Monday, February 1, 2016

Sister or Sergeant?

     How many of you have been blamed for "being so bossy!" We are right with you in that boat. It seems that the fingers are always pointed to the older ones in this area, but there are plenty of younger sisters who would admit that they have been the recipients of the blame as well. Of course, we know good and well that it's not our fault; we just know when and why and how and who and what everybody needs to be doing--right?? And, our calls are always made in good, sound judgment, and IF we sound upset, it is ONLY because the utmost cooperation needed to carry out the proclaimed orders has not been manifested. So, when the subjects of our domain are whining that we are sitting on the throne too much, well, what would they expect at bootcamp? After all, our duty is to whip them into shape--right??

     Woe! Hold on, now! Take a seat and sip some tea; it is time that we sisters discover the true meaning of what it is to be a--Sister. Let me invite you to remove your Sergeant hat and open your eyes to the wonderful beauty of what God designed in a sister's influence.

Sisters~struggles and sometimes tears,
Sisters and friends throughout the years.

     The term "sister" has such a charming, soothing sound. It speaks of a closeness beyond the best of acquaintances. It speaks of heart connections, and an unbreakable bond. Best Friends Forever often refer to each other as "sisters". But, what makes such a term of endearment ring the bells of alarm and cause a girl to run for the door when her own biological sister enters the room and "disturbs her peace"? Why is such a name viewed with distain when a little brother tells his buddy that he has a sister, and when he is alone at his desk, hidden from the commotion of household frenzy, draws his sister on his coloring sheet as a monster? If such a name carries such a precious sound, why has it become so distorted and, thus, despised?

     Could it be that we, as sisters, have marred the lovely word by our actions, dragging it through the mud by our example? We hold ourselves up as though we deserve a high position, and forget that trust and respect have to be earned through servant-leadership. We tend to assume that honor is a birthright, and are ignorant to the fact that respect and trust are not titles that can be automatically prescribed. It goes back to what Jesus instructed and taught His disciples in Matthew 23:10-12, "Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." 

    So, what does a true, real sister look like? Here are a few descriptions that may help paint that picture for you. They may immediately remind you of your BFF, but try to put your own sibling's name in the blanks. Put yourself as "that sister" being described, and your little brother, or younger sister, as the "you/your". These quotes are taken from the little book Sisters as Friends, Friends as Sisters by Roxie Kelley. (This would make a great gift for your friend...or sister! :)

"A sister rarely sees our imperfections, but when she does, she somehow finds them to be endearing."

"You know you have a real sister when good feelings and kindnesses tumble out of her effortlessly in your presence."

"A sister is gentle with her humor. She laughs from deep within, and not just from her mouth."

"A sister never joins your inner critic; she is your most fearless defender against that foe."

"Sisters reserve time for each other...not just leftover time, but first-rate, first-pick, first-class time...and they look forward to this time together and hold it close to their hearts."

"A sister reminds us, no matter what the problem love is always the solution."

   A beautiful poem that we feel so accurately describes the endearing place of "Sister" is found in a unique book called Moral Lessons of Yesteryear. Written by an unknown author, it is titled, "Wanted, A Girl": 

The girls that are wanted are good girls--
Girls that are mother's right hand,
That fathers and brothers can trust in,
And the little ones can understand.

Girls that are fair on the hearthstone,
And pleasant when nobody sees;
Kind and sweet to their own folk,
Ready and anxious to please.

Girls that are wanted are wise girls,
That know what to do and to say;
That drive with a smile or soft word
The wrath of the household away.

The girls that are wanted are good girls--
Good from the heart and the lips;
Pure as the lily is white and pure
From its heart to its sweet leaf-tips.

   With that inspiration, here are a few tips we have gleaned along the way, learning by trial and error, yet which have helped us uncover the secrets to being true "sisters" in our home. As hard as it is at times, we must remember...

