August 1st. Today, is my middle sister's birthday. The love between us has existed since God first put her on this earth. But, I will admit that it took years for me to fully appreciate who she is. There was a time when I focussed on our differences even though she would tell me that we had more similarities than I chose to see. There was truth to what she was saying. And yet it's those personality traits that I view as opposite of me that I've come to admire and cherish the most.
Photo by Ronmar Lacamiento
Stephanie is like a beautiful mystery. A cool labyrinth. That secret ingredient in a recipe that makes all the difference. Unlike me, she doesn't show you all her cards. She doesn't wear her heart on her sleeves. She doesn't collect friends like a cat obsessed person would pick up cats. She's cautious, extremely private, needs to truly feel safe and must really like you for her to share anything personal. I like who I am and I really like who she is.
Photo by Ylanite Koppens
As I went on a journey of appreciating my sister more I noticed how misunderstood she can be. To this day it still pains me that people who know us both will often compare her to me and treat her differently (with less preference). I get that we can connect with certain people more than with others, but it's never good when it's obvious to the person that's least favoured. And as her sister it hurts me. I have seen how individuals will make more of effort to be in touch with me, be more drawn to my personality because I'm more outgoing, give me better gifts than her (even though gifts is her love language both to give and to receive). I have been on the receiving end of, "you visit us" even though I have tried to emphasis how as a single person it's easier for me and I've attempted many times to remind others that I enjoy driving whereas my sister doesn't. I have heard the ways she has made efforts and it has not been appreciated. And it has broken my heart every single time. It must be hard to be compared to one's sister, but that doesn't stop her from loving me.
Here are just a few of the qualities that make my middle sister amazing!
I have learned to be generous because of Stephanie. But the thing about my sister that is so admirable is that she gives anonymously. She gives with pure intentions, taking Scripture seriously about not letting her left hand know what her right hand is doing when you give to those in need (Matthew 6:3). I can't tell you how many times she has come to my rescue or chosen to just bless my socks off with something fun. When I have had debt she has given to me financially without me ever asking her. During the pandemic she ordered groceries for me. Once in a while she'll put money in my bank account so I can treat myself to Swiss Chalet or whatever I feel like eating for dinner.
She's taught me to be more thoughtful. For example, on her birthday in order not to have our parents and me spend money on gas she's making the two hour trip with her husband, kids and a new baby to visit us. For her wedding, she didn't want her bridesmaids to spend a lot so she told us all to wear whatever black dresses we wanted. She had my mom make a home cooked dinner for her bachelorette party, again, because she wanted to be mindful of the girls' finances.
Not only is she generous, but she's an excellent steward of the finances that God has entrusted her with. I've often told her that she should teach a course on this. This is not my strong suit. Thanks to her I have a savings account. She's helped me with my budget more times than I can count. Once in a while she and her husband will give the boys money and she always tells them, "First you give to God. Then you choose someone to bless and lastly you save what's left." It moves me every time.
She's the most loyal person I know. If you have the honour of being loved by her she will be in your corner every time. Last year I went through a painful experience and she was the first person I told. Right away she encouraged me to stay with her at her house, which I did for a couple of days. There, she expressed to me how she had spent the day crying on my behalf when she heard the news. She was also angry for me at the parts that she felt were unjust. And because of her business mindset she was able to tell me how I needed to speak up on some issues and laid out the points for me in a logical manner. She is the first to fight for me (metaphorically of course). And I hope to be more like that (i.e. being willing to stand up for people I care about).
Photo by Pixabay
There's so much more I could say. Stephanie is a rare gem that I don't think the world is worthy of, but thankfully she doesn't live for the approval of others. She doesn't even have social media! Her faith in God is the most steadfast faith that I get the privilege to witness. It's another way that she's an incredible example to me of what a woman who fears the Lord should look like. I celebrate and honour my kind hearted, humorous, and giving sister today and forevermore.