By Nora Silva
I have always considered myself a girl’s girl. That’s because I value the women in my life and have recognized how deeply I was, and continue to be, influenced by women. I think about many of the women who have helped exemplified that influence for me over my lifetime. I first think of my mom and her sisters and even her sisters-in-law. My aunts were and still are women I look up to. Each of them contributed to unique experiences in my upbringing. What I saw amongst them was a connectedness that was based on something that I now recognize as deep trust and real love. While I may not have understood it all then, what I observed was the encouragement through the difficult times, the celebrated accomplishments, the laughter, lots of laughter, and the consistency of it all.
I am blessed to have four sisters. My three older sisters encouraged me and often set the stage for me to succeed and provide for me in ways that my parents at times, could not provide. My sister Cissy sent money, after she moved away and made sure I had new clothes for school. My sister Lettie set the great example of pursuing higher education and had me stay with her in the summers, giving me inspiration to do the same. My sister Doris, at seventeen, worked at a local fast food restaurant and used her hard earned money to enroll me in gymnastics because she knew I loved the sport and my parents would not be able to pay for it. She also made sure I was in church on Sundays with her. All of them provided opportunities and options in my life. They worked hard to extend the boundaries of my experiences so I could go beyond where they had gone. My youngest sister Anna did not have this role in my life early on. I adored her as a baby but she became a nuisance to me, the little sister I had to take with me everywhere I went. As adults though, she has become one of my best friends.
Each of my sisters had, and continues to have, a unique impact in my life. Cissy with her sweetness and patience evokes peace in me. Lettie brings out the fighter in me. Doris demonstrated obedience to God and brought out the surrender in me. My youngest sister Anna, taught me that while I looked up to some women, there were others looking up to me. These experiences contributed to who I am as a person and who I am as sister in the greater picture of life. Because of geographic distance, I don’t get to see my sisters often enough but similar to what I saw with my aunts and my mom, the trust and the love is deep, real and constant.
Fortunately for me, sisterhood does not end with my biological sisters. One of the strongest characteristics of the women I call sisters, is the willingness to stand alongside me in the fight. I have been blessed with women who after disagreeing with any one of my decisions and consequences that resulted, have said, “How can I help, you are not alone.” I have been blessed with women who after hearing my struggles say, “Head up, God’s got you”. I have been blessed with women who may not be saying anything at all but pray for me and with me. This is sisterhood. To come alongside other women and lift them up, hold them up and walk with them especially when they are struggling to keep their balance under the weight of this thing called life.
My experience with CLLI has been this type of journey. I have met some amazing women who have done just what I described. They have stood alongside me, encouraged me and prayed for me. It is in this circle that God’s calling for me began to be highlighted. I joined CLLI as a faculty member and then board member. Like many of us, I felt unqualified to be serving in this capacity, not because I didn’t have the skills to teach my subject matter, that was the easy part. Rather I felt unqualified before God. I thought somehow it was a mistake that I was part of the amazing work God was doing through CLLI. It was here though, where women who I admired and looked up to, showed me that God was calling me to something special. More importantly is through this sisterhood experience that I was reminded that on my own, I am not qualified but with God, I have all I need to step in God’s purpose for me.
Like the women who were the first to see the empty tomb, I am surrounded by women who are caring, committed, loyal, faithful, and over all go-getters. I can imagine the sadness and loss they were experiencing but working through that together to do what was needed. I am sure they encouraged each other through the waves of grief they must have felt. In their commitment, to God and each other, they got to experience the amazing truth of Jesus’ resurrection together (Luke 24:1-12; Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:11-18). How amazing when God allows us to experience sisterhood in such a way that our lives are forever changed and the stories we share will tell of God’s love through the women God sent
Nora Silva is the Executive Pastor of Mosaic Church of San Antonio and a faculty member for Christian Latina Leadership Institute. She also serves as the Chair for the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas.