She moved into my apartment during the summer each of us were planning our weddings. Hers was a month after mine, and we talked of little that summer but of invitations and gowns, of wedding cakes and lace. We ate brownies and Coke for breakfast because we were recent college graduates who didn’t know any better, and because our young digestive systems could still tolerate that kind of abuse. Over the years we have traveled together through infertility and parenting, teenage angst and college applications. Together with our husbands we celebrated twenty-five years of God’s faithfulness in each of our marriages, shaking our heads in recognition of how quickly time has passed.
She is tall and brunette like me or, like I once was, and many have asked if we are sisters. Just last week, when someone saw a picture of us together and noticed the sisterly resemblance, she responded, “Wait, I thought we were?”
Because, of course, we are.
She showed up at a Bible study I was teaching and spoke up, boldly offering her opinions, instead of tentatively testing the dynamics of the group as I would have done. She told me she believed she had a fairy godmother, and I thought I was going to have to set her straight theologically. She is an artist, and I am a word-girl, and she has taught me to use my imagination and wonder and to climb down from my theological high-horse from time to time.
Our adventures and hijinks together have been well documented on this blog, and on Facebook, and they approach the stuff of legends. Laughing with her is often good medicine for my weary soul. She knows more about my weaknesses and failings than just about anyone else on this planet, and she is willing to call me on my stuff. But she loves me anyway.
She lost a sister at a young age, and I lost my dad well before I was ready, so I have adopted her parents as mine, and she is truly my sister.
She and I met when my husband bugged her about giving piano lessons to our children. When she came to my house, my daughter greeted her on tiptoes because she was more than just her music teacher. We watched our children grow up together and laughed and cried our way through first days of kindergarten and high school graduations.
She offered me the honor of walking with her through dark days of diagnosis and chemotherapy, then we danced together and raised our glasses in celebration of God’s goodness and faithfulness. She gave the gift of music to my children and she, my sister, makes my soul sing.
She and I have never met, but we help carry each other’s burdens, trials, and griefs. A mutual friend introduced us online, and we have gotten to know each other only through our words. Though separated by many miles, we are walking together down a similar road. She texts me when she needs prayer, and she encourages me when I need help being brave. She, too, is my sister and I have many others like her.
I have also a sister who is a sister in every sense. We grew up under the same roof, ate at the same dinner table, and shared a bedroom bedecked with posters of Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy. We battled the same straight, stringy hair and endured torture by the same orthodontist because of our similar overbites. We share the same history, baggage, and blessings of our upbringing, and our mother delights in the knowledge that we actually love one another.
I hold the term sister in high regard, and use it only when referring to actual family relationships. Jesus, when told by his disciples that his mother and his brothers were waiting outside to see him, asked, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”
Pointing to his followers he said, “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:48, 50 ESV
I am privileged to have many sisters who, by grace, walk with me while doing the will of our Father. Many I have met, and many I have yet to meet. Perhaps if you are reading this, you also are one of them.
And one day, we’ll all sit together around the family table.
Jen Ferguson is hosting a conversation about sisterhood at Finding Heaven. I missed this week’s link-up, but my sister will be putting out the welcome mat next week (January 21, 2013) as well.
Also joining my sister emily, and the imperfect prose community, as we consider the word ENCOURAGE.