First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all of the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.
To me that scripture embodies sisterhood. That we would be able to use our own individual talents, gifts, experiences and unique traits to encourage and build each other up. To not just grow in our faith together, but to grow the kingdom of God together. It all starts with unity. It’s the main message we need to absorb. Even with different opinions and circumstances and beliefs there's an opportunity to unify through those differences. And when people unify in hard times where adversity seems to be at its peak, differences can be made. Moments where doom seems to set in, if we make strides to unify, hope starts to creep in and fill all of the gaps that divide us. All because of unity. In reference to sisterhood it's the same way. When we unify as sisters in Christ together, we not only have a louder voice, but our voices hold more power. A voice that doesn't just encourage community, but empowers a community.
When I was in high school I declared myself a guy’s girl. Do you feel like eye roll coming through the computer screen? Maybe some of you can relate with that. I had a few good girlfriends in high school but also really kept my guard up when it came to making friends. In fact one of my closest friends today, I wasn't really a fan of hers. She was a beautiful, well known athlete, that did well in school and everybody seem to like and praise her. She had a lot going for her and it was obvious.
Due to my own insecurities, I judged her and pushed away any type of connection or friendship that I would've had with her. Jealousy stirred up all kinds of negative things in my heart about her. Things that weren't even true. So I avoided her. And as a defense mechanism I began to think of any reason in the world of why I was better than her.
Meanwhile we both go to college, graduate, get married. After I got married was around the time that I started Hazel Berry. I was also rediscovering my faith in God around this time, And I realized that all of the people that I had surrounded myself with didn't fit into this new lifestyle that I was trying to live. Therefore some of my friendships we're not as strong anymore, and for some reason I had a really hard time finding people who valued the same faith that I valued. I prayed that God would put new friendships in my life for me to share my business with and to grow my faith with.
I longed for a sisterhood. Not just the kind of sisterhood you have with your family but the kind of sisterhood you have with another one of God's girls.
One day I was sitting at my desk and received a message through my Etsy shop from Nikki. I didn't want to open the message at first. As perfect as I thought she was in high school- I'm sure she was even more perfect now! I was convinced of it. And I knew my life wouldn't measure up. Here I was sitting at my computer questioning my decision to even start this business! I didn't open the message for a couple of days out of fear. Fear that I would be face to face with rejection, and that I wouldn't measure up some how some way. That fear immediately made me isolate myself when God was trying to tap on my shoulder and say, "Excuse me but I've got your answered prayer right here. "
Whenever I got the courage to open the message, Nikki said some very sweet things in it and asked me to do a custom notepad for her. In those moments I saw Jesus in her because She wasn't just a person that I knew through high school, she was a kind voice of reassurance that I was on the right path in my life. That God wasn't leading me astray. In her message I'll never forget she said, "It's so good to see you doing so well in your talents God has given you! God is good!"
In that moment My heart changed. I felt like she knew me and she got me. She totally understood where my heart was in reassured me that even though following your dreams is hard, it's worth it. And little did I know that later on I would be able to reciprocate that encouragement to her as she was starting her business.
I was very humbled by her and her kind words. So much so that I felt so guilty for even thinking bad about her. She was clearly this really kind person who respected what I was doing, and who deserved that same kindness and respect from me.
Romans 12:3–21 says this..
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Nikki and I have talked about this before but all the little instances where we had interactions leading up until several of months ago, we feel like God was looking down and smiling at us maybe even giggling out of pure joy that something wonderful was unfolding. We began talking more regularly and the more we did the more we began to realize that our lives are really similar, we had goals that complimented each other and God was starting to tie our hearts together in a unique way to grow his kingdom.
My friendship with Nikki has been an incredible gift. We've said before that we feel like we're soul sisters because we understand each other's hearts. And whenever one of us is having an off day the other one knows exactly what to say to pick each other back up. Only God can orchestrate that kind of friendship. Only God can put two women who have pushed away a friendship with each other for many years, and turn them into sisters.
But what if we deny what God is pulling us to... who God is pulling us to? When we refuse to see people the way that God sees them, we miss out on seeing the people intended to bless our lives. We miss the people we are intended to bless. We miss our own answered prayers.
It's time to absorb this warning....when sisters in Christ come together, Satan tries to crash the party.
Just like only God can bring two women together to grow his kingdom, satan can turn two of God’s girls into enemies. Satan plants those special words, those feelings of jealousy, anger, and insecurity, then he sprays a little bit of lighter fluid on it, lights a match, and then sits back and enjoys the show.
That does not have to be us.
Satan is the loudest when our faith is at it's highest. When he sees God’s girls come together, he suits up, does his research on you, and goes to battle to destroy your heart.
So as we go about our day today be mindful of that. Just by reading this, Satan has put a target on your back. So we have to take a note out of proverbs 4:23 and guard our hearts- guard our friendships - guard our purpose.
Satan tells us we cannot change. We don't have it in us. He tells us that we aren't worthy of love or friendship. He tells us that we're not ready to chase our dreams. He tells us that we aren't good enough for that promotion that job. He tells us that we are not Christian enough to stand up for what we believe in. And lastly- He tells us that we aren't worthy of the greatest love to ever grace this earth which is the love of God through Jesus Christ.
But the good news is that none of that is true.
Don't let Satan win by creating unnecessary tension between you and another one of God’s girls.
I just want you guys to think about something. I'm sure there are women in our lives who we have problems with. Or maybe there are women who we aren't close with because envy and insecurity gets in the way. Whoever you feel God putting on your heart right now I really want you to pray for them. And then I want you to pray for yourself that God will help open your eyes and your heart to be able to see the opportunities to connect with that person that maybe you've been blind to.
There is such a special sisterhood to be found between unlikely friends who are brought together by the common ground of the love and admiration of Jesus Christ. Don't miss out on who God is calling you to.
You have an opportunity to be a part of that story.