I realise we are blessed living in an exceptionally technologically based moment in history. This has provided us infinite access to answers, questions, truth and facts. However it has also birthed the reality that communication is global and instant, expectations are high and demanding while friendship is becoming a virtual experience and social experiment to many. Mental health is a real issue in friendships and we need to stay vigilant to strategies and tools to come along side each other in this battlefield.
I was asked recently to address how Christian women can bridge this gap and I offer you these few thoughts to put towards your own solutions and considered contextual opinions.
The friends who God has put in my life are simply an incredible army of women: old, young, educated, not, winners, battlers, wise, learning, hand picked and a perfectly crafted collection of God’s daughter’s to me. I can honestly say I would not be all of who I am without their input, conversations, love and laughter!
According to The Black Dog Institute,1 suicide is the leading cause of death in 15-44 year olds in Australia with Mindframe2 quoting someone completing suicide in our nation every 6 hours. These are clearly complicated issues involving mental health challenges and complex co-morbidities which require professionals and multi-disciplinary health care teams to be carefully involved. Christian women still have voice as these circumstances rise around us.
Here are a few Bible verses to establish a pathway and clear direction for us to refresh our perhaps dusty perceptions; Esther 4:14 writes, “Perhaps, you were born for a time such a this.” The “Perhaps” in this verse has always tantalized me with its invitation to rise up with strength, honour and dignity.
“She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26) The fact that Wisdom is only addressed in the Bible by the feminine gender rather delights me somewhat more than it should! However, can we as Christian women, care for each other better? Can we consider caring, loving and building each other up with words of encouragement, acts of kindness and choosing to nourish each other’s souls well?
YES and AMEN
I believe we were purposed to champion each other on. I believe we are better with words of encouragement, nurture, truth and love spoken over us, going before us and underpinning us. I believe God is championing relationship. We were created out of it, born into it, flourish within its existence and die in its final celebration.
Research has shown that when we are kind to others, dopamine is released. This neuro-transmitter causes our brains to feel rewarded and content in ourselves. Oxytocin is also released which dilates our blood vessels leading to better blood flow and possibly drops our blood pressure readings. It is quite magnificent how God has created the human body to better regulate itself in the environment of kindness and compassion. Bring on the bio chemical reactions, girls. We need to look after each other!
As you look into your week ahead, knowing that God has put in place good works for you to do, can you consider adjusting your conversations to help flourish your friend, boss, house mate or sister?
Our deep love for each other is a beautiful reflection of Christ’s love in us. Would you dare to ask your friend, “What is your big dream? How can I actively do something toward that because it matters to me!”
I would love to celebrate your epic failures as well as epic success stories – even if it just a text, coffee or the full blown 1800 calorie mud cake slice to share while in jammies watching some old chick flick on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I call it ministry!
When did you last check in on your girlfriend’s faith journey? Celebrate it, challenge it! Are you available to be called on by someone you trust? Should you perhaps dare to address that forgiveness issue that has held you back? Could we push to a timely act of care that is unexpected to the very least of His people? Tomorrow. Tuesday? Wednesday? :)
Girlfriends in God’s kingdom are an absolute gift. We come in all shapes and sizes and together we can do so much for His Kingdom. Perhaps you were born for a time such as this. This day. This week. This month. These sisters. Breathe the extraordinary back in to them.
Let our tongues be governed by His abundant love and change up our conversations – lets get going on this Dopamine rise together!!
1. Black Dog Institute: https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au2. Mindframe: http://www.mindframe-media.info/3.The NIV Bible. Zondervan Publishing Company. Harper Collins Christian publishing Nashville (2008)4. ibid5. Keltner, Dacher.“Born to Be Good,” (W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2009).
I am a wife and mum to 2 adult children, Matt and Sally and a rather big black rambuncious dog, Charlie! I am a Clinical Nursing Facilitator (part time) and love teaching my students holistic care by the bedside. I am also the President of Nurses Christian Fellowship of Australia and this opportunity has lead me to teach Spiritual Care in the Critical Care Context to nursing and medical students in Fiji, Taiwan, Copenhagen and throughout Australia. I feel very privileged to have these opportunities and God given experiences. I also serve on a medical ship from time to time giving emergency, routine and maternal care to our incredible neighbours in Papua New Guinea.