Wednesday, May 23, 2007
It has always amazed me how brothers and sisters from the same parents can be so different. But sometimes life sends us on different journeys. I was raised in a strong Christian, very legalistic home. There were seven of us kids - and before you ask, yes, I am the oldest! And I wear that badge proudly - it was hard work to be the oldest sister of six younger siblings. Maybe that's why I am extra proud of my brothers and sisters, and maybe that's why I have so much joy in my heart as I share this particular story today.
Our dad was the head of our home and he ruled with an iron fist. We always knew we were loved, but we also knew we had to tow the line. I don't think any of us dared to cross the line, not because we knew what would be coming if we did - I don't think we really knew what would happen and we sure weren't going to risk finding out! As the oldest, I left home first and althought I wasn't there to witness what happened, I heard a lot about it. Our dad went through a time of depression, my parents marraige, although never great, grew worse, and the family dynamics changed. The younger kids felt it the most. One of my sisters, who had always been kind of a free-spirit, became very independent. She and my youngest brother were probably the most emotionally injured in the whole situation. Anyway, she developed a propensity for choosing friends who were troubled and needy and a few of them basically messed up her life. She went to college but didn't finish. She decided she wanted to travel and went to Ireland and Paris with hardly any money. She met more strange friends and fell in love with some strange guys. She picked up some bad habits. She stayed away from the family as much as she could. She developed more unhealthy relationships. And then our dad was killed in an airplane accident. And she became very angry at God. It became harder and harder to try to have a relationship with her and although the ties were never severed, we just respected each others differences and didn't have too much connection. She lived across the country with only rare, occasional visits home. About three years ago, however, she shocked us all by moving back to our hometown. No one expected it. It seemed really strange. None of us lived there anymore. But she wanted to. She met a man, got married, and of all things became pregnant. I think that shocked us the most. She was in her later 30's and no one ever imagined she would ever want to be a mother. It ended up changing her life. She gave birth to a beautiful little boy. She fell head over heels in love with this little guy. She began reconnecting and maybe it was just because we had things in common, our relationship with her began to mend. She called me last night. She is back in church again and looking to start a MOPS group in her church, the one we grew up in. She quit smoking. She can't talk enough about her little guy. She is not angry at God anymore and she has forgiven people who have hurt her. She has reconciled our dad's death. She knows she is blessed. She has come home. She has quit running. She told me she had to go back home to heal. And for the first time in her life she is happy.
I have prayed for her for so many years and felt discouraged so many times because nothing seemed to change and sometimes even looked worse. But I can see now that she had to do it her own way - it is her journey - not mine. When you love someone it is so hard to watch them make mistakes, to let them go their own way. But the heart is a funny thing. It doesn't let go. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I really love my sister.