I recently had the absolute honor of speaking to the girls rushing at the University of Alabama. I considered it a great joy to be asked to do that. If you don’t know what rushing is, it is a series of social events to connect sorority groups with the freshman girls on campus who want to pledge their group. It was a little crazy to be in a room full of excited, beautiful girls whose nerves you could feel, the day before they would find out if they made it in a sorority or not.
Due to respecting the rules of recruitment, I was not allowed to speak on or mention my faith. You may be thinking… how are you going to speak to college sorority girls when you don’t even go to college and have never been in a sorority and how would you give a message where faith is not mentioned?!?! Valid. If you weren’t thinking that, trust me, it IS what I was thinking! I thought and I thought and I thought about what I could say and then, it hit me – the thing I literally talk about most and can totally relate to is…sisterhood. Isn’t that what a sorority is? Well, it turns out, not always. BUT that is what it can be at its best. Let me explain…
I decided that, since I cannot use my bible and I do not know all the right terms, I would get my definitions and lingo from none other than our, us millennials, very own, Urban Dictionary. So, I looked up the “Urban Dictionary” definition of sisterhood and there were three very nice definitions. This is what the top definition with 197 likes says–
Sisterhood: A bond between two or more girls, not always related by blood. They always tell the truth, honor each other, and love each other like sisters.
Okay, now let’s look up the definition of sorority…
Let me start by saying I took one for the team and highly suggest no one look this word up. Let’s just say it was not friendly. Out of the seven explicit definitions listed with thousands of likes, this was the top one –
Sorority: A group of girls who have come together because they look similar, and are now kind of friends.
BUT WAIT! I thought sorority was sisterhood and these could not be more different… Who’s confused? 🙋♀️
The draw for people to join a sorority is a desire for sisterhood, yet these definitions are so opposite. I looked at both definitions, studied them, and thought to myself, “There are some core differences here.”
Here is what you need to know… sisters and sisterhood have different definitions as well. You can have a room full of sisters and see no sisterhood – that goes for sorority girls, friends who call themselves sisters, and even real family sisters. There is one stand-out difference that I see in the definitions and that is what I want to focus on. It is this: the foundation of one is built on identity and the foundation of the other is built on image. What we all have to understand is it is our identity that makes us qualify for sisterhood, not our image. And that goes for your own physical sisters too.
One time when I was in about fifth grade, my best friend and I were playing a game that basically went something like this, we owned the castle and Bella was our servant. (I know I know… not the best big sister move.) After one of the many requests we had made of Bella, our servant, she came storming into my grandma’s bathroom (the home of our castle) with the cutest, yet sassy as can be (with kindergarten girl voice whose r’s sounded like w’s) and said, “I’m not your sewrvant.” As she stared me down, you could almost hear the old western music in the background as we both thought of what was going to be our next move. Bella famously won the battle with these words, “I AM A GIWRL AND I AM OUT OF THIS WOWRLD.” She closed the scene with a power walk.
The thing is sisters do not like to be and should not be treated by sisters for anything less than a sister. True sisterhood is not a system to tell you what you have to do – it’s a source to remind you of who you are.
Here is a pic of me and my little sister, Bella. Much like a group of sorority girls, we live in the same house. We also share the same last name. We even we look alike. We are Robertsons, born from the same parents. She is my sister. While that is what make us sisters, it is not what makes up our sisterhood. Our sisterhood comes from our genuine friendship. It comes from her love, honesty, and loyalty to me and mine to her.
This is my other sister, Rebecca. Our background is very different. It’s not the same as the one I share with Bella. We do not look alike. While some of it was, not all of our childhood was spent in the same house. We don’t live in the same house now. We don’t have the same last name. We didn’t grow up with the same set of rules. Our parents decided that Rebecca would be a part of our family. She is my sister. But, just because she is identified as my sister by my family and others, our sisterhood is made of the friendship we have built. Rebecca, Bella, and I have an amazing sisterhood that is not built on an image. It is built on the individual identity of who we all are and the friendship we have all built.
I want us to look at the differences between the words identity and image.
By definition – Identity: the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.
By definition – Image: the general impression that a person, organization, or product presents to the public.
Identity is how you were created. Image is what you have created.
Identity is who you were, are, and always will be. Image is what you want people to see.
Identity allows you to rest. Image causes you to strive.
Identity is unique to an individual. Image can be shared.
Identity is forever. Image is temporary.
There is a clear winnerin the wrestle of identity and image.
I know you hear all the time that your image will fade and maybe some of you are thinking, “Yes, in about 30 years or so,” but I am not referring to years down the road. I am thinking about tonight… when the makeup come off, there is no filter, you log off the app, and you can’t create your real life caption.
