Loving Sisters That Are Difficult To Love
If social media has done anything for us since its inception, it has introduced us to personal branding, the idea that we have control over our online image. Through a consistent array of photos and statuses, we portray our brand, the curious, playful, thoughtful, or witty sides of ourselves that we want the world to see.
Personal branding also extends to our offline images. From networking events to parties, we can mold our offline selves with as much autonomy as our Facebook or Instagram profiles. And thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, we can not only appear confident or joyful or in tune with others’ needs but be confident and joyful and in tune with others’ needs.
Some of us may wish that certain sisters in our lives would take this to heart. There are women in our small groups, our families, or even our circles of acquaintances that rub us the wrong way whether offline or on, and they could do with a little more management of their incessant whining, their haughty attitude, or their downright selfishness. Maybe it’s just a tweak to the way they talk or a complete transformation of their heart, but you – and, you’re sure, others in your circle – would welcome a change.
This message about personal branding isn’t actually for them. It’s for you.
After all, loving sisters that are difficult to love is a lot less about those sisters and a lot more about us.
In Keep Your Love On, a book about connection, communication, and boundaries, Danny Silk writes, “Not everyone should have the same access to you. You are responsible to manage different of levels of intimacy, responsibility, influence, and trust with people in your life.” Likewise, not everyone should receive the same emotional investment from us. If we find ourselves continually irked by a sister’s comments or actions, it’s possible that we have allowed her into the wrong level of intimacy. The extent to which we let someone bother us reveals a lot about how much influence we have given them over us.
Sometimes a certain amount of influence is inevitable. We often do daily life with women that would never naturally be our best friends. Whether we work with them, share our lives with them through a women’s group, or live with them, we cannot eliminate some sisters from lives altogether.
As you work to give these sisters an appropriate amount of influence over you, you can pray for and work toward loving them better. That’s where the idea of personal branding comes in: as we claim ownership over the fact that, through prayer and surrender, we can be more confident and more joyful and better stewards, we can also become slower to judge and quicker to forgive and humbler in the way we think about and interact with difficult sisters. It’s not as easy as an Instagram filter, but over time it will become as natural as one of the aspects of ourselves we highlight online or promote in a social setting.
While you are still growing into the woman you want to be, one who is more patient or more servant-hearted or more zealous, your sisters are doing the same. Be patient with them – and with yourself. God’s work is slow and steady. It follows seasons, and it’s the reason seeds don’t turn into trees overnight:
God is as much a lover of the process as He is of the result. He is, after all, eternal, and what for us seems like an endless battle with the same temptation provokes no anxiety from the One outside of time.
And remember that the Lord pairs us with the most unlikely of allies as we pursue His kingdom together.
The groups that walk with us in our faith often look less like a team of Marvel superheroes and more like the Fellowship of the Ring – a hodgepodge of races, personalities, and gifts too limited to accomplish a mission alone but capable when working together and led by something greater than themselves.
So it is with us. The sisters that are the most awkward or most different from us can turn out to be the best traveling companions in our pilgrimage here on Earth. As you work out growing pains with that particular sister, pray for her, walk with her, and look for ways to lead her – and let her lead you – closer to Christ.
Carmen Dahlberg graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Honors English and a minor in Crime and Justice. She currently lives with her husband in Detroit as part of Detroit Community Outreach. Favorites include classic literature, writing, deep conversations, the French language, time with friends and everyday discoveries in Detroit.