I have five siblings (4 sisters and 1 little brother), and we all grew up in a small confined space. I love my sisters and little brother deeply, but there were times when we did not quite love each other that well – those of you with siblings might understand exactly what I am saying. We were always on top of each other, fighting with one another, and always in one another’s business. There was no sense of privacy because we got to spend, what felt like, too much time together and we did not have our own personal designated space. Even at school we couldn’t escape each other’s presence. Although there were half a dozen of us, our lives felt somewhat like the movie “Cheaper by the dozen.”
After graduating middle school, I received a scholarship for boarding school, and I can unashamedly admit that my siblings and I were elated. They had one less annoyance to deal with, and I felt like I was free of them for the first time. “Yes, I get to have my own room and not see your faces every day,” I told them. I know this may sound harsh to some of you, but that was the mind of an introverted teenage boy. Needless to say, boarding school was a challenge because I never understood how much of my academic success in middle school was attributed to the rivalry between me and my siblings. In our home, it was always about: who was going to get their homework done the fastest so we could have access to the TV first. I know this may not mean much to our young people nowadays, but we only had one TV in our house growing up (old school TV with antennas) with no Wi-Fi, no phones, and no tablets. Trust me, it wasn’t the apocalypse. Our rivalry was about: who was going to get the best grade? Who was going to be the first one not to get in trouble with mom and dad by the end of the week? Who was going to be the first one to snitch when mom and dad got home from work? Who was better at this, who was better at that? We spent a lot of time feuding and pushing each other, and I believe all the rivalry strengthened our bond as we learned how to take care and look out for each other.
Being at boarding school, it did not take long for me to realize that I somewhat missed the dynamics and structure of my family. I didn’t have a cell phone until I got to college (how can a teenager make it through high school without something as essential as a cellphone, I know right); so, it was not easy talking to them. We didn’t have FaceTime (Wait! What? No facetime), we didn’t have text (Hold up, wait a minute), we didn’t have social media (So, what exactly we do with our time?). Trust me, life was different for a teenager back then where I grew up. Therefore, my siblings and I we actually missed each other. When I got to go home every other week-end, or they got to come see me on campus, we actually looked forward to those moments and enjoyed being together for once. We had limited time together, so we cherished every moment we got to spend together. What am I saying? I am grateful for technology, especially during this pandemic, but nothing will ever replace a human touch, a hug, sharing a meal with someone, exchanging a laugh while playing together.
Life was meant to be lived together, and I know we are limited as to how we can be together physically; however, I hope and pray we are all longing to be in each other’s presence again. Having been away from my Church family, my community, friends, colleagues and extended family members for so long has afforded me enough time to reflect on the importance of all these people in my life. There is a reason why the bible has so many verses that talk about the importance of being together. Many of us know these verses as the “One Another” passages, such as: love another (1 John 4: 7), live in harmony with one another (Romans 12: 16), build up one another (Romans 14: 19), accept one another (Romans 15: 7), care for one another (1 Cor 12: 25), comfort one another (1 Thess. 4: 18), pray for one another (James 5: 16). There are many other “One Another” passages that I could mention, but I hope these few deepen the desire within you to be together again physically.
I want to leave you with one more verse that I believe sum up the essence of this article: 3 John 1: 13 – 15, “I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink. For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face. Peace be with you. Your friends here send you their greetings. Please give my personal greetings to each of our friends there” (NLT).
Grace, Peace, and Love