To the Younger Sister
from Virtuous Daughters, June 2016~Volume 16, Number 3
The past two years for my family have stretched us to lengths I didn’t think possible. Or normal. But because of this stretching, I have seen seasons of distant relationships and thick bonding moments. All good things, as I’m always reminded in Romans 8:28, but we are still a remarkably busy family. And our individual selves are even busier.
Well, my sisters are busy; I’m just along for the ride, right? ‘Cause, as usual, I just have school.
Unlike some homeschoolers, school and I haven’t always been the best of friends, but we have been constant companions. In the car, at home, on an airplane...since entering high school, my science book has almost become another appendage for me. (I’m always prepared and waiting for that moment when reading through osmosis will finally become possible!)
Another thing that is hard for any younger sister is when one of your sisters enters into a courtship with a guy, and suddenly hard things that seemed far away, rush forward. Mix in some tough family discussions, mid-morning to midnight conversations, lessons of marriage and relationships, holidays, family gatherings, events with friends, birthdays, gardening, house/children-sitting, meal-making, and everything in between; and then top that off with a wedding to start off your school year, and a new upcoming grandbaby for next year! And that, is the story of my life.
Indeed, all these busy things put school in an exceptionally real perspective. But everyone around me (immediate family, friends, and garden) have led schedules that are busy with things I’ve felt matter more than my long schedule of school. Ever since my last sister graduated from high school, an official school schedule has almost entirely gone out the window! Being the last one to graduate is not cool for everyone else’s schedule. Being the only one doing school is far from convenient; it’s comparable to going for a bike ride without wheels. (Okay, maybe that’s a bit over-dramatic, but I need you to get the idea that it is not easy.) Needless to say, these past two years have been hard being the younger sister.
With busy family members come mentally and physically tired family members. As the months continued to roll by, it felt rather burdening to share to my family my own seemingly small trials and problems. I felt lonely, but I still decided to share less. Now this is not like me; I’m more like what you would call an outside processor. I normally love to share my thoughts and feelings with my family! So I comforted myself, saying, “I’ll tell them later, when they aren’t busy.” Or, “I’ll wait for the perfect moment to have that chat.”
But either that later didn’t come, or if it did, my “chat” didn’t seem important anymore.
My loneliness and sadness quickly sank to self-pity. Surges of bitterness and self-pity would hit me, and I did nothing to guard myself from it. But I continued disregarding such feelings as being over-emotional or flat-out silly. And what made it worse was when I finally mustered up the courage to seek help, these emotions would quickly dissipate to thin air and I would assume those feelings were over with for good.
If there is anything I’ve learned from my extensive hours of listening to Adventure in Odyssey, it’s, “Never assume.”
Especially regarding yourself. Don’t assume that you’ve got it under control, don’t assume that you’ll never do that again, don’t assume that they’ll never understand, don’t assume that you’ll have another opportunity like that. ‘Cause you probably won’t.
I wish I could say that there was one defining moment when everything came out and was fixed; all things were brought to light and cleared from the mind. Feelings and people changed forever, I never struggled with those feelings and people again, and we all are living happily ever after. The end.
“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:17-18 (emphasis added)
That does not promise us a happy ending on earth, but rather a changed heart! A heart set free from sin and a slave of righteousness. Righteousness from one perfect Man, one Lord, one Christ, is the thing that has set us free. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
And that freedom has a purpose. It is by grace that this righteousness has come, and it is by His grace that we are justified and continually sanctified, to bring glory to Him.
People can truly be lonely and sad. I do not wish to take away from that fact. But what I know is often true for me, is that sin can quickly get a foothold of our feelings and twist it into something selfishly consuming and overbearing. It can become self-pity. It drives us into ourselves and away from people. But then there’s that “Thanks be to God” part of life which means that this doesn’t have to consume us. There is something OUTSIDE of us! But for those who are in Christ, it doesn’t stop there.
“For God, Who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6
Light has shined into the heart of God’s people. And if God is love, love is not selfish, love then forsakes self-pity, and if we are God’s, then by God’s grace we can forsake self-pity too! “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
If something outside of me has come to dwell inside of me, then I am no longer just me, and thanks be to God because of that! Thanks be to God that His Spirit resides in me and I am free to know God, to worship His Son, to have His Spirit dwell within and change me, and His grace to forsake things that pull me into my selfish self. (‘Cause when I pull myself into myself, it’s usually not to be reminded of Christ’s redemption.)
Even though I could just end right here—you know what you needed to know from this article—I’ll finish my story.
I began to talk, be intentional when I wanted to talk, and be flexible if it couldn’t happen in the environment I wanted it to. Simple, yet sometimes very hard to open up the lines of communication (they can get rusty so fast). I can recall long drives home, but intentionally lowering the music to talk to Mom. And I don’t mind saying it’s nice to have you, your mom, and the stars on a long drive home. Parents really do want to know what’s on the minds and hearts of their children, even if it is hard to bear. But you can imagine what’s worse, and that’s to not know what to bear. And they won’t know what to bear if you don’t tell them. (But then again, parents kinda have this super power for just knowing things.)
So to the younger sister, I have learned that sometimes you just have to put yourself out there for someone else to dissect. And thankfully with parents and sisters, you don’t need to be afraid of that kind of vulnerability. I’m learning that this kind of relationship is similar to the one I have with my heavenly Father. And THAT is something I need to be reminded of over and over again.
As I continue down this road of sanctification, I know it won’t always be like this, but whatever it will be, I trust, it will always bring me back to the Cross.
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