I know this week is Mother's Day, but I'm thinking about my sisters. So this one's dedicated to all the women who know how much they're loved simply because they're sisters.
Who do you recall being there with you in the most trying times?
"Jesus' mother stood near his cross. His mother's sister was also standing there, with Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." John 19:25 (ICB)
Something special jumped out at me when I read this part of the crucifixion story. Mary the mother of Jesus had a biological sister who stood by her in her greatest and most profound grief. At first glance, it is simply women at the feet of the cross crying over Jesus' death. But the fact that it wasn't just His mother standing there, that Mary was not alone in this her lowest estate, but that she had sisters who would grieve with her. That is what makes it so special to me.
I love that the scripture points out that Mary's biological sister was there, but it also mentions the other women by name. Scripture does not tell us whether or not these ladies had close-knit relationships, and it doesn't really matter because in that one moment of time, they were closer than ever. Death brought them close. Sharing the loss of their child, friend, teacher, savior. That's what made their connection unique.
In fact, there is something so special about sharing in the suffering of another person. I can recall being there with my friend as she literally broke down upon learning of her child's cancer. I remember thinking for a moment, "it is about 11 pm and I am standing here in my friend's bathroom holding her up... this is a powerful and very special moment" It was strange how in the presence of real pain, there was also an overwhelming peace that we were in the right place, found in God's grace. At the feet of the cross. Suffering takes you there.
Celebration can also take you there. Not too long ago, I got together with several ladies and we celebrated friendships. It was kind of funny because of all the ladies in the group, only a couple were actually close friends. For the most part, we are acquaintances and sisters in Christ. And we came together to celebrate the friendships, the sisters, and women in our lives. Those who are with us and those who are no longer with us. That commonality brought us together. It was special. Still even more special is the common ground we find in that we are all sisters because of Christ. In essence, it's like we all stand together at the feet of the cross, as our savior's death brings us together. Just like with Mary and her sisters. And whether or not we spend lots of hours together sharing in each other's mundane, we are still connected by something that outweighs hours of walking closely. It defines who we are as the body of Christ. And that's something we can celebrate.
Then there's my sister, the one who God chose to have me grow up with from the time I was born. That's wild! To have someone else that's not a parent, witness your life simply because you were born into the same family. And mind you, I know some siblings have a tough time caring for one another. It's not always blissful to build on those biological relationships. However, when you've been granted one that is rooted in deep love for one another, you cannot take it lightly. My sister was there for me even before I could walk. She actually bears a scar on her leg because of her tendency to mother me even early on. She would change my cloth diapers. Yes, I said cloth! And so one day she accidentally pierced her leg with the pin that was intended for my diaper. Ouch! I'm not sure how old she was, but being that she's five years older than me, I take it she was pretty young. But that's my sister. She is a caretaker by heart. And I've learned loads of valuable lessons simply by shadowing her life.
I was normally in the background growing up with a girl who was always extroverted. And I observed. And I learned. In fact, if I had to decide on a person to identify as the most influential teacher in my life, it would be my sister. It's funny that we are sort of like night and day, as far as our personalities go. She takes on sensibility, while I'm sensible. She is literal, while I'm more into metaphors. She's factual, while I can enjoy a play on words. She's mature, when I'm acting ridiculously silly. She provides the reality check when I'm acting flighty. And I could go on and on... So what could two very different people find so endearing in knowing each other? What could bring us so close? Is it merely the fact that we are related?
I would say not. In fact, I know that it takes more than blood relations to give the greatest value to a friendship or relationship. For my sister and I, it has been the blood of Christ. The knowledge that there is a God we both love. The comfort in knowing that our lives are forever intertwined due to the sacrifice our savior paid by dying on that cross for us. The joy that we will never be separate nor alone because of His promises. The sufferings we have shared and the joys we've enjoyed have all been defined by the underlying truth of knowing God's love and grace.
So as I think about Mary, her sister, and the others standing before the cross joined by the suffering of His death, I can't help but imagine myself standing before the throne of God along with my sister, and all the other sisters I've made. Joined not only by the suffering of Christ's death but by the glorious eternity we've been promised in Him. Greeting one another, reacquainting with those who've gone before us. Celebrating our common bond. Living in eternal peace. No longer standing at the feet of the cross, but alongside our creator and savior.