1.) Stop Sign vs. Police Man  
We are not our siblings' parent! As much as we feel that we are the ones to make the appropriate training happen, and even though there is a place to remind, give advice, warn (which is different from threatening, but that may be discussed at a later time) or even correct under the proper authority, we as sisters must remember that the ultimate responsibility of raising our siblings is not on our shoulders. Since the vast majority of us would agree that we seem to be quite practiced at dishing out orders and "ending unreasonable behavior", it will do ourselves, as well as our families, good to realize the importance of, and heed Proverbs 26:17 ~ "He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears." Most of the time, we end up jumping into a frey only to be tackled and bitten in the end, when it may not have been our responsibility to intervene in the first place. Yes, the Bible does say, "blessed are the peacemakers", but often we do not take enough time to really consider what would bring the most peace--us "grabbing the dog" and trying to solve every problem, or allowing them to grow and learn--even through a few hard knocks. 

So, what does all this have to do with stop signs and policemen? Glad you asked! Lets say you are driving down the road. You come to a stop sign. But, instead of stopping, you just drive right on through. Well, Miss Stop-Sign knows that such is against the law, so she decides that due judgment must be administered and takes off after you. With screeching sirens and glaring lights, she tracks you down, tackles your car and shoves a ticket in your face saying, "You just ran the stop sign, which is against the law--and worse yet, you did it right in front of the policeman!!" Most likely, you would be of the mind to shout right back, "Well, Missy, you're not the policeman!" (Sound similar to that common phrase which rings so often in our ears, "You're not my boss!"??)
Okay, that is pretty far out. No stop sign would be chasing after a trespassing vehicle. But why not? Because, it is only set there as a reminder, not an enforcer. In the same way, we sisters should not completely drop the ball in helping to encourage good behavior and right conduct in the lives of our siblings, but we must remember that we are only the "stop signs" if you will; our parents are the policemen so to speak. It is our job to hold up the standards set, but not our jurisdiction to perform the so-called-for discipline. (I am sometimes reminded of the verse in Scripture--look it up, it's Romans 12:19.) 

2.) We must let them grow!
I think this would probably be the hardest of all: letting them grow into maturity. If you are the oldest, or close to the top of the line, this is one thing that you did not have to wade through as a younger sibling, but it is something you still had to achieve--growing up. Often times, the process of growing into the shoes of adulthood can appear to be rather entertaining from a younger perspective. But when you are the older one, the up and coming younger ones may come across as a little threatening to your own place of prominent position as they grow in maturity. After all, they just might pass you up! (That's scary!) It is only when we recognize that we are a team--put together by God to accomplish a task with the different gifts and abilities that God has given each one of us--that we can learn to accept and receive the growing members of our family as fellow-workers and co-laborers. 

The hard realities and faults of micro-managing:
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is allow our siblings to fail. In desperation to see them succeed, most often we end up harming them more by trying to prevent them from discovering the results of their own decisions. We can encourage, and offer advice, but we must be careful to not take it personally when it is disregarded. If we offer our opinion from personal experience, we must remember that it is not against us if they do not heed it. We must show unconditional love regardless of whether or not our siblings choose what we think they should choose. The goal is to allow them the opportunity of coming to the conclusion, themselves, of what would be the right thing to do. When we consistently pour in our endless bits and pieces of opinions, we decrease their ability to think through decisions and come to wise conclusions on their own, and, ultimately, either turn them into programmed, obedient robots, or repel them off to "cut the apron strings" and find a life. Keep in mind that, most commonly, experience is the best teacher. 

3.) Be Genuine! 
"Don't walk in front of me, I will not follow; 
Don't walk behind me, I will not lead you; 
Just walk beside me and be my friend." 

Our younger siblings look up to us with great admiration. But, oftentimes they do not know how to express their admiration except by wanting to be just like us, walking hand-in-hand with us. The greatest devastation that happens between siblings is the mis-understanding of communication, especially in love (from the older ones) and respect (from the younger ones). It took a rock-hard knock for me to learn this lesson, and perhaps I will share it in a later post. But, our siblings are not crying out for a "nice big sister", they long with all their hearts for a true, genuine friend. One who knows what they are going through, yet is there to walk with them through it. One who is always there for them, yet allows them to be there for her--even in small ways. One who loves them as a person, not just viewing them as go-to servants, or even "her ministry". One who will talk with them as a friend, and who can listen without always having to give "the answers". They want you to be their sister!

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