Here’s the problem. Many people try to base their confidence, their friendship and sisterhood, in something that is always changing. Do you know that the definition of confidence is the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something, a firm trust? So why do we try to lay down a foundation of sisterhood on something that we cannot keep up with, something we can’t rely on?
Building a foundation of sisterhood on an image is about as long-lasting and effective as the foundation in your make-up drawer. You use it and you do look great for a while. It even covers your flaws and you seem to shine with it on. But, soon it starts to break down, wear off, and ultimately it comes off completely. This type of foundation covers things, but it does not change things. It is only capable of changing the APPEARANCE of your skin; it does not change the actual color or clarity of your skin. When you take your makeup off at night, the only thing that should change is the color and clarity of your skins; it should not affect the true colors of who you are. If you only work at letting your image change your identity, ultimately your true colors will soon shine through. The image you project to others should only serve to enhance who you really are, not change it.
When I was sharing with the girls in Alabama, I took off my makeup as I was speaking. I asked them, “Does seeing me with no make-up change the way that you see me?” They all said no. Even though removing my make-up changed WHAT the girls saw, it did not change WHO they saw. I went on to tell the girls that the good news is I didn’t come for them to only see a part of me; I wanted them to really see me.
You see, if I went to speak that night with a face full of a makeup and cute clothes and I just stared at these girls without saying a word for 45 minutes they would of left thinking it was the weirdest 45 minutes. It would have been wasted time just looking at each other with no lasting impact. I did not come to give them my image. By just giving them my image I was giving them no relationship, but when I shared with them my identity, my heart, my words, that is what created a bond. Our image is not only temporary for us to see but is temporary for those who see, but a word to the heart can last forever. You want to create impact, friendship, sisterhood? Give them world more than your image.
When I give the analogy of the foundation it seems cute and relatable because us girls relate to the feeling of our foundation cracking, wearing, smudging, and coming off. The reality of life though is that those cracks, wears and smudges are not so funny; when we try to make our image our identity and we feel it start to fade, that is when the anxiety rises, the eating disorders start, the perfectionism is unattainable, the comparison is out the roof, and mental illness begins to become a phrase we are all too used to hearing because we can not sustain what we have created. The truth is I have talked to many girls, friends, sisters, and sorority girls who relate to these words and this pain and it breaks my heart.
So how do we redeem sisterhood? Not just in sororities, but all over – in friendships, schools, churches, work and families?
I was watching sisterhood of the traveling pants the other night, and leave it to that movie to bring a little hope. It is a popular movie so you might have seen it. I will share with you the opening part that jumped out at me. These four girls are all best friends, practically sisters who have formed a sisterhood. They are about to split ways after school, so during their last days together they go thrift-store shopping. One of them tries on a pair of jeans and all of the girls freak out at how awesome she looks in them and how perfectly they fit. Another one of the friends decides to try them on too, and once again, they all freak out because they look great on her too. How weird it is that both girls fit perfectly in the same pair of jeans? All four of the girls end up trying on the same pair of jeans and GUESS WHAT ??? THEY LOOK AMAZING AND FIT EACH ONE PERFECTLY?!?! MAGIC!
Ultimately, they get the jeans and decide to share them and build a sisterhood around the magic of the jeans. “Since every sisterhood has rules,” they state, they all sat in a circle and made rules. Here are some of the rules:
- You must never use the word fat while wearing the pants.
- You must never let a boy take off the pants.
- You must not pick your nose while wearing the pants. You may, however, scratch casually at your nostril.
- You must document the best things that happened while wearing these pants. On the left leg write the most exciting places you have been while wearing the pants. On the right leg, write the most important thing that happened to you while wearing the pants.
- You must write your sisters no matter how much fun you’re having without them.
- Love your sisters. Love yourself.
*if you do not follow these rules then they lose their magic*
I want you to see that sisterhood is meant to be like those jeans. It is not something people have to strive for or work to fit into; it is something that fits perfectly because of who they are. These girls were not in competition with each other over these jeans. They celebrated each other over the jeans because they fit everyone perfectly. We all fit sisterhood.Look back at the original definition I shared with you about sisterhood: A bond between two or more girls, not always related by blood that tell the truth, honor each other, and love each other like sisters. Individual girls choosing TRUTH – HONOR – LOVE. If you take any of this away, the power of sisterhood loses its magic.
All of us sisters who crave sisterhood and look for it in all of these places are just girls who want to be accepted, included, celebrated, loved, and just need a friend we can count on. And, we cannot forget, although we all look for this and desire this, we actually can create this! Notice the rules they made were FOR ONE ANOTHER. They were things to form bonds, build each other up, and deepen relationship. We create the sisterhood around us and bring the magic by the rules we create and follow. Let’s bring the magic of sisterhood back. We all want it – let’s create it.
Check out this full video on youtube!