translate what’s already been working and adapt it to the Father’s heart for our city – for our church.

I read about 12 pages in as many days.  Life. Is. Busy.  So I packed the book to bring along on our family summer break  – From my nightstand directly into the roller from our luggage closet it went.

That’s why this is crazy.  And that’s when it happened.

Kids were splashing.  I was sweating in the sun while reading an account of the small seeds that have now grown into a massive ministry, when a gust of wind turned the pages of my book and something floated out, skipping away.  Imagine my shock to find a black and white photo from 1995 of myself and a girlfriend from high school.  A picture I haven’t seen in decades.  How in the world??  Not really knowing what else to do, I shook the mystery off, slipped it back in the book, and kept reading.

But that dang photo wouldn’t get out of my head.  And I started thinking.  Sisterhood?  Honestly, the term doesn’t bring me warm and cozy feelings.  My experience?  Girls are mean.  Even the nice ones.  Even the Christian ones.  Just give them time.  Even at my best – jealousy, judgments, intolerance, malice and worse – slip on in.  I’ve been both a frequent target of mean girls and, sadly, one mean girl, myself.

Because if your butt is too tiny, we’re gonna hate you.  Or, wait, rewind. It’s all about that bass, so if your butt is too large we’re gonna hate you.  And by hating, I, of course mean, we will not “like” your Instagram pic.  Because we all know that not liking sends a more pronounced message than clicking on that tiny heart (?).

And the girl in the smiling picture circa ’95?  She was kind and beautiful and popular and I spent most of K thru 12 completely threatened by her (aka unkind to her).  She represented everything I felt I wasn’t.  By the time we’d graduated, we weren’t really friends at all.  She’d pulled away from most everyone.  And she’s one of the only people who never surfaced on social media.  For years I’ve searched for ways to contact her, but she doesn’t want to be found.  Not by me.

Thankfully, I’m not 17 anymore.  And, I’d like to believe, after all these years of chasing hard after the Father’s heart, I’d never be so calloused to trample on yours.  But that little girl sits somewhere in me still.  She’s more refined, less tragic, yet she rears her brunette head somedays.  And, while it has so much more to do with my own insecurities than it has anything to do with you, its effects remain the same.  Girls, truly, can cause the deepest wounds because we know how to make the pain stick.

If you don’t count yourself in this category, you have my deepest respect, I’d like to sit at your feet for a moment. But I challenge you to dig deep, see truthfully: Where does your heart go when a friend finds great success, or loses 25 pounds, or has money to burn, or keeps a cleaner home, or whose kids are shockingly respectful, or whose efforts are highlighted over your own?

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.” Proverbs 24:17 ESV

SISTERHOOD.

We need to pray for a change in INSTINCT before such a concept can capture us.

I want to be your sister.  But not a counterfeit version that smiles for a black and white photo, yet has no real right to the most valued places of your heart.  And I want you to know me, the very best and the very worst – because together, they tell my story – my testimony.

In this book, now sitting at my side, that unexplained photo is snuggly marking page 86, where a paragraph written by Mrs. Houston has lassoed my heart:

“True friendship is uncomplicated. It may not be perfect, but if it is pure in spirit it will allow for the ebb and flow of life.

It’s generous, encouraging, and never competitive. It’s not easily threatened and leaps to the defense or protection of those to whom it is loyal. It remains faithful in all seasons, is tested with the passage of time, and always finds grace to forgive when forgiveness is needed. It believes the best of one another and is undaunted when distance or busyness of life creates a widening space between the last coffee or shared giggle and the present.”

Essentially, modern day I Cor 13 kind-of-living for the ladies.

Writing this blog doesn’t change my approach.  Reading this blog doesn’t change your approach.  Getting serious with the Father, honest with yourself, and initiating a shift just might, though.  Let’s recognize our instinctual tendencies when it comes to the ladies in the house.  Be honest about the junk we have to overcome (regularly) in order to love purely and gracefully.  Open Instagram and like someone with a tiny (I mean big) beautiful butt.  Hey, gals, it’s a start!

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32 ESV  (He’s so terribly good at reminding us why we do what we do…)

Let’s not forget the other thing about women?  When we love right, we love so incredibly well that the healing hands of Christ are ushered in with it.  When we support each other with purity, we are a dramatic force with which to be reckoned.  And when we put our mind to something – together – it can change what seems impossible.  No wonder the Father is raising an army of His girls.  My hand is up.  Where is yours?


To my pictured friend from years ago, I pray your bright light has found a fertile home in family, friends and ministry.  And my deep desire is that the Father restores 100-fold what jealous girls like myself tried to steal.  Thank you for being used, even today, to teach me more about the truth and adventure of true sisterhood.