I grew up in a family of boys--Mom and I were the sole estrogen-producers in the house. That sort of dynamic was great for developing my sense of competition, a love for sports, and a strong throwing arm (seriously, I can still throw a football better than some guys). But not having a sister became a stumbling block for my relationships with other girls. What was this sister thing all about?
During my college years, one friend in particular helped me break through that barrier. Erin had two younger sisters of her own, so she had been living in the hood--the sisterhood--all her life. And after spending three years living with her family (after college, while I was in seminary), my initiation into the sisterhood was complete. And I'm here to tell you, it's nothing like the brotherhood.
Women draw strength from other women in a unique way, I think. Shared experiences, similar tastes, and common physiology all serve as bonding elements that guys, by virtue of their Y-chromosome, just aren't able to join. We love the guys, but some things they just don't understand (right??). A healthy sister relationship, whether by blood or by heart, will encourage and inspire and commiserate and support and rejoice and mourn...sisters need each other. Those of us without biological sisters must reach out to our girlfriends to find a "kindred spirit" in the tradition of Diana and Anne (of Green Gables fame).
Not every sisterhood is a safe place. Rachel and Leah allowed their difficult marriages (to the same man!) destroy their relationship. They set their children against each other, stoking jealousies and hatred that affected the history of their family for generations. Many women struggle to overcome hard feelings and competition with their sisters. They've been hurt, betrayed, abandoned...trusting is hard to do. If you have been or are in that situation, know that there is hope. Jesus makes all things new.
On the plus side, consider Mary and Martha. They had different personalities that caused the occasional conflict--and who doesn't?--but they were united in their devotion to each other, their brother Lazarus, and their Lord Jesus. Nothing in Scripture indicates that theirs was anything but a safe relationship.
And don't forget Mary and Elizabeth, cousins of different ages--Mary was a teenager, Elizabeth was probably over 40 (considered too old to have children). God used both of them in two life-stages that their culture would have written off: Mary was too young, Elizabeth was too old. But look what God did with them! And I love how they came together in a beautiful picture of obedience to God's word and faithful care for one another.
The Sisterhood can be a beautiful place. What are you doing to make yours inviting, safe, and honoring to God?