I have been blessed with three sisters. My mom used to call us built-in-friends. She always told us to be nice to each other, because we were who God picked as lifelong relationships for one another. Sometimes it was difficult to follow that advice. Often, it was downright impossible.
I’ve gone thru ups and downs with all of my sisters. Sometimes we are at similar places in life, have lots to talk about and share with each other. Other periods of life are harder on the relationship. When one, or several of us are having a rough time in our own lives, getting together is usually equally rocky. Even if our difficulties have nothing to do with each other, somehow it’s easy to dump on somebody you know has to love you anyway. It’s not right to do that, but that’s kind of how it works out.
From an outside perspective I think it occasionally looks like my sisters and I have a totally Utopian relationship. We are very tight. We laugh a lot. Sometimes we laugh so hard we cry – and at things that nobody else would even find funny. We’re fiercely protective of each other, but at the same time we’re each other’s worst critics. We nit-pick. We tease. The hardest lessons I’ve had to learn are frequently delivered to me by one of my sisters. I think God put them in my life to be teachers, friends, confidants and the voice of reason. Let me tell you though, it’s hard to hear those “tough but true” words from the girl who used to beg just to have an opportunity to play dolls with you.
I know not everyone has a sister, let alone three. And I think there’s the risk of romantacising anything you don’t have in your own life. I frequently thought about how great it would be to have an older brother (the one type of sibling I do not possess). I pictured football lessons in the front yard, set-ups with hot older guys, car rides to the mall and general coolness from a big brother. But as an adult I now realize that an older brother would have probably picked on me mercilessly, terrorized me at night, laughed at my male crushes, embarrassed me in front of my friends and generally been a total pain. I think it is easy to have unrealistic expectations of relationships you’ve never experienced.
I was reminded of this today as I was reflecting on my sister’s wedding last weekend. Coming into marriage, often people’s expectations are sky-high of their new spouse. Especially in situations (like my sister’s…and mine when I got married) where you haven’t ever lived together. You don’t know what to expect. You have on those awesome rose-colored glasses and anticipate folding laundry together sharing your deepest feelings. You’ll spend evenings cooking meals as a team, blissfully sharing responsibilities, so in love that you bend over backwards just to make him/her feel your total devotion and adoration. Anyway, the new spouse thoughts got me thinking of sister relationships and how easy it probably is to wish for a sister – and in those wishes, picture a totally perfect version.
So, I guess this whole post is just to say. I love my sisters. They are my best friends in the world. But, they drive me nuts sometimes. I’m mean to them more often than I’d like. Sometimes it’s not on purpose, but other times, it kind of is. We always talk things thru, apologize and laugh or cry together, but frequently it’s not pretty. We see the worst and the best of each other. We are privy to the pitfalls of each other’s lives, often pulling each other out of those pits and being the first ones to deal with the damage that’s been done down there. I’m thankful for the open honest relationships I have with my sisters. Even when they are hard on me. Regardless of the times I want to smother them with a pillow to make them be quiet. I appreciate just knowing that what we have is real. I love that I’m not judged for the mistakes I’ve made, rather that I’m accepted as is, but encouraged to become more like Christ.
As families blend, you get new siblings. My sister just inherited three brothers. Her husband just got three sisters and a brother out of the deal. Actually, at the gift opening last night, my new brother-in-law’s dad (my dad-in-law-in-law?) witnessed a kind of snarky exchange between a couple of us sisters and commented “Man, I’m glad I have boys.” Melding people into new relationships can be tricky, especially if the expectations coming in are unrealistic. For those of you without a sister of your own, a word of warning…be careful what you wish for. Sisters are a bundle of a lot more than sleep-overs, whispered secrets and manicure/pedicures. They are the relationships that will develop your character – a process that is full of discovery, disaster and discussion. I would advise setting the following expectations. Expect tears. Expect pouting. Expect to not like what you hear. Anticipate having to explain the same thing more than once, and still be misunderstood. Expect hugs that you don’t really want to participate in. In the end, expect to be blown away by all that a sister really is. Totally and completely worth it.
PS: This photo was taken by the fabulous Emily Hall. Book her if you want an amazing experience with all things photography related.