“Hannah, will you color with me?” my nine-year-old sister Lydia posed the question and I hesitated to reply. Part of me wanted to agree, knowing that I had not spent much one-on-one time with her recently but the other part of me was pondering a mental to-do list.
After coming back from Israel at the end of July, I had resolved to try to delegate some of my responsibilities to willing volunteers and have more free time to focus on my family and projects that I simply wanted to accomplish, not had to accomplish. But I had to get prepared and organized to be able to do that! There were emails to respond to, a few blog posts to complete, some pages on the dog website that needed updating, pictures from Israel that needed to be organized and uploaded, not to mention all the design/layout working with Shining Stars Magazine and the Hebrew language lessons to prepare. It was nearly suppertime and I had been busy all day long … if I was going to stop “working” for a little bit, the most relaxing thing I would want to do was to read a book.
All of this rushed through my mind in a few seconds but as much as I felt the need to accomplish these tasks, I knew that the better decision would be to stop and spend time with my baby sister. So without allowing myself to analyze any further, I sat down at her coloring book and was handed a green pencil.
Green – my favorite color.
I began shading in the tree and talking with Lydia, or rather … listening to her talk. She showed me the picture that she and Abigail had colored and apologized that our picture didn’t have quite as many nice things as that one. Then she talked about the one that she and Sharon had colored and showed me where Sharon had signed her name in Hebrew. As she prattled on, I made an effort to be an interested listener but I couldn’t quite get the to-do list out of my mind. Then she said it:
“Thank you for coloring with me. I like spending time with you!”
Have you heard the phrase “like a brick between the eyes”? That is what it felt like. I like spending time with her too … why is it such a challenge to find the time for it?
This is my baby sister – the one who treated me like a second mother. The one who was a toddler as we moved five times within approximately a year, including to Israel and back to the States. I will forever remember how she would relax when she felt overwhelmed by all the activity or unfamiliar faces. She would place her lambskin on my shoulder, stick her chubby index finger into her mouth and rest her head on me!
As my coloring pencil moved across the page, I pondered how I could let so many other things prevent me from spending time with my little sister and make her feel that she was not as important as “everything I have to get done”. How many times had she, or one of the other children, asked me to color, or to play a game, or to go for a walk, or ride bikes, and my response had been, “I’m really sorry but I need to work on … fill-in-the-blank. Maybe later …”
One of these days, YHWH willing, I am going to leave this home to go into my husband’s home and have my own family. I know beyond any shadow of doubt that I am going to regret not investing more time into my siblings. I can begin to remedy that by changing habits now but I know that I will be sorry that I neglected to spend more time with them.
Dear sisters, let me encourage you to spend time with your siblings. They look up to you – or at least, they want to. If your actions have caused a breakdown in the relationship to the point that they do not respect you, this is the time to rebuild and restore what was lost. Little people look up to big people and they want to be noticed by them. It makes them feel special. Whatever their outward actions may look like, I assure you that deep down inside, they want to be your friend … they want to spend time with you … they want you to like them. You have the ability to influence their lives for better or for worse – please don’t waste this precious time that has been given to you.
I feel like I am forever saying “maybe later …” to my siblings. My hope and prayer is to change that and when they ask me to spend time with them, to stop saying “maybe later …” and start saying “right now!” I encourage you to do the same.
“Hey Lydia, do you want to color?” 🙂