Love ’em or hate ’em, it turns out your sisters and brothers have a profound influence on the person you become. Of all the factors that shape your personality – your genes, your parents, your peers – siblings are at the top, according to one major theory of human development. (The Science of Siblings by Francine Russo)
I recently read this article in my local newspaper and immediately began to think about my own siblings as well as my children and their relationships as siblings. Apparently our brothers and sisters shape us long after we have stopped sharing a room with them.
So Chris, my older sister and I shared a room together til I was about 12. Then we would sometimes slip in the other’s room at night cause we missed each other. My brothers, David and Dan, came after Chris and I were already part of the Davis household. So 4 siblings, 2 girls first and then the 2 boys, all born within 9 years. The oldest fought the battles for the rest of us, and the youngest pretty much got to do whatever he wanted, especially being home by himself for 4 years when David left for college. So the first pushed the boundaries set by the parents, and the last found he didn’t have too many boundaries! The 3 oldest went to the same college, the last did not, and made his way around the country instead, more the risk taker, out of the box, didn’t need to follow the rest.
It is just in the past few years that I have even begun to think about taking risks, living out of the box, not doing what everyone else does. Feel like I have done that my whole life, except for having 5 kids – not everyone else does that! So what does that look like for me at 55? Part of beginning to dream is to declare that I want whatever adventure is out there for me and being open to an awareness that life can be different, with uncertainty of details and yet certain that God will show me. I do love this life God has given me and yet I want more of an expectancy and a freedom to engage life and people, outside of what I have grown comfortable with.
Back to siblings….as the second born I have tried to please and fit in and do the right thing. I want to be approved of by family and friends, I want to avoid conflict and be a peacemaker. But what I am learning is that I can engage in conflict and it will be okay. I can speak what is on my heart, I can be misunderstood, and I can take the risk that I probably will be hurt but that too will help me in those relationships. Since I know Christ has approved of me and will never disapprove of me again, I can do things I never did before because I was afraid of what others thought. I can love others because I am completely loved by God. So with my siblings, my friends, my parents, my husband and my kids, I want to be honest, really honest and vulnerable before them. Because of Christ, I can be weak, I can be last, I can fail; because He has won, he is strong and he has succeeded for me, and for all who put their trust in Him.
So for my 2 brothers, David and Dan and my sister, Chris, I am so grateful for how their lives have shaped mine and I look forward to how we will continually shape one another in the years to come and trust the conversations will be richer and deeper. They are some of my richest gifts that God has bestowed and I will always be grateful for their love.