You Don't Get To Choose Family
This was one of the first pieces I wrote for publication. It was a heap of fun to do, but I felt somewhat out of my comfort zone, as the piece was to be published in a print periodical for teenage girls. Since publication, my family has grown again with another daughter added to the mix.
Alternative Title: Why Sisters Are So Annoying!
I had three sisters and no brothers.
Man, did I hope, wish, pray, make bargains with God—anything to get a brother!
I still have three sisters and no brothers.
My older sister’s sole goal in life, or so it seemed to me, was to tell me what to do. My two younger sisters (three years younger, and four years younger respectively) were tolerable, as long as they weren't too close to me, or making any noise, or touching my stuff, or going in my room, ok, they were annoying as well.
In fact, out of all of us, I’m pretty sure I was the only normal, average kid. How come I got stuck with three annoying sisters? How come I didn’t get an awesome big brother who took me for rides on his motorbike? Or a cool little brother who would climb out onto the rocks to un-snag my fishing line when it got stuck?
How come you don’t get to choose your family?
So here I am now, married, with four kids of my own. Three boys, and one girl.
Ironic isn’t it?
So again, how come you don’t get to choose your family? And if we really are stuck with them, how do we make the best of it? Or maybe, how do move beyond just ‘making the best of it’, to be thankful for annoying sisters? (I’ve also heard a rumour that brothers can be just as annoying, but you may know more about that than I do)
Whenever I have a deep question in life, I’ve learnt that the best place to start is with God; what does He have to say about it? After all, He’s the one who made us this way (including family), so maybe He has something important to say about it.
Way back in the beginning of time when God was making things just the way they should be, you know, before we wrecked it all by thinking we knew better than God. God was looking at Adam (the first guy) and thought, “Yep, I like what I see. Tough. Rugged. Built. A real man’s man. But—he’s missing something” (you can read all about this in the Bible, check out Genesis 1 and 2). God made an important observation, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (have a look at Genesis 2:18).
Adam didn’t even get to choose who he was going to share his life with. God knew who he needed.
You may not realise it, but you were made to live with people—we don’t function right on our own.
Growing up is tough, I remember. And learning about life doesn’t happen in just one amazing moment, although I wish it did. Childhood and your teen years are meant to be enjoyed, but they’re also meant to help prepare us for life as an adult.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret—I didn’t get to choose the people I work with. I didn’t get to choose the people I go to church with. I didn’t even get to choose my neighbours. Some of the people I work with, some of the people who live near me, and yes, even some of the people in my church—are annoying!
Preacher’s aren’t really supposed to say that so don’t tell anyone ok.
But they are—people can be annoying—and most of the time we’re sort of stuck with them.
I’ll tell you who I’m most thankful for in teaching me how to live with people who can be annoying—my sisters.
Family was the place I learnt to live with other people, without wanting to lace their food with chilli (although if you’re ever talking with my little sister, please don’t mention this illustration).
So, here’s the Chris Thomas “Beyond Survival” Strategy
Be patient and tough it out. God’s shaping something in you that you may not be able to see yet, but the end result will be spectacular.
Pray for your annoying sister (or brother). It’s hard to stay angry or frustrated at someone you’re praying for.
Look for common interests. Just because they’re family, doesn’t mean getting along comes easy—usually you’ve got to work at it.
Talk to your Mum or Dad about some regular ‘time out’ for just you. Don’t stay in solitude though, it’s not what you were designed for.
Find an adult friend you trust (other than your Mum and Dad) who you can talk to about this stuff. You need friends who’ll pray for you now—and what you’ll be in the future.
One final word, regardless of what my sister’s say, I was never an annoying brother. Just like you aren’t.