The dedicated church organizer made two requests that seemed reasonable enough:
1. Write a 2-sentence explanation of what this “Bible Journaling” group does weekly at the coffee shop. Describe how it differs from a “normal” Life Journaling Group.
2. Create a name that is descriptive and unique.
All this was for publication in a brochure describing Small Groups at church – to help others decide if they would like to join us.
I paired it down as best I could. The first sentence described our week of seeking God for truth that transforms. We do our reading and journaling at home where we aren’t limited by a particular passage or the allotted 40 minutes. We have time to ponder truths and then bring one entry to the group that is appropriate, deep, life-changing. The second sentence told the amazing hour of trust and vulnerability that meets us in this circle of “grace-filled sisters.”
The organizer responded with thanks, and then said she changed the last part to read: “grace-filled women" instead of "sisters” saying “I know we are sisters, but I try to think through how it reads to those newer and younger Christians as well.”
Her words stung a bit. Really what is a WORD? Women vs. Sisters. Why should I cause a fuss over a few letters? I didn’t, and I won’t. But I did dialogue with God so I could understand the unsettling in my heart still lingering a day later. Why the offense, I wondered. The Lord reminded me of the words my husband had written on a drawing of me he did in our first year of marriage:
“No other understands the things we know together.”
Yes, that was it! I’d felt misunderstood. But how could she know what we experience every Tuesday morning at 6:45? With our cups of drinks, our rearrangement of tables and counting of chairs, the way we keep one eye glued to the sister sharing and the other watching for late-comers the first 15 minutes.
Because we want everybody to come. And our sisterhood feels complete as our chairs fill. We listen as each one reads. We care what the Lord spoke to her, because we have an understanding – although limited – of the journey she is taking.
We listen for the questions, the growing faith, the wounds, the struggles and the joys that entered her world over the past seven days. It matters to us. It all matters. Not because we are “women” but because we are, indeed, “sisters.”
Max Lucado reports that 148 times between Acts and Revelation, the Bible mentions sister or brother. For those who are young in the faith – what could be more beautiful, more hopeful than a promise of belonging?
So we will rename ourselves from “Journaling Group” to “Authentic Dialogue” – not a perfect description but one that will avoid confusion about what we do – and don’t do – at home and at The Beanery. And the move from women to sister – that part will wait. Wait until God brings a new sister for us to love, to accept, to encourage, to laugh with and cry with and hold. Soon, very soon, she will know we are not just women – we are sisters. And the surprise will bless her and keep her coming, as it does me week after week.
Because Sunday morning is important and something that will always be a part of my spiritual practices. But it is in THIS place where I’ve met for years with sisters who notice if I’m gone, know if I’m struggling, discern if I’m being honest with Jesus. They witness my highs, lows, dreams, mistakes and everything in between. This is the place I meet my sisters, the ones who are and will be there for me. It is the WITH of God I experience in the WITH of them.
We will do what Hebrews 13:1 says: “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.”
This needs no explanation. This must be experienced to be understood. I am at peace with this Sacred Secret.
TO CONSIDER: Do you have a group of sisters who know your heart – and you theirs? It’s a search worth taking.