By Laura Adams
“Grandma, will you be my BFF?”
This was the question my 8-year-old granddaughter Rhaine asked recently. Of course, like most little girls, “best friends forever” is the deep desire of their little feminine hearts, to know and be known, and to love and be loved—forever.
At 56 years old, I have come to believe this desire only increases as we grow up into our womanhood.
Studies marvel at the remarkable realm of friendship between women . Secular data expounds on the difference between men and women in this area. A woman’s need to tend and befriend one another is deeply imbedded within her heart.
How much more as Christians should we heed our distinct feminine nature to nurture one another?
Studies show that every realm of a woman’s relational identity is affected by the strength of her friendships. If we refuse, or find it too difficult to connect and cultivate solid friendships, we suffer physically, emotionally, mentally and especially spiritually.
The longing to belong is strong.
Extravert or introvert—we are all affected by the “compare/compete” criteria that women seem particularly prone to. No wonder Facebook has had a hold on so many.
Yet, whether we use Facebook or not, I think we all desire to somehow see our reflection mirrored back to us in community.
It is as if the gem of our gender longs to be set in the circle of friends. “Relational Rings” are pretty powerful in their influence to encourage (or discourage) one another.
We see this played out from the earliest ages.
Little girls silently watching the older girls dress, talk and behave.
They drink in every detail.
No one needs to formally instruct them.
She is hardwired to watch and copy.
She stands at a distance and sways—swishing her dress, her fingers entwined in her hair to twirl it.
She is mesmerized with awe, as older girls try on makeup, giggle and flounce—she is learning…
She hopes she will be noticed, acknowledged, and accepted. She wants to be like those big girls, and be invited into their community.
This is because in a very unique and intrinsic way, God has hardwired the feminine heart to be fashioned and shaped through the reflection of other godly woman (Titus 2:3-5).
The mentor/discipleship relationships in Titus frame God’s vision for feminine community.
Not from a distance, but rather inviting one another in—weaving discipleship into our ordinary roles and daily routines. This intentionality becomes the means by which we learn to experience and express His beauty as feminine image bearers of God.
God has actually wired women to want this.
Discipleship is just a big word for teaching-training-learning-following. We are all being discipled by someone or something at all times. We are also influencing others, though we may or may not be aware of it.
The Gospel is a new lens with which to consider all our relationships.
In the Kingdom of our Father, we find ourselves deeply committed to women very different from us. We are free to resist comparison and begin to appreciate and delight in each other’s beauty. A Sacred Sisterhood…
For us as Christian women, discipleship is to be considered an invitation that intentionally invests the person and work of Jesus Christ into our all our relationships. From little girl to aging woman, this sacred sisterhood is the gift of our heavenly Father. Through us, He breathes life and freedom into every area of our womanhood. We learn to help one another flourish in all we are called to do.
We are meant to gather one another into the Gospel.
We already know that women tend to silently scrutinize or size each other up. We see the many ways we look to one another for approval. Apart from Christ, these girlfriend relationships can eventually degrade the heart and desensitize the soul. These kinds of friends can embolden us to become catty and cruel, rather than courageous and kind.
But when Christ centers the friendship through the discipline of discipleship, we are collectively trained up and empowered by His great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:1-4).
We see pardon reflected back to us when we sin.
We experience the safety of covenant commitment when we learn to resolve our conflicts rather than run from them.
Right now, our granddaughter Rhaine is being discipled. She is not even slightly aware of how her little worldview is being shaped by the girls she looks up to, or the huge influence she has over girls who look up to her—like her little sister.
I want her to experience God’s version of BFF (Biblically Faithful Friends,) and to learn to discern true friendship.
We need to understand, especially as women, that friendship is where discipleship actually happens. Like Rhaine, we are all conforming to the image of someone else and probably influencing others to do the same. For better or worse, it is through others we see ourselves more vividly, and the desire to change is provoked within us. When we choose friends who are first and foremost-friends with God, It is His nature that beckons us to grow. God will use the friendship itself to be part of the means by which He accomplishes the change
Genuine faith-friendships are protected by God’s holy and fully secured perimeter of grace—especially when we fail one another. This is not to say that we receive salvation through someone other than Jesus Himself, but rather that the loyalty of God’s gracious love is being experienced and expanded through friendships that keep Him in the middle. We don’t quit on one another, because Jesus doesn’t quit on us.
This is why growing in Christ-likeness (discipleship) happens best in the context of Faith-Friendship. And why we so often fail to grow when we depend mainly on knowledge alone, even in the context of Christian programs or weekly Bible Studies.
Only faith-filled friendship creates the relational currency to access our souls with both learning and love.
This is because Christian discipleship is not merely the process of learning how to sin less—but the provision of Christ presence and promise to never leave us or forsake us. Even in spite of our fickle hearts, and frequent failure to obey.
Yes, weaving in and out of each other’s daily lives sifts and strains us. We are bound to reveal our inner insecurities, feelings of failure. Yet, when we can do this in the safety of covenant commitment to one another, we can be exposed to both our own sin, and the salvation meeting us in the middle of it. Daily discipleship becomes a container for grace to have its way with all of us, because God never means this to be done in isolation. This is the process of our sanctification.
Weekly gatherings may have impact, but relational currency cultivates influence.
What if we looked at discipleship not as another thing we must do, but rather as a Sacred Sisterhood that God has already put in place by His adoption? Real relationship is risky business—but worth it!
Our eternal sisterhood has been purchased at great price…
Let’s start doing life together one day at a time…Learning more and more what it might mean to be BFF’s—Biblically Faithful Friends!