Location: New England, United States

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sisters and Forgiveness

Time passed as it sometimes does - quickly and quietly. My father's employer transferred him to Connecticut leaving me in Kentucky with my husband and daughter. My sister, Barbara, had married and moved to Chicago with her husband. A year later she gave birth to a little girl, Beth.

On one visit to Chicago, with encouragement from my husband, Barbara and her husband Walter decided to move to Kentucky. They asked if they could stay with us until Walter found a job and they could buy a home. We agreed.

What sounded like a good idea in Chicago, became a stressful situation in Kentucky. Walter and Barbara stayed with us for many months, far longer than we had anticipated. Four adults and two children living in our tiny house created stressful situations for us all, and I was building a growing ire against my sister.

Barbara did not work, so she stayed home with the two children. At the onset of our arrangement, I had visions of coming home from work to find the house cleaned, the laundry done and dinner cooking on the stove. My visions were seldom realized, and requests went unheeded. As the weeks dragged by, the anger hidden deep within me became heavier and heavier.

One night, unable to sleep, I quietly rose from my bed. The anger I harbored played in my mind like a drama with no resolution, and I needed an answer. I grabbed my Bible and there at my kitchen table, I began to pray. "Please God, please make my sister and her family leave my house. I can't take anymore."

At the time, I was reading the Bible from cover to cover, so I opened to my marker and continued reading. Suddenly, I heard someone coming down the hallway; it was Barbara. "I can't sleep." She said. "What are you reading?"

The peace I had obtained from my little prayer and reading washed away with resentment. I had sought some solitude as an ointment to my suffering, and even that was now stolen from me! "Do you want me to leave?", she asked while she sat down at the table.

"Help me!", I screamed inside my head terrified that if I opened my mouth a dark bile of words would pour forth.

Then, "Tell her how you have been feeling and apologize.", popped into my head amidst the turmoil.

"I can't tell her. What I am feeling is so ugly."

"I want you to tell her, calmly, and then apologize for feeling this way. This is not about you, it is about her."

I knew what God meant. Barbara knew that I had become a Christian and had been baptized, but we had never really discussed why I had done this. All she knew was that I had turned my back on my Catholic heritage. Whether she understood my transformation or felt that I had lost my mind; I had no idea. It was time to tell her.

So, I proceeded to tell her how I was feeling. I told her that when they first came to live with us, I was so excited to have family near me again, but the happiness quickly turned to anger and resentment. I resented not only that she could be a stay at home Mom, but that I was still expected to cook dinner and clean when I got home from work. I can still remember how humiliating and painful it was to express all my black feelings. Pain and anger flickered across her face like a strobe light. Then I asked her to forgive me.

This was not what she had expected. She was probably preparing herself for at least an argument, or perhaps she expected and request for her to leave. Instead I asked her for forgiveness. She started to cry.

We both cried. Then I shared with her what God had told me to do. The next couple of hours were spent talking about God, Jesus and the plan of salvation.

Barbara did not accept Jesus as her Savior that night, but years later in Tennessee, Barbara and her husband were baptized in a small country church. The seed that had been planted that night at my kitchen table - by God - germinated and took root.

"Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field;" Matthew 13:24 RSV


Blogger KayMac said...

What a beautiful story about authenticity and the power of the gospel. thank you.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Jody said...

This story gives me hope for my twin sister. We have discussed God many times, but she is unwilling at this point to fully submit to God. When I first became a christian 4 years ago I joined a church that was unhealthy and dogmatic about how it dealt with people in and out of the church. My sister somehow saw the warning sign that I was blind to and she cautioned me. 6 months ago I left that church and I have been more open with her about the pain of getting hurt by the people I trusted but also showing her that I am still devoted to God and I am not giving up on being a christian. It has opened up a chance for me to apologize for not listening to her in the beginning, but also telling her what God really desired of HIs people. Anyway. It's hard to see the fruit of our conversations and I know i am far from perfect. I just pray that God will speak to her so clearly she cannot deny Him and she will be born again.

11:56 AM  
Blogger sophia said...

God is so good! I'm so glad you listened to what He told you. Pride would have kept you from expressing your frustration. Anger and hate would have caused you to accuse her and be ugly. Love caused you to be humbly honest and reach out even in your frustration. I pray that I will learn to listen to God better in the midst of turmoil!

2:47 PM  

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