‘Send us your sister photos,’ the advertisement read for my church’s sister tea. I have three sisters; one in Arizona and two in Utah. All are half sisters. I didn’t grow up with the two in Utah. The one in Arizona is 11 years younger and circumstances gave us a fragmented relationship. My family relationships were dysfunctional. I felt like the runt being pushed out of the pack. It was only years later that others confirmed I wasn’t imagining it. My birth father had his family unaware of my location. My mom had her family.
The sister tea unintentionally caused discomfort. I couldn’t relate to any of their shared memories. A paranoid part of me wondered if anyone watched my face to record the mingling of joy and sorrow I felt that day or if those who have so diligently prayed for my plight looked on at me in concern.
Yes, I have sisters. I was robbed of growing up with two of them, and robbed of a relationship with another.
Yes, it’s painful. I also have sister’s in Christ. They have filled that void with their prayers, love and encouragement. The girl time I have craved I have enjoyed with them. Without those women in my life this runt would have wallowed longer in unforgiveness, fear, and anger; the emotions that come with learning the truth about your past and about yourself. God gave me new sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, uncles, etc through my Christian church family. Those relationships were only possible because God taught me how to love anew and not in the way that I was taught to love, but the way He says in the Bible to love. It’s a lesson I am learning every day to love as He loves and to see people as He sees people. People will always let me down, disappoint me, and crush my heart. My Heavenly Father will never leave nor disappoint me.
I squirmed that day as I smiled, sipped tea and nibbled on tiny sandwiches. Susie told a beautiful story mixed with personal accounts and humorous anecdotes. My heart wept at what I had never experienced growing up. I drove home focusing on un-burying any forgotten belly laughs and timeless moments of shared sisterhood with my Arizona sister. I came up empty-handed. We both worked and played in fear of making my mom angry. Too consumed in our own thoughts and fears we didn’t allow a relationship to develop. We didn’t trust each other and the age difference didn’t help either. Those handicaps made for a fragmented and dysfunctional relationship with zero communication.
As I sit here typing out my thoughts from the tea I don’t feel the heart crushing grief I felt when they, then I, walked away or the disillusionment. I feel pity and love. God has taught me to love and pray for them every day. I found my two other half-sisters in 2008. The break from my family allowed me the freedom to find them and my dad. We met in person in October, 2008 in St. George, Utah. Among the mists of the cliffs of Zion National Monument, my sister moments began to form as we tried to rebuild what was lost. I met a new sister during the tea, too. A writer friend that I felt an immediate kinship with, and I think that was a God moment. He was saying, “Don’t grieve. You have countless sisters out there in your new family.”