Our phones these days hold many clues about our lives.
But the simple group text in my messages labeled BFFs tells you nothing of the foundation of love that led to its treasured existence. There are three of us closely connected, and we couldn’t tell you how exactly it happened if you asked.
We didn’t have traveling pants or an important quest to destroy a ring that cultivated this closeness. We did risk the voyage through the hormonal halls of junior high, high school, and what waited on the other side of childhood. We learned to simply be with each other as we grew and the bonds that wove through days that would become the past, cemented our places in each other’s futures.
Together we have bled, wept, and laughed until the snorting became unbearable.
We witnessed terrible choices and wise moves. We threw down and forgave. And we turned our backs on God, then lived in hope as we set our eyes on Him and His mercy again. We belong to one another and always will; we are indelibly written into one another’s memories, affixed to the emotions of the moments that propelled those memories into existence. We didn’t know it at the time, but what we were developing was kinship.
Yes, time has progressed and life has led us to new places. We each have developed beautiful connections with other people, but each relationship shines its own kind of light. These seem to shine like an eternal flame — reliable, steadfast, constantly offering its warmth when the world feels cold.
We are keepers of one another.
These women have taught me sisterhood that extends beyond blood, and from this gift, God has taught me about love for His people. As a follower of Christ, I am called to love others as Jesus has loved me, and even more so those that are of God’s family.
However, I am aware that I fail at this daily, and I am not the only one.
In Genesis 4, we see kinship forsaken as Abel is slain by his brother. Cain always strikes me as such a brute, but I’ve used the heart of his words to excuse my own behavior towards others more often than I like to admit: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” It usually sounds different when it comes from me; more along the lines of, “Not my problem.”
No, I don’t think every difficulty of another is my responsibility, but I do believe we too often forget to love as we have been called. What would the world look like if we were willing to keep one another?
What if we decided, in a culture that prides itself on individualism, to resolutely keep kinship?
In a world that seems to be divided, as voices rise to shout, I want to be a voice that says, “Yes I am willing to be my brother’s keeper. Yes, I will care for the kin that have been placed before me.”
I will not hold to privilege that pulls rights away from another because I see the dignity in the face of a fellow human. I will refuse to cut with sharp words that would cause the blood of others to cry for justice, because I long to be more like Jesus than Cain.
I will look beyond myself, and remember that those God has made in his image desperately need to see that the love of Jesus lived out means welcoming others into his family, not making them learn the family norms before they can walk in the doors.
It is vital to the health of the church that we do not get so tied up in expectations and our own comfort that we forget we came to the Father as prodigals. Jesus does not call us to save the world; He has already made the way for that, but He does call us to the ministry of reconciliation. He wants us to draw others into His family because His abundant love doesn’t diminish when shared — it grows exponentially. 2 Corinthians 5:20 reminds us,
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
So how do I bring Jesus’ presence with me? How can I share his love that justifies, cleanses, and adopts sinners made righteous into the family of God?
It can be as simple as making right choices that help renew my mind from dwelling on being comfortable in complacency. It’s embracing vulnerability by sharing my wounds and internal wars instead of protecting my mess. It’s taking seriously Jesus’ call to self-sacrifice so that lonely hearts would be given new life.
In the words of W.H. Auden, “We must love one another or die.”
When we kill instead of keep kinship we destroy some of the beauty for which we were created and share darkness instead of light.
Would you courageously join me in the tender care for souls?
It will be worth it.
Chara Donahue loves to talk to women about Jesus, motherhood, and discovering the abundant life. She has four kids, a brawny husband, and is a writer/speaker/biblical counselor when life allows. She has written for Christianity Today’s Women Leaders, The Huffington Post, iBelieve, and is working on her first book. She has an MSEd from Corban University and is the founder of Anchored Voices.