I had a brief and unexpected conversation today with a wonderful "sister" I just recently met. She was being real (LOVE IT!) and opening her heart about a newfound joy in her life. While she was talking, she was moved to tears several times. I was honored to have stumbled upon her at such an emotional moment, and the beauty of it has left me pensive and quiet - neither of which are my normal state of being.
I've been pondering all day trying to ascertain why I'm feeling this melancholy.
I think I've figured it out.
The joy my "sister" was referring to was the incredible pleasure of having relationship with your peers.
In essence, she had made friends.
And it was so wonderful, she was crying about it.
Let's break this down.
I was talking to an intelligent, loving, capable, talented, humorous, friendly woman, who was right around my age, and she was weeping over the joy of making friends.
I know that friendship is invaluable, and I know that it is among the greatest joys in this life. So I understand why my friend was happy.
But at the same time, something struck me as a bit odd. Because surely a woman this fantastic has a whole list of friends.
The truth is, this sister's story just isn't that unusual. Especially in the church.
Within the walls of modern day church, we have come under the very right and godly idea that we should "go into all the world and make disciples of all men." So we begin to shape our lives around the people that we can disciple.
This means that we spend much of our time ministering to others. Meeting their needs. Bringing them up in the things of the Lord. Helping them. Sharing with them. Laying down our lives for them.
And when we get tired, or lonely, or drained, we turn to the people who disciple us. And we let them do the building up, and pouring in, and we get filled and go right back out there to find some more people to disciple.
And in theory, this is how it is meant to be.
But in reality, the life of a Christian can be a very isolated place.
Because we have forgotten the value of relationships with our peers. Not those we minister to, or those who minister to us, but those we walk alongside. In shared vision. In shared purpose. Who help us as needed, and who we help when they need it. People who are true friends.
It was precisely because this woman was intelligent, loving, capable, talented, humorous and friendly that she was in such great demand as a minister. She was giving all her gifts and talents to God, and had discipled hundreds of people.
And only now understood her great need for peer-based friendship.
In fact, she said that she didn't know she was starving for it until God gave it to her, and now she wouldn't live without it.
She discovered that she needed sisters for real.
As do we all.
The reason I was so pensive and quiet is because I forgot, just for a moment, how many women go through life without real friendship, without real sisters. My heart is broken for how many years she went without. Broken for how many people go without knowing the joy of sisterhood.
The very right idea of ministering to others should not be discarded. We are called to minister. Yet we are also called into right relationship with people who walk beside us. Like Paul and Barnabas. David and Jonathan. Thelma and Louise.
Real friendship is hard to find. But immeasurably important. It takes being vulnerable. Letting people into your heart. Loving them even when they hurt you. Allowing them to correct you. Being held accountable.
But it also gives countless hours of laughter. The joy of being encouraged in the Lord. Fun. Strengthening. True wealth.
If you don't have friendship in your life, I pray that God will open the door for you to find it.
If you can relate to the feeling of always ministering or being ministered to, and have the deep longing for relationships with your peers, I pray that God will bring you to people who will walk alongside you.
And if you need a sister, I'd be happy to sign up.