The asphalt road spooled before me, like a black river. Trees wearing fall reds and golds bordered the thoroughfare. I could hear leaves gently rustling in the cool breeze. Rays of sunlight lasered through tree branches, an impossibly blue sky peered down on me. I could hardly comprehend the beauty of orange leaves falling at my feet. I welcomed the slight muscle strain I felt in my calves as I made my way up and down the hills of a country road in Oklahoma. One of my sisters owns a cabin in those woods, and invited my other sister and me to spend a few days on a retreat.
I had stolen away from our talk fest to take a walk, to work out some of my thoughts and feelings that bothered me. I felt intimidated by my two sisters. I felt envious. Both of them were physically beautiful and fit. I'd struggled with my weight since becoming ill last year--hadn't taken off the last ten pounds of the twenty I'd gained during chemo. I continued to feel ambivalent about the decision to let my hair remain silver. I was the youngest of the three. Surely I appeared to be the oldest sister now. They, too, lived such lives of purpose, their faith in God genuine. Tangible. They were organized and productive, their homes beautifully decorated. In comparison, I felt less-than. I struggled with almost everything that seemed to come more easily for them. My thoughts spiraled increasingly toward the negative. A voice in my head gently said, "Don't do this. Don't do this to yourself, or to your sisters. You know they love you unconditionally. No matter how you look or what you have or don't have." I sensed God say, "Look. Look at the sunlight penetrating through the groves of trees. That sunlight is like my light of grace piercing through the toxicity of comparison. Listen to the sunlight."
That evening the three of us sat around a table to share communion together. We reminisced about our oldest sister who had passed away in 2017. It was the first time we'd been together since her death. Her absence was almost like a presence. One of my sisters got out her Bible. "Let's ask God to provide a verse of encouragment for us." I observed my sisters' hands as we shared the bread and wine. Petite hands, their fingernails like jeweled works of art. One sister with french tips, the other a lacquered plum shade. Smooth hands that had held children and grandchildren, hands that had cooked a thousand meals, hands that had comforted others, hands lifted in prayer. As they held the bread, my love overflowed toward them, the ugliness of comparison obliterated by His finished work. We drank the cup and pled His cleansing blood over our lives. The verse surfaced.
And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.~Ecclesiastes 4:12 (The Living Bible)