Today’s post is from Janelle, our fifth, who is married to Eric and is an orthopedic nurse.
So far, you have heard from my younger brother, Jake, on the importance of forgiveness and repentance in sibling relationships. Even though he dissed me and said my laugh is loud and annoying (ok… maybe it is) I wholeheartedly agree with him. You also heard from my older sister, Jaime. I felt good when I read her post because I don’t ever remember us biting or pulling each other’s hair like her girls do – so there is definitely hope for Annie and Danae.
This post has less about what you can do to foster close sibling relationships in your own kids and more about how God uses bad circumstances to do good things between siblings. The pictures on this page are a testimony to God’s faithfulness…more on that later.
Let’s face it, when we are going through a great season where everything is going our way, everyone is being nice to us, the Lord is blessing, and our kids are being kind to each other (or in my case, my husband is being kind to me) it’s easy to cruise along and be happy.
But when I think back to the seasons of my life I felt closest to my siblings I remember the aftermath of difficulties and trials. As a kid I was less aware of this than I am now. However, after reaching adulthood, some of my sweetest memories with my siblings were during times of intense heartache. Two of these memories stand out more than any others.
I was eleven when my eighteen-year-old sister Jaime got married. I didn’t think much about it. All I knew was that PJ was nice to me and that I liked him, and that Jaime and I weren’t close because she didn’t like me. (Of course, it had nothing to do with me be an annoying little sister!) As time when on, however, I began to better understand what happened. You see, Jaime and PJ were keeping their relationship secret from our family because they knew Dad and Mom wouldn’t approve. This was the hardest thing our family had walked through. The months that followed were difficult as my parents, sister and new brother-in-law carefully walked through the repercussions of this decision. I remember Mom crying a lot and Dad being unusually quiet. I was fearful and anxious about the future. Our normally happy, loud house was sad and quiet.
Soon after the marriage Jaime wanted to take me to the mall. I was surprised since she had never done this before. We laughed and hung out. I had the time of my life with a sister I secretly adored but had never been close to. As we were walking she suddenly stopped, looked at me intently and said, “Missy, you have to promise me something.” I had no idea what to expect. “You have to promise that when you like a boy, even just a little bit, you will tell Mom and Dad and trust them.” She was so serious and passionate I had no choice but to agree.
I never forgot that promise to my sister. I can point back to that moment as the moment we became friends. In fact, she helped Mom plan my wedding and in May 2010 she was my matron of honor. Few were as supportive and happy as Jaime to see me marry the love of my life. Because she made me promise to trust my parents, Eric was the first serious relationship I had….and Mom and Dad were the first to hear that I had my eye on him.
The other memory finds me at my grandmother’s gravesite. Nanny’s funeral had been both somber and joyous as we celebrated the fact that she was now in heaven with her Savior, her husband and her son — free from the cancer that had been diagnosed only weeks before. The previous months had been draining on our whole family. Just two weeks earlier, and within days of Nanny’s diagnosis, we had moved to Orlando from the only home we had known; a home we shared with Nanny. Now one of my favorite people in the world was suddenly gone. After watching her coffin laid to rest, I wanted to escape all of it. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I moved away from everyone and broke down crying. I had been crying all day but these were different tears; tears of despair and anger. I didn’t notice him walking up but then felt Joey’s arm go around me. He wasn’t one to show affection easily, especially to me, but he saw me crying and wanted to comfort me. He didn’t say a word.
What Joey didn’t know was that memory would stick with me through the extremely difficult time of going back to Orlando to no friends and the grief of losing Nanny. Mom and Dad were still trying to process and deal with her death, as well as the circumstances that led to our move in the first place. God used my providential loneliness to force me to the Scriptures for solace and comfort. I don’t know what would have happened if Joey hadn’t silently comforted me. Maybe I would have trusted God with my grief, but perhaps I would have turned into a bitter teenager who thought that God was cruel and unloving. What I do know, however, is that moment brought me closer to a brother who put aside his personality to comfort his little sister.
These memories are only two out of probably hundreds. Now that we’re all adults, my siblings and I continue to walk through trials and hardships. I know without a doubt that we all have each other’s backs. I know they sincerely want what is best for me. And I know that the prayers of my parents are being answered through the good times, but mostly through trials.
So please take heart. God can forge a bond between your own children. He will use your prayers that will tested and tried through the flames of hardship, loss and grief. One my wedding day I experienced the love of my siblings in a profound way. My sisters were my attendants and my brothers surprised me with a reception dance where they each cut in to dance with me one by one. I will never forget their expression of love for me that day.
In Luke 22 we find Jesus reclining at the Last Supper with his disciples. After breaking bread and drinking wine Jesus tells them one of them will betray him. What did they do? Say things like, “Oh Jesus, thank you for being willing to die for us!” or “How hard this must be for you, to suffer and die!” Yeah, no.
“A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”
It reminds me of when all of my family is together at a birthday party and Mom initiates our normal tradition of honoring me – the birthday kid. But somehow the conversations turns to my brothers arguing about whose basketball career was the most impressive. They all claim personal rights; Joey because of his last second three pointer in the playoffs; Josh because he scored 1,000 points by his junior year; Jake because he….just because he’s the best at everything; and Jesse because he dominated the paint. Okay, not a perfect analogy.
In His moment of greatest need Jesus could have said, “Guys! I am about do DIE! I am the greatest, you nimrods! How can you be thinking of yourselves at a time like this?!?” Rather, He gently reminds them that the greatest would also be the one who serves. But the most surprising thing to me that he says is right after.
“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials.”
That echoes in my heart.
Mom and Dad, you are those who have exemplified what it means to pray for your children through trials.
Josh, Jaime, Jesse, Joey, Jake, Julia…you are those who have stayed with me in my trials.
P.S. The rest of the story: Jaime and PJ will celebrate their 15th anniversary in March, and Dad and Mom love him. Well…mostly because he helped give them Kayla, Wyatt, Annie and Danae.