When someone you love makes, not just a little decision you disagree with, but something they’re going to have to live with for the rest of his/her lives, something you’re going to have to live with, too, how do you make the best of it?
The other day, in this world full of divisiveness, it scared me how quickly I turned on my sister . . . so I’m trying to find my way back.
When I stress, I swim
After our conversation, I needed to find a pool.
The local Y didn’t allow short-term memberships. But a friend told me about a community pool. If I joined their senior center, I could swim twice a month for a whole year and pay only $13!
There I sat in my bathing suit in Cumberland, Rhode Island next to Norma and Jean. As I stared longingly at the pool, the lifeguard said, “Your instructor needs to be here before you can get in the water.”
Jean told me about the Christmas party, the weekly trivia events, and the $4 pot roast they were looking forward to at lunch, but the teacher never came.
As Norma and Jean headed to the meal, I joined the Boys and Girls Club instead and got in the pool, aiming to make the best of it.
I swam. Back and forth for an hour, then two, I longed for my body to feel tired in a good way.
I didn’t know what to think.
Why was I so mad at my sister?
The day before, I’d just had my first good night’s sleep in weeks, but I hadn’t had my coffee when my sister Facetimed.
“Are you sitting down?” she bubbled, “I’m getting married!”
Of course, I wanted to be happy for her.
After her husband left seven years ago, she did an amazing job raising the girls. Last fall, the second left for college. My sister hadn’t been looking forward to an empty nest so she and I brainstormed ways to deal with that.
This man was not on the list.
I know it’s codependent but as an older sister, I’ve always felt an expectation to fix things for her. It’s like she had the freedom to fail because I stood by waiting to put everything back together.
Back in Oregon, I’ve been going to bed at 8:30
Fetal position time, grieving the changes in my Dad, the ending of a writers’ group, and my sister’s big news.
I know God doesn’t want us stuck, but I kept telling myself I couldn’t help it. I replayed conversations with friends who think differently.
Yes, there are plenty of stories in the Bible like this . . . and it’s normal in other cultures even though ours labels it negatively, uses terms like Cougars and Dirty Old Men.
And I’ve had friends who married with age differences in both directions. One says:
We joke about our 5 years. He joined the army when I was 12. That would have been jailable! Our boys call him a cradle robber, but at 56 and 61 it ain’t a thing . . . to lose family support, that has to be hard, though not uncommon due to race, religion, or prior history. From where I sit—way outside the box—I just see heartbreak for her sooner than most.
Then I wrestled with my strongest opponent, my own pride, as I crawled out of bed in my leopardskin PJs. My favorite pair, but whenever anyone sees me in them, they offer to buy me another. You know the kind.
That’s when my niece texted:
“I don’t think any of our discomfort about this is from the Spirit.”
Her words got to me, maybe because of their truth.
But this guy was in his 20’s when my sister was born . . .
I whine to God, even though I know they’re consenting adults.
And I struggle knowing these words on this page will offend someone. That’s not my intention either.
Lord, how do I make the best of all of this? When I share my writing, I often feel vulnerable, exposed. So, what is the takeaway from all of this throw-up on the page?
It’s another reminder of how imperfect I am and how much I need God to walk me through, well, everything, carry me sometimes. He knows I love my sister and only want the best even when I disagree with her.
All of a sudden, I felt like I’m the one who’s wrong.
The Bible says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1, NIV).
Sometimes that doesn’t seem fair.
Growing up, I dealt with sex abuse. When I got help, I found out that if I wouldn’t forgive, I’d continue to suffer.
We never truly gain freedom without forgiveness.
I didn’t do anything wrong. I was the victim. And yet, if I didn’t forgive, again the pain would fall on me.
Yup, over the years, I’ve had lots of forgiveness lessons. We’ll come back to them because they are a huge key to the freedom we want.
So how do we make the best of it when we disagree?
“Pray to me,” God says, “and I will answer you. I will tell you important secrets. You have never heard these things before” (Jeremiah 33:3, ERV).
His words felt like the balm I needed.
What I can’t do, Lord, You can.
Change my heart.
I give You all the dissension in my family
and ask, will You make the best of it?
So, for now . . .
- I’m showing up in my prayer chair.
- Bullet-pointing my angst.
- Asking Jesus to intercede for me, rework it into prayer.
- Then the Holy Spirit, the One who knows the way back to my sister, whispers inside and nudges me in the right direction.
As thoughts dog me, I stand on the promise God gives:
“We know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love Him”
(Romans 8:28, NIV).
I speak it out loud because there’s power in our words.
When I say them as if I mean them, they kick butt on the straggly bits I’m holding onto, the things keeping me from loving the way I’m trying to.
And sometimes love surprises me.
In books on writing, they tell you to wait at least five years before sharing your past.
Why? I guess it’s because by then you should have perspective and be able to tell your story without bashing anyone.
When I first started writing, I thought I’d tell all my cool God stories, put them in a book, but memoir isn’t like that. You need structure.
You don’t jump on a rabbit trail like I used to do because I liked the story. Some are confidential and you can’t tell them. Others would be disrespectful to share.
In my process, I need to get it all out and narrow it down.
Sometimes, I wrestle with God because I feel like He’s asking me to kill my darlings. That’s what the writing books call the stories authors like to tell.
But God’s right, I want to help others without writing at someone’s expense. So, I got my sister’s permission to publish this.
If I wasn’t writing to you about this . . .
I’d still be wallowing. But since I wanted to give you a good report, I’m lighting a fire under my own butt.
And to my sister . . .
You know what?
Whatever you’re struggling with today, God can help. Let Him whisper sweet somethings into your ear.
- Through a Bible
- A devotional
- Or a seemingly random one-liner that pegs it for you
. . . like what happened to me with my niece.
And don’t forget, God will help us make the best of it, every single bit of it
Because that’s just how He is, He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28.)
Today, I bless you with peace.
No matter what you’re going through, you can give it to God. He’ll take it and help you make the best of it, every single tiny bit. Give Him your anxiety, exchange it for a peace that doesn’t even make sense.
Lord, thank You for showering my friends with your kind of peace so much so that everyone around them says, “I want what they’re having!”
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Related Post: And What Does Grief with God Look Like?