I Get to Be Me and You Get to Be You
Relationships are tricky.
Just when I think I have the rules of engagement figured out, I realize that they aren’t easily applied in any situation, because we are all different. It was in my formative years that I learned that relationships don’t always fall nicely into place. I have a sister that is 21 months older than me. We always loved each other, but the liking part didn’t come as easily.
My sister and I are different in more ways than we are alike.
These differences, instead of being celebrated, became a breeding ground for comparison and competition. Those thieves wreaked havoc in our relationship. They stole joy that should have been shared between us. Instead of turning towards each other to embrace and encourage, we turned away to defend and protect.
Over time, our story has come full circle.
My sister and I have talked about these years in detail with a deep sadness for what we allowed to govern our relationship, that in turn wounded our friendship. With her blessing, I share of the wounds that have become redemption scars. These scars are markings of a new story. One of healing and restoration.
Kristin has a brilliant mind.
At a young age, she played independently and devoured book after book. Her brain is wired to think analytically and she pursues excellence in all she does. She observes, watches, deliberates and then intentionally moves forward in action. This methodical approach to living her life has made her into a scholar.
She just recently completed her doctorate and works in public health. She travels the globe problem solving on behalf of the poor and marginalized, using the gifts she has been given to better the lives of those around her. I have not met anyone with her level of tenacity and compassion mixed up in one body. She is fearless and strategic.
As a child I was full of curiosity and wonder.
I was born with a big heart and even bigger emotions. My energy was fueled by people and I wanted to be in the middle of the party. I have a fire in my bones to compete, but want to do it alongside others. I feel most alive when I’m part of a team. I’m resilient and passionate.
I carry a list around in my wallet of all the dreams I hope to accomplish in my life. The list consists of twenty-five things. A few have been accomplished, and I aim to scratch off more in the years ahead.
Place these two personalities side by side and you had oil sitting on top of water.
We didn’t understand each other and the narrative over time became that “different” was a negative term. As sisters, we always shared a room. There was one particular year where we even shared a queen size bed. We spent so much time drawing boundaries and policing the other person that we completely missed any opportunity to connect.
I looked up to my sister. She was gifted in so many ways and all I really wanted was for her to move towards me in relationship. I had a crew of close friends and connected easily with others, but was perplexed that an easy relationship didn’t exist between us as sisters. I tried to bring the gap between us, but was met with a cool demeanor of disinterest.
I was confused as to why my sister didn’t like me. We hadn’t had an argument or a falling out. I concluded that who I was bothered her. And I didn’t know how to change that. Looking back, Kristin would say that jealousy was what kept her from pursuing the friendship we both desired.
The lie of scarcity dictated the script of our lives.
We made a list and decided that only one of us could stake claim to any given attribute. We were both smart, but Kristin was smarter. We both played sports, but I was the more athletic one. You see where this is going. We each laid down gifts that were placed in our hands.
Comparison lied and told us there wasn’t room for both of us. And we believed it. This train of thought caused us to believe we needed to cut ties with parts of us that were meant to grow and thrive, but instead we let those gifts begin to suffocate and die. We chose to become small for the sake of pacifying the other. Come to find out, the cost was high. We felt it in our souls and carried with us the ache of a broken relationship.
The truth of God’s word tells a different story.
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. “ Psalm 16:6
These lines have been designated for us as a gift from the Father’s hand. God is the one who draws the boundary lines around our lives. We don’t draw them for ourselves and others don’t draw them for us. And the truth of His word tells us that the boundary lines fall in good places and that there is an inheritance that is ours for the taking. But, we have to take ownership of what He has graciously gifted to us. It is our decision whether we choose to fully occupy the land that is portioned out in our name.
There is something specific that God has purposed for me to do with my life, and the same is true for you.
One of, if not the greatest struggle we face is over our identity. Are we defined by what others think of us or say that we are? Are we defined by our own limitations and what we think of ourselves? The truth of scripture declares that who I am, and who you are, is determined by of the one we belong to.
“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory…” Romans 8:17
God is our Father and we are His children. Our lives are to bring glory to His name. That begins with fully receiving and occupying the designated place set before us. With boldness we receive our inheritance as a co-heir with Christ. We are not of those that shrink back.
Lies deceive, thwart and destroy what was meant to be beautiful and enjoyed in abundance.
Maybe today some of those lies are coming into focus. Once they are identified and exposed they lose their power. It is not too late! God is the author of redemption and He promises to heal all of our broken places if we let Him.
My sister and I spent 23 years managing our dysfunctional relationship. It reared its head all the way through our college years. But there was freedom waiting for us when the lie was exposed. A better road, one full of life, was set before us.
I remember the moment that the lie fell to the ground.
It was the night before my wedding and it happened at my rehearsal dinner with a room full of onlookers. People had been taking turns toasting Taylor and me on our impending marriage.
My sister stood up, and when she had the floor this is what she said…
“The tape that is playing in my head is one rooted in comparison. I am fighting thoughts of what my rehearsal dinner was like and how more people are standing to honor you than honored me. But you know what? I am done with that conversation. I am ready to start championing you instead of comparing myself to you. You love well and you inspire and I want to be the loudest voice cheering you on. I have kept silent for too long.”
You could have heard a pin drop. The people in that room with us that night were those in our closest circles. Many of them knew the breakdown in relationship that had existed between us for years. The Holy Spirit moved in power that night with a room full of witnesses. In a moment, everything changed.
When we believe the truth, and declare it with our mouths, the atmosphere around us shifts.
That was 14 years ago. Since that time my sister and I have begun to experience the relationship we have always longed to share. I am fiercely loyal and she is my biggest cheerleader. She moved towards me with open arms and together we dove headfirst into the rivers of grace and forgiveness. Only with God can the bitter turn sweet in a moment.
How have you been honored in your relationships? And how have your relationships honored you? Please join the conversation and share your stories!
Connie is motivated by, and built for relationships with others. She loves a good story, whether found in a book or hearing one from a friend over coffee. She holds a BA in Interpersonal Communications from Wheaton College in Illinois and is attending Portland Seminary to receive her Masters degree. For over a decade Connie has been enjoying life along side her best friend and husband, Taylor. Their love multiplied and in a five-year span added four children to their tribe. Margot, Ryken, Hudson and Lucy are the spice of her life. Her family recently moved to the pacific northwest from California, and they enjoy exploring the beautiful landscape that surrounds them. Connie is a writer and a speaker; more of her work can be discovered below.