“Crown or no crown, you’re still a queen to me.” I read these bold, black words in a small card with a picture of a silver glitter crown on the cover.
My friend, Desire—my coworker and fellow sorority sister—left this card for me at our work. It was a sweet gift: we had just learned that I didn’t make it onto the homecoming court. She knew I had held desire for this honor, and she moved toward me in my loss.
A lot of women apply for homecoming queen, but only three make it on the court. After the court is announced, a campus-wide voting takes place, and the king and queen are announced during Homecoming week. There’s a lot of hype around it as it holds much tradition. The king and queen get crowned, ride in a really fancy car at the homecoming parade, receive a scholarship, and get to help lead and serve at the weekend homecoming festivities. In the eyes of the Greek community, getting to be on the court and represent your chapter holds high honor and brings bragging rights, which is why this opportunity can become a place where fierce (non-cordial) competition rises up.
In light of this memory, there are a couple pieces that continue to hold wonder for me: Why does an “I’m-sorry-you-didn’t-get-the-crown” card even exist? I’m so puzzled by who at Hallmark felt the desire to create a card like this, and the story behind the creator. Did she once have her hopes dashed and then found consolation in creating a card to help console others? How many of these cards actually get purchased and gifted?
Second, this memory holds for me the beauty and wonder of seeing a sister from a different chapter, Alpha Xi Delta, show up with care, honor, and blessing for me, a Phi Mu sister. This was not something I had been very familiar with; I didn’t see this type of care across chapter lines. Though there was fierce competition among women and chapters, Desire demolished the unnamed but felt tension through her love.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about relationships among women and what true sisterhood is.
As I’ve tended to my story and walked the landscape of my relationships with women, I’ve seen common threads of pain and cursing, comparison and envy.
Over and over, I have heard phrases like, “I’m so jealous that you get to _____” or “How did you get asked to do that?” and “Why are you hanging out with _____? She is my friend.” Cursing and wounding my soul, these words have invited me at times to make myself small so as to not be a target.
As I sit with my counselor and continue to work on my life’s stories, I am learning that I was created and made to be a woman of power, light, beauty, fierceness, and LIFE. Choosing to play small isn’t going to serve those who have contempt for my glory, nor will it serve the Kingdom. In fact, choosing to play small and not live into who I was created to be brings dishonor to my Creator and the image I reflect as His child.
I have had to contend and wrestle with thick tensions in my female relationships, particularly from those who see my glory as a threat. This wrestling comes with exhaustion, weariness, and hypervigilance as a result of so much betrayal and wounding. Through the struggle, though I haven’t given up; as a result, I have seen tenderness and resilience forged into my bones, and I continue to walk toward female friendships.
Desire’s act of kindness in response to my moment of loss is beautiful and generous. It reminds me that there are women who are near me, women who want to build up and bless rather than curse my desires and hopes.
A year later, I ran again and had the honor to be one of the three women who made it onto the homecoming court. I felt gratitude for this opportunity and to my surprise…I went on to be named and crowned homecoming queen!
Sandhya Oaks is a ministry leader, speaker, writer, and advocate. Born in India and adopted as a Transracial Adoptee in the Midwest, she has been serving with Cru Campus Ministry for more than 13 years and loves developing students and staff. She is the co-founder of The Adoption Triad, a social media group that provides community and resources to those connected to adoption and foster care. Her passion to walk with adoptive families is being lived out through leading virtual Transracial Adoption Parent Groups with Restoration Counseling. Sandhya recently moved to Colorado and spends her free time camping, sipping coffee with friends, and creating tasty charcuterie boards.