We have 4 amazing bloggers who have joined us in our Biblical Siblings Series on cultivating sibling love: http://inspiredbyfamilymag.com/2019/02/01/cultivating-sibling-kindness/, Pages and Puddles on Cultivating Sibling Forgiveness, Lessons from Home on , and One Determined Life on 5 Ways to Build Trust with Our Siblings, Stop by each blog and gain insight and ideas on the various biblical siblings in the Bible to share with your family.
Cultivating sibling love
Today will be taking a walk down a somewhat messy, often confusing- yet immensely relatable path; if you’re like me & haven’t got this whole sibling thing figured out, then I invite you to jump in this figurative car and lets go for a juicy ride!
Our story begins in the book of Genesis (OT) with two sisters by the names, Leah and Rachel. If you aren’t familiar with the story, let me refresh your memory.
Jacob is one of the sons of Isaac. Yes, the one who betrayed his father & brother to steal his brother’s blessing (that’s a blog for another day) and some other crazy story about stew and a birthright. “Draaaama”! Jacob was sent out to Paddan-aram in search of A WIFE. Upon arriving he came across the lovely Rachel, which the Bible describes as “beautiful in form and appearance”. Big shocker that when Jacob meets Labon (Jacob’s mother’s brother) he is quick to pursue our lovely maiden- Rachel.
Gen. 29:18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said
"I will serve you seven years for your daughter Rachel"
The story continues with Jacob serving seven years and apparently they seemed but a few days because of his love for Rachel. Get ready for another plot twist! In the evening Labon switched Rachel for her sister– next thing we know…
Gen. 29: 25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said
to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you
for Rachel?Why then have you deceived me?”
Imagine waking up the day after your wedding only to find out you didn’t really “marry” the person that you spend years thinking you’d marry, let alone waking up beside them. BEHOLD, it was Leah. Leah if you haven’t already guessed, is the older sister to Rachel. The Bible chooses to describe Leah as weak in the eyes, which translates to “tender/soft”. This is where the story really heats up. Jacob still chooses to serve another seven years for the hand of Rachel and when he finally does the Bible yet again reminds us that Jacob loves Rachel more than Leah.
Time progresses and the Lord sees that poor Leah is hated. So He opens her womb and she begins having sons and naming them after her sorrows* — in the hopes that Jacob would finally be “attached to her”. Rachel literally envied her sister. So much so that in her desperation she gave Jacob her servant Bilhah to take and bare children in her place. Years pass and then it happened. God remembered Rachel and opened her womb. Ironically, this became Jacob’s favorite child.
Let’s pause there.
One thing we know about the Bible is that things that are often repeated indicate emphasis, makes sense. So here we have these sisters. Different time period. Different issues. Same internal conflict! Envy. Comparison. Constant battle to be loved and seen. Sounding familiar?
For the first five years of my life it was my parents, my older sister and I. Easy. My sister was my mom’s favorite and I was daddy’s girl. On October 17th everything as we knew it changed. Suddenly the love of our parents was now split between three and middle child syndrome kicked in REAL QUICK. Years went on and the number of children continued to increase. Total? There’s technically 12 of us (long story) but I was raised primarily with two sisters. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like Leah. Weak in the eyes. Glanced over. Invisible. My older sister has always been the brains. She used to have these lusciously long, almost pin straight golden locks. Beautiful. Still is! Girls wanted to befriend her. Boys wished they could date her. All the teachers, including the Principal, adorned her. She was both my friend and sometimes she was whom I envied most. I wanted to be just like her. I wanted my own “Jacob” to love me the way she seemed to be loved and respected. Then you have my younger sister. Cute as a button. She couldn’t do any wrong… even though she was basically the spawn of satan our first years of life (we’re fine now I promise). She was the one who got to keep my Princess Jasmine movie and bracelet, because her name Jasmine. She was the one who got to keep my Christmas present (Pikachu) because she was a baby and me taking it back meant she would scream and cry. She was the one I fought with most. Janett was the one I envied. Jasmine was the one who I didn’t know how to love yet.
Different time period.
Same internal conflict.
I wish I could tell you that later in the book of Genesis -Leah and Rachel came to their own revelation about their identities and how they didn’t have to compete. Maybe they did? However, for today, is serves as a powerful reminder on the damage of sibling rivalry. It’s an eye opener and challenge to look outside ourselves and see the inner Leah and Rachel within each of us. To move past the pain and to learn to walk in love.
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought
like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up
I can’t tell you at what age my sisters and I started to heal. I don’t remember the day we grew up and loved sincerely but I do know two things: it didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t easy.
Be slow to speak.
1. There is some internal conflict that you don’t have to tell your sibling about. Just because you feel a certain way towards or against them doesn’t mean you have to necessarily project that onto your sibling , they may not be aware that you feel “jealous” or “bitter” towards them– but if you vent to them it may also create a cycle of hurt. So what should we do? Process and pray it out. Why am I feeling this way? What am I trying to gain by telling them?
Depending on your response to those honest questions, will determine whether this is just internal conflict that you have to resolve personally or if there’s a conversation to actually be had. In this case, I believe Rachel and Leah had issues that went beyond themselves and would have needed some talking, possibly counseling.
Let go of the past
2. I know. Easier said than done. I get it. I really do. I believe though that people are capable of change. Including our siblings. Isn’t it crazy that we can often be so quick to show grace to our friends or strangers but when it comes to family we forget that they need that same grace all the more? Sure, it’s easier and more natural to hold a grudge against your sister for something that happened ten years ago but– is it worth it? Was it actually their fault? Was it Rachel’s fault that Jacob loved her first? Was it Leah’s fault that she conceived first and continued to have her ascendents increase? When we take a step outside ourselves we stop seeing just one version of the story we have been living.
Celebrate her wins
3. Whether she is your sister by blood or sister in Christ, learning to celebrate her wins, actually helps make you a better person. When you can truly be happy for someone else’s success or small victories, your whole world opens up. Celebrating her wins teaches us how to not gloat when she also faces loss. It helps us shatter the distorted images of perfection and comparison. People become people.
You are not made in HER image, you’re made in HIS
4. Fearfully and wonderfully made, you are. She is. He is. Every single one of us. Each of us bare the image of GOD. That tells me that there is room for each of us to birth greatness and that’s okay if it doesn’t all look the same. We need the Leah’s and the Rachel’s, together many nations were birthed. Together. Your sibling isn’t competition. Her promotion doesn’t mean your lack. His influence doesn’t equate to your lack of vision. So today, look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself.
There’s room for both of us to be great.
Because we all serve a purpose.
We all have meaning.
My gifts and passions don’t negate yours and vice versa.
There is a beautiful bond amongst siblings; it is perhaps the longest relationship you may statistically experience. So choose wisely today. Will I learn to love or let bitterness rule my heart. Will I speak up or deal internally. To my inner Rachel. For my inner Leah. You’re not alone.
The year is 2019, I no longer look at my older sister and see this perfect human. I see my best friend. Someone who is lovely and yet still allowed to make mistakes. I don’t hold her on a pedestal nor do I envy her. I no longer look at my younger sister and find contempt in my heart. She is my best friend and I celebrate her victories. I tell them everything. The good. The bad. The ugly. I trust and known confidently that when I win, they win and when I cry, their hearts break with me. It wasn’t easy and it took time. This is the joy in the journey.