Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jacob have I loved...

For most of my life I have related to Esau. Beloved by my parents, the firstborn, but all the blessings seemed heaped on my younger sibling. It was the trickiest part of Sunday School for me. I always felt bad for the wrong guy. Jacob was the hero of that story but I never got over thinking that Esau got gypped. I still think it is horribly unfair that Pharoah's heart was hardened instead of allowing him to relent and grant the Jews their freedom. He lost his son to the Angel of Death in the next plague of Egypt. Why? Another topic, another day.

Most of our youthful acquaintance will tell you that I'm the smart one but my sister is more fun, and prettier. And so funny! Strangely enough, no one seemed to realize that we were both insulted by the observation that things worked out so equitably what with me being gifted with intellect and my sister with beauty. And just for the record, she's every bit as smart as me, however smart that might be.

We share many of the same gifts and weaknesses. We're both stubborn to the point of self-harm. We both have a sense of compassion that is great enough to cause us considerable discomfort. We feel sorry for convicted criminals who totally had it coming. Neither one of us would change the outcome but we do feel bad for the jerk who swindled all those people or fled the scene instead of calling an ambulance. We would both hock an organ or a car title to pay for a dog who needed surgery. Maybe not even our own dog.

These days, my sister is going through a rough patch. Long story short, she is reaping consequences far, far beyond what she has ever sown. She does not deserve the $#i% that is raining down on her right now. But she is not taking it lying down, curling up and quitting, giving up. She is tough as nails.

In our casual acquaintance, she probably still seems like Jacob. In her world, she probably feels like Esau. But here's the cool thing about Esau. Jacob and their mother conspired against him to steal his birthright. His mother and his twin. But Esau had the strength and confidence to greet his brother with delight after all the years and all that had passed between them because they were still brothers, first and foremost.

The things I have that my sister wants, I share with her. The things that she has that I want, she shares with me. It is likely that neither one of us will ever have what the other does, but it doesn't matter so much. Because if one of us has it, we both do.

I'm proud of her. I'm proud to share the same blood with someone as amazing as she is. I'm proud when other people admire her and I can say, "That's my sister."

Some days, both of us are Esau. But I think really both of us are Jacob. We both inherited the strength of our forefathers and one sister a piece. We are blessed.


  1. My brother was the athlete with the clean room and organized closets. I was the book worm slob. We both got the 'why can't you be more like' each other but I didn't know it went both ways until we were adults. Would've loved having that knowledge as a kid.

    We don't talk much, but we're still close. Whenever we see each other, we pick up where we left off no matter how much time has gone by. He's still financially rescuing the world and not saving any for himself. I've grown a bit beyond that and only shell out the big bucks to save animals these days. I think I'm shelling out more than he is. Vets are expensive. ;-)

    If he needed anything from me, all he'd have to do is ask. He never asks. Ditto for me.

  2. Laurel, I always felt like you both got the looks and the brains. Who in the world could have thought differently??!! Oh, Jacob and Esau. Jacob is the liar, the deceiver. I think his name means "the supplanter", he even has the cajones to try to bargain with God. I still shake my head at the Biblical "saints", and who is presented as the "hero".

    I've written many a sermon on that very issue.

  3. Jennifer: Little sis is whip-smart. She was one of the first students who took the PSAT in eighth (I think it was eighth) grade as part of the Duke gifted search. Somehow or another word got out when she was in high school that she was brainy despite the great rack and she scored a case of Milwaukee's Best from a fellow student when she agreed to take the ACT again and sit next to him during the testing.

    Ah, the Old Testament. Quite a stumper.

    Sarah: Even without the "why can't you be more like..." speeches it's inevitable that siblings compare themselves with each other. It sounds like you and I had very different childhoods but some of the same feelings. I guess some things are universal, which is great if you think about it. There is a commonality to human experience that transcends background. It makes us able to relate to things we've never been through.

  4. What a wonderful relationship to treasure.

  5. Fabulous post and I love how much your adoration of your sister comes through. It's the one thing I really hope resonates with my kids - their siblings are the people they have, their family, who will be on their side no matter what, hopefully from beginning to end.