I call them my “3 a.m.-ers,” those friends who’d expect an emergency call, regardless of the hour. We’ve done life together, these old and new friends, taking kiddos to the ER, bailing out flooded basements, pulling vehicles out of snowdrifts. These, my sistas, live both two minutes and thirty hours away, but they’re always there for me, loving and laughing, praying and advising, supporting and teasing through the changing life seasons.

You have them, too, right? Friends who can razz you because they knew your college boyfriends, dated hairstyles, and mortifying stories. Friends who’ve wept with you over heartbreak, but also wept from outrageous laughter.

They’re our God-given gifts, these sisters-by-choice. As Jonathan was faithful to David, they lift us up, believe in us, protect us, and encourage us unfailingly. Remember the years between David’s anointing by the prophet Samuel, as the future king of Israel, and his appointment to the throne? Jonathan remained a constant encourager to David, as the promise was years in fulfillment.

Too, the bonds of this friendship were deep and costly. Remember how incredibly sacrificial (and obedient to God’s plan) Jonathan, the unsung hero, proved himself by yielding his position to David. Jonathan freely gave his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt to David, symbolizing his yielding the future throne to God’s anointed (I Samuel 18:4).

As women of God, we value friendships, understanding the precious treasure we have:

“Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion,” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, AMP).

I can’t count the many times my friends have (kindly, respectfully) spoken truth to me as I’d believe a lie, spoken faith to me as I’d faltered, or spoken hope to me when I’d grown frustrated. They pointed me back to Scripture and reenergized my walk with Christ.

We’ve all been that encouragement to our friends, as well, giving hugs and hope when life was hard, sharing tissues and soft shoulders in painful seasons. Friends who pray for and with you are priceless and precious. I always feel an assurance that we’re doing holy, eternal service when we love our sisters back to clear-eyed courage.

So, then, let’s protect and preserve this vital unity in the Church, friends! Let’s fight for it, resisting temptation to join any division or gossip, unresolved anger or negativity. Let’s gently point one another back to the Matthew 18 step-by-step reconciliation process, then hold ourselves accountable to keep short accounts. Imagine if we all worked to make our churches so healthy, so loving, so gracious that every person who visited them would be enveloped in a sweet, mind-boggling version of women’s friendships, just as God meant them.

Consider, too, how painful life is for those who don’t have loving friends, for those who don’t have a circle of “3 a.m.-ers”, for those who are lost without Christ. Let’s invite them in, open-armed, to this foretaste of Heaven. Let’s be authentic, ditching the plastic “my-life-is-perfect” mask in exchange for “we-all-need-Jesus” honesty. Let’s be kind but truthful, offering hope (his name is Jesus!) that will change lives.

What if we women of faith led the charge, making church a safe place that other women wanted to come? What if we loved as Christ does: unconditionally, but sharing freeing truth? What if we humbled ourselves to apologize and work things out? What if we invested the time and energy to build those deep relationships?

How the world would change.

Are you in?

Are you interested in connecting with a community of women? The Sisterhood Leadership Lunch on Saturday, April 21, is an opportunity you will not want to miss! It’s a chance to eat yummy food, make connections, and hear what God has to say about women in leadership. Visit https://mnbtg.org/sisterhood/ to get your ticket!