I grew up with 3 older sisters, who are now some of my closest friends. But it wasn’t always like that. Growing up as the youngest, I was excluded from a lot of things; pushed into a closet a time or two, and shushed more times than I can count, but it comes with the territory. I often take it for granted until I talk to someone who didn’t have the privilege of growing up with sisters. Though I see it as an advantage, I sometimes forget that my girls in Faith Home have a similar story of sisterhood.
Sidenote: My girls are anything but little girls. I use the term girls in a similar way as when referring affectionately to my adult female friends.
For many of my “girls”, their sisters are the girls they have grown up with at SCH. A few of them have been with SCH since Day 1--literally, and have shared fights, meltdowns, grief, heartbreak, and disappointments with one another. They’ve seen people-staff and volunteers- as well as children (through reunification, adoption and unfortunately through death) come and go. They truly are ride-or-die, homies for life and friends til the end, even though at times they don’t always act like it.
There are many times where I have to defend one to the other, step in and stop one or more of them from berating another one or bossing one another around, etc. If you have daughters, grew up with sisters or around sisters, you know exactly what I’m talking about. However, there’s a very real element that makes their sisterhood a little different- trauma. Sometimes they react to one another from a place of hurt and trauma and that’s where the difficulty comes in. Each one of them may have experienced very similar things that has bonded them together, but each of them has taken it in and responded in very different ways. I don’t take this lightly and step in when I feel the need. But recently I’ve seen their sisterhood in a new light that has caused me to realize some of their conflicts are the result of living together and relating to one another as sisters. And perhaps their trauma has caused them to be even closer.
A recent trip to Hyderabad helped me to see their sisterhood in a new light. I was able to take three of my girls, Alesa, Christina, and Hannah with me to participate in events related to the Vocational Program. That included a trip to an Organic Farm and sharing about the jewelry they make in their vocational classes. The girls stayed at Joy Home, where one of their “sisters,” Honor lives. They were raised with Honor, so to speak, until about a year ago. Their special bond hit me when I saw the way Honor embraced Alesa. Alesa moved to Ongole in March. Before moving to Ongole she lived in Jubilee home which is walking distance from Joy Home. Honor has been in Joy home for about a year. The way they hugged was the same way, maybe more so, that my sisters hug me after months of not seeing one another. Alesa, has been having a hard time in Ongole, for multiple reasons but, when Honor hugged Alesa she said a lot though no words were immediately spoke. It felt as if she was saying, “I’ve missed you, Everything’s ok.” It was as if Honor’s hug reminded Alesa that when they’re with each other they’re at home.
I was especially nervous about taking Alesa back to Ongole at the end of the trip because I didn’t know if she’d lose it and say she wanted to stay in Hyderabad-something she’s been saying since moving to Ongole. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case when it was time to go. She’d enjoyed her time with her Hyderabad sisters, and her former caregiver whom she affectionately calls mother, and she was ready to return to her new home. I think their time together was healing to her in some way. Just like when I hang out with my sisters, I think Alesa felt at home with so many of her sisters together.
I think having them together gave her more confidence that everything will be alright and that their bond didn’t dissolve just because they don’t live close to each other.
I’m beginning to see their sisterhood as a part of God’s expression of his steadfast love. The transitions of staff and girls in the last couple months have been hard for my girls, and I constantly pray that they would experience God’s love as a constant in their lives. I’ve recently recognized that as they’ve been constants to one another, God has been in the middle of it. I’m seeing [some] of their fights as typical to living with sisters. I’m enjoying their jokes and laughter amongst one other. I’m grateful that they can laugh and have fun even if its at my expense. They may not have a typical family, but they have family.
They have a sisterhood. A place where they can fight, but still know they are there for one another. A place where they can be free to be themselves and not be rejected. A place where they can be at home.