Walk with me for a minute back to 1977. We are now sixteen years old and you are my new best friend. After school we hop into the high mileage blue Ford Pinto I proudly drive. You remember, the car that explodes when you get rear-ended? (Good thing none of the six accidents I had that year were rear enders.) Driving home, we talk nonstop like the teenage drama queens that we are, animatedly discussing important life issues like boys and clothes and the Friday night dance after the football game at the Elks Club.
We pull up to the little yellow wood frame house my grandfather built, with the blue hydrangeas my mother planted. This is where I grew up. It sits on the wrong side of the tracks, but I didn’t know that then, didn’t really know that there were two sides of the tracks, my hometown being so small.
If this is your first time inside the house that grew up five (yes, five) daughters, let me guide you. First, you must find your way through the fog of hairspray, then maneuver around the random bottles of nail polish, and dust off the makeup residue before you sit down. Make sure you duck when you enter the bathroom to miss the pantyhose hanging to dry, the kind that comes in a white plastic egg.
We shut the door to my bedroom because we have lots more important stuff to talk about. Like how dreamy David Cassidy is. You think Donnie Osmond is way cuter and now I’m beginning to wonder if you can really be my best friend and be so dumb as that. Looking around my messy room, strewn with books and shoes, you wonder why I have a used paper cup from McDonald’s thumbtacked to my bulletin board there among the dried flowers, blue ribbons from 4-H club and countless silly polaroid shots. Maybe I’ll tell you, maybe I won’t. I did write about it though, in my journal that I keep hidden under the mattress you are sitting on.
Eventually, you meet my four sisters. (My husband often compares us to the Big Fat Greek Wedding family. We are not Greek, but we are definitely big and loud.). You see us slam doors, wrestle over who gets the telephone next and fight. I’m talking girl fight, complete with hair pulling and clawing nails. You should probably stand back. It’s a scary thing to behold.
We cry. We laugh. We roll our eyes. We know everything and our parents know nothing. We snack and eat whatever we want because we do not yet understand that direct relationship between the number of fries and the size of our thighs.
This is life with sisters. But there are things you may not yet know about the sisters in the little yellow house, until you hang around a while. So please do. I really want you to. Walk with me through the times of brokenness to come in these decades of life: my sister’s teenage pregnancy, a failed marriage, evil cancers that steal loved ones, miscarriage, and the battle we are quickly losing to my Daddy’s dementia. (I know what you are thinking–raising five daughters gave him dementia. I am sure it is our fault.)
Just as importantly, I want you to walk with me through the blessings of these decades–blessings of second chances, of education, opportunity, and service. Of Godly marriage, children, adoption, grandchildren, baptism and communion. What it means to live in Christian community.
If you do choose to stay, you will begin to sense that there is something strong happening here in the place where women meet—some sort of bond between sisters, between women, a fierce commonality sprung from something not simply familial, or from something hormonal, genetic, or social. It seems to be deeper… higher than any of that—it seems to be something creational.
When I walk this life with you, my sister, I think of Genesis 5:2. “He made them male and female and he blessed them…” I love that God created us female by his perfect design and then he blessed that creation. Help me figure out what it means to be female and blessed in a broken world. Being female is hard stuff. Walk with me.
Walk with me and generations of Christian women as we rejoice and repent collectively. I need my older sisters to lead with wise example and hold me accountable as I seek the face of God and his will for my life. Jerk me back into grace when I fall into legalism and remind me that same grace was costly when I treat it as cheap.
I need my younger sisters to ask me the hard questions of our shared Christian theology and call me to authentically live it. Ask me about creation, covenant, and Christology. We will learn together. Ask me how to roast a chicken, how deep to plant tulips, when to call the pediatrician and how to support your husband. Sit by the fire with me, sip coffee, and cry over love gone bad if you need to. I will cry with you.
You may be my life long friend or the sister who sits on the opposite side of the sanctuary whom I have yet to meet. You may be the sister I admire and watch from afar, intimidated by your success or worried that you might not accept me when all my flaws become apparent. But I do want to know you and connect in that way that is higher, creational, female, and blessed. For, “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:50) In Christ, you are my sister. Walk with me.
If you stick around long enough, maybe I will even share with you the truly deep things—like why that used cup from McDonald’s was special to me, saved and thumbtacked to my bulletin board all those years ago in the little yellow house with the blue hydrangeas. After all, you are my sister and I did ask you to stay.