My husband and our 13-year-old lab mix, were on the road last week, headed to California to visit family and friends. The drive went seamlessly, well except for the plague of grasshoppers we ran into at our favorite rest spot – we had to debug the car once we reached our destination.
We arrived at my sister’s home just in time for dinner and spent the evening catching up on life and planning the rest of our time together.
Her home is so cute, nestled under a large sycamore tree, and the recent addition of two book boxes, one for little ones and the second for adults, adds an extra touch of charm. It is such a reflection of my sister’s heart – a wonderful blend of humility and grace.
We filled the coming days with visits to local bookstores, preparing meals together, and the unending trips to her garden – planning for next season and discussing potential improvements. It was such a sweet visit.
But something was different this time.
As we shared our final hug, my husband whispered, “Go ahead let the tears go.” But this time there were no tears.
This time there was no ache in my heart.
This time there was only a sacred peace.
Her hug filled me and I left satisfied.
At breakfast yesterday, my husband shared an observation. “You do know that your office is decorated exactly like your sister’s home?” I squirmed a little in my chair, trying to deflect his statement, but settled and acknowledge that we do share similar design interests. He added, “It’s not just design interests, you share so many similarities.”
And this is where my story gets a little heady.
You have to understand my sister is 12 years older than me. She left our home when I was 5 and from that point on, I rarely saw her. Until I reached my 20s and we reconnected.
My sister and I share biology but we don’t share a common history.
So, how is it that we both love a cozy chair nestled next to a corner window, warm oatmeal with a spoonful of peanut butter, painting, gardening, or new and used bookstores? Why is it that we both grow righteously indignant when the world is unjust?
Biology gives you physical similarities, history brings similar likes and dislikes. So, how did this happen?
Just in case you were going to suggest that our similarities must have come from all the time we spent after we reunited, your premise would be wrong.
Unfortunately, even after reconnecting, we lived in different parts of the state, and at times completely different states. So, when we did see one another, it was quality time but usually short and only a few times a year.
Mind blown yet?
Science tells us that our brain chemistry affects our emotions, attitudes, and behaviors. Perhaps since my sister and I share chemistry, we share behaviors. I’m going to hold onto this assumption. Yet, I don’t think it is just shared brain chemistry that binds our connection. There is something more that allowed me to leave her this visit, whole and at peace.
Each time we see each other, regardless of the amount of time we spend together, I take a little piece of her with me. I tuck her humble gracious heart, a small part of her spirit, deep into my soul and later draw on it when I long to feel her hugs.
Perhaps the absence and distance have helped me not take our relationship for granted. I carry the memories we make together; they connect us and then show up in the sweetest ways.
Carrying those we love informs us and if we acknowledge and act on what we glean, it can shape us.
This morning, I was thinking about my relationship with God. Like my sister, I carry a small piece of his resurrected heart within me. And just like being influenced by my familial interactions, over time, I begin to reflect his image. We share biology and I know a lot about him, but I haven’t had the chance to share a physical embrace, look into his eyes, or share a conversation over a warm cup of tea. We have a physical barrier between us, time and space, yet the piece of him I carry (his Spirit) influences me, comforts me, and transforms me.
I can see my sister’s face in my mind’s eye and the image brings a smile. Nothing can change the bond we share.
I see my Father’s face through his creation, in the beauty of a baby’s smile, in the midst of the circumstances that nearly break me. Holding onto his presence brings joy. The void that time and space make doesn’t change the reality that one day we will stand face-to-face, and we will embrace. Until that time, I will hold onto the cherished image (like I hold onto the memory of my sister’s hug) and allow him to inform my steps and transform my attitude.
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
1 Corinthians 13:12 (New Living Translation)
Be blessed his BeLOVED,