I am so grateful that God arrested me this past week and had me change the trajectory of my story on joy. I have been thinking about the types of joy that can be found within a sisterhood. I begin to reflect on the joy in sisterhood that I found when I was in the world and the joy I find in sisterhood now that I am in Christ. The two are so different! So I tell you, if your circle is with women who don’t walk with Christ or you yourself are not walking with Christ, I ask you to really search yourself and figure out what you have to lose after reading this piece.
A couple of nights ago my cousin Katrina reached out to me via Facetime to share some pictures she found on her old laptop. I mean pictures from ten to twelve years ago.
Wow! Our sisterhood back then was completely out of control! Don’t get me wrong. All of those women are phenomenal and, much like me, have since blossomed into the women they were destined to be.
Back then, we were a bunch of women seeking to be satisfied by something so far from the only source that can fill those types of voids –God. Our joy then, some would say, was only temporary. We had so missed the mark of obtaining true joy collectively and individually. In the pictures Katrina shared, we were living what we then thought was our best life at the clubs, out at bars, and hosting bachelorette parties with strippers. You name it, we did it!!! We were all the way gone!
What blew my mind was remembering how we were out there in a way I would never go back to, but thinking we were all having so much worldly fun. I know most people don’t want to admit it, but sin can be lots of fun. That’s why we do it. But the residue of sin is far from fun. When looking at these pictures of not only me, but some of the women I cared deeply and dearly about, I realized I exposed us all to sin that we weren’t even coherent to. In some of the pictures, we were so inebriated that in our eyes we were literally lifeless.
Looking at these pictures started to penetrate my heart to the point that I laid in my bed after disconnecting with Katrina in disgust. Disgusted at myself for being the ringleader that introduced this circle of ladies to most of the chaotic mess we participated in. As I pondered all these old memories as I remembered them and pairing the proof of what the exposure showed, I was in a state of thanksgiving that I am no longer lost, that I am found, and I am saved. Far from perfect but progressing through this walk with Christ over the last seven years.
I then thought of how drastically different my circle of sisters is now verses back then. I also thought about how far God has brought me from the ringleader I used to be to the ringleader I am today within my current sisterhood circle. I am fortunate now to lead and be around so many women who are walking in true joy unveiled to us by the King. Women who have not only gone through incredible trials and difficulties, but who are teaching me the beauty of resilience and the strength of authentic sisterhood in Christ.
We now understand true joy is holding onto God’s promise that all we have walked through will be used for His good and His glory. We find authentic joy in doing things that draw us closer to Him without masking the pain or attempting to find the temporary joy that the world offers. I have learned in my thirties how to lean on other women when I need to be in a healthy space and to be a healthy shoulder to lean on. Through the joy of Christ-like sisterhood, I am learning to be confident in my strengths and my spunk in raw form as His glory carrier.
It is truly a blessing to have a tribe of women around me who are curators of the sisterhood done His way verses the world’s way. These women rally together and look for ways to support the efforts of each other and of all women. Some of these women do not know each other, yet they are sisters. I have found great joy in weaving a rich tapestry of women colleagues, friends, mentors, and heroes into my life. These women inspire me each day to be better, to do better, and to lead better.
I have learned something from every single woman I have ever met despite the hardships of this world. Admittedly, sometimes I learn a hard or unpleasant lesson. But, even at those times, I am grateful for the experience. I truly believe everyone has a story, one that is important and needs to be heard. I work hard to find common ground with all women because it’s there. Sometimes it takes a lot of digging to find it, but it’s always there. We have some of the same struggles, same hopes, same fears. Nothing can connect you to another woman more than seeking those things that allow you to say, “I’ve been there”.
My advice to women seeking joy is to first seek the only true source of joy –our Creator. Then find your God-appointed tribe and love them hard. There is a special kind of joy that only comes from the sisterhood women share. Find inspiring women and learn from them. Become active in groups, cohorts, clubs, and communities of women who share your interests and goals, but also seek out those with differing opinions and experiences and learn to find common ground. Most of all, learn to mentor others. There is great joy to be found in building up other women and cheering them on!
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. Proverbs 3:17 ESV
…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3 ESV
Written by Stacha Ashburn
Please note all scripture was taken from the ESV.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.