One of my dearest friends and her husband have recently bought a VERY old and run-down house. The kind of house that needs to be stripped to its frame and built again. (Lord bless them! Better them than me!)
As part of the rebuilding process, they had to examine the structural components carefully, and determine if the beams and joists were in good enough shape to remain. Their contractor found a few beams and joists which didn't quite make the grade. They were rotten, or warped, or sagging. Surprisingly, the contractor didn't think this was terribly bad news. Which seemed a bit strange - after all, these beams and joists are major weight bearing, structurally integral parts of the house. If they are bad, surely the whole house is doomed?
Not so much.
Apparently, it's quite common to use a building technique that helps to strengthen and support the weakened beams, making them strong and firm again. And guess what it's called? (This is the good part!!!! The really exciting part!!!! The 'I-need-to-use-a-million-exclamation-points' part!!!!!) Come on! Guess! I'm super excited, so guess what this technique might be called!!!
Isn't that awesome?
(In case you don't believe me, here's a link to a building website with an article on sistering.)
Here's the technical definition: Sistering is the process of adding additional material to the sides of existing floor joists to help strengthen and straighten them. So, when a board is too weak to make it on its own, and it can't support the weight anymore, you can apply a strong beam, attach it right along side, and it will regain the strength it needs. When a board isn't straight any more, it's gone just a bit bent and off course, you can apply a straight beam beside it and it will go back to the right form. And they call that SISTERING. The contractor actually said, "We can sister it."
|Sister beams alongside of old beams.|
When my pastor told this story on Sunday my heart leapt up within my chest. YES! This is the great cry of my heart! That we would "sister" each other - being sisters for real. Coming along side when we are too weak to bear the weight of life and sister each other. Being strength for those who aren't strong. Being life where there was only ruin. Guiding each other back to the straight path. Sistering each other.
Notice that it isn't called 'brothering." Just saying. =)
And I am reminded again that the ONLY way we can have the strength to be there for each other, the only way we can overcome our own pettiness, and jealousies, and competitiveness, and bickering, and gossiping and judgmental natures, the only way we can truly be sisters-for-real, is when we come to the cross, and lay our lives down before Jesus, and allow His love to transform our lives and relationships. Because when we try this on our own, when we attempt to love each other and sister each other out of our own strength... we give up when there is conflict, we quit when there is pain, we take offense when we are slighted, we judge when we are mistreated, we fail when we are depended on.
In HIM we live, and breathe, and have our being. In HIM we can love, and sister, and be who we are called to be to each other. In HIM we can focus on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent or praiseworthy in each other. Being sisters, truly sisters, is one of our commandments. That we would LOVE one another as He loved us. Laying down our lives for each other.
Sisters for real.
I am thinking of the times in my life that a friend revealed that they were warped, or bent, or sagging in their life. Sometimes I responded with the grace to come alongside and sister them. And sometimes, their particular weakness was a source of pain or distress to me. Perhaps their particular weakness was pride, and it manifested itself by making me feel inferior. Perhaps their particular weakness was selfishness, and it meant that my needs were never considered in the relationship. When my sister's weakness causes ME pain, am I still willing to be a sister for real? Am I still willing to come alongside and be strength where they are weak? Sometimes. Sometimes I cut my losses and go and nurse my wounds. It's so much easier to sister someone whose weaknesses don't cause me personal affliction.
But even the world can love those who love them. We're called to love even those who hurt us, especially those who hurt us. We are called to sister even the unsisterable. (Yes, I just made that word up, but I think it's a pretty good one. You know what I mean.)
If we gain our strength from God, we will have the ability to be sisters to any kind of weakness. That's what I desire. And where I want to see my relationships moving towards.
Who in your life might need you to SISTER them today? Is there an area in your own life that you need some SISTERING? Let's make our own weaknesses apparent so we can sister each other.
Now, go out there and SISTER IT.