There remains within me a tenderness for those who have nourished young life. That’s not as normal as we would like to assume. I was reminded of this when recalling experiences with my siblings that have mirrored that care.
I watched one of my sisters gather into her arms one of my sick little ones. Carry him down the hallway and then promptly fall asleep with him. Her arm draped protectively about his little body. I was struck how like me my sister had extended herself. The little one was feverish, irritated, and whiny. But when his Mom arrived, walked back to our library space and saw my sister lie next to him both sleeping, her coos were almost audible. She knew her baby was loved.
In 2013 I had fallen so desperately ill that breathing was problematic. Sleep had not been forthcoming for three days. I had been praying most of the night, drifting in and out of restlessness, watching over my little people who had come for a weekend sleepover. Strength sapped but unwilling to send my babies home there was a knock on the front door. It was one of my sisters. I had not called or spoken to her recently. She said she felt an urgency to come and check on me. As she assumed my duties as chief cook, auntie, and bottle washer. I rolled to my knees, knelt at my couch and slept. I experienced my first rest in three days.
In 2010 I drove myself to Magnolia Street in Denver where my sister was staying during a visit from London. I knew I was deathly ill because I did not care that she took over the wheel and drove me to the hospital. I would remain in the hospital for seven days. And in ICU for two days during that week. She kept my Childcare Home operating during that entire week.
My youngest sister arrived unbidden at my door in 2013. Perhaps the same weekend sleepover in which one of my twin sisters was in residence. She loaded all of my little ones, added them to her gaggle; and took everyone to the Museum of Natural History.
I had been desperately praying for financial help. I had encountered a shortfall and I could see no way out. There was a knock on my door. It was one of my sisters who handed me a wad of cash. It was from my brother. That occurred more than a few times. All unasked or begged for.
While I taught learning to read in my Kindergarten class, a younger sister came and created first a Fall, then later a life-sized scale of a winter wonderland. It created a magical and enduring memory for the children and for me.
I am thrilled to have many such lavish and wonderful memories because, sometimes, siblings can be very difficult. You don’t believe it, ask mine. It seems more problematic when you are the eldest. Often there are periods of immediate and unearned disrespect. Or assumptions of familiarity that can be dismissive and painful. These relationships can be embroiled in perceived and actual resentments. It feels like a forever cycling of someone’s impressions of who you were as opposed to who you are. It is imperative that we practice personal accountability and humbleness with one another.
Children do this with their Parents. People who knew you as a child are often stuck in a similar by-gone reality. It makes me wonder, are memories the way we prefer people because it is who we believe we are rather than who we think they are? And then, of course, there is the issue of unforgiveness. That’s an issue we dress in many costumes. Paint a million shades of color. Soon we are professional victims. Victimization becomes a part of our character nobility. If only someone hadn’t done to us what they did, which in turn made us doers of the deeds we shouldn’t have done or do.
The real problem with unforgiveness is that it dooms you to a defined role forever orchestrated by your tormentor. We never find real victory or true freedom. Instead, we settle, most comfortably, into the roles carved out for us, by the grasping tentacles of unforgiveness.
Forgiveness is divine intervention. It allows GOD to bridge the gaps created by a variety of pain. Forgiveness does not pre-empt memory, but it will catalog them into useful and beneficiary experiences. If we will allow Him too, GOD will retool our anguish. Until even the memories become a platform for prayerful communication. A time of fellowship with your heart’s friend and savior.
Forgiveness is an ongoing process in a temporal world. That process does not involve forgiving again, but rather, the deliberate refusal to pick back up the burden you have left at the foot of the cross. What do you say? You pray for me and I’ll pray for you. We know that the Lord answers prayers.