Sibling Love {Book Club}

Sibling Love {Book Club}

My sisters and I were recently reminiscing about movies from our childhood. There were a few particular scenes from a rather cheesy western imprinted on our minds, but for the life of us we couldn’t come up with the title.

After fruitless Google searches with every phrase and description we could think of, we sent an SOS to our family chat group to see if our brothers had anything to offer.

Our youngest brother remembered that some of our old VHS tapes (yes, I realize that seriously dates me) were up in our attic crawl space. So flashlight in hand, my sister and I headed up to pull out totes and dig through remnants of our childhood to solve this movie mystery.

And we did. The satisfaction of my sister who was especially determined to figure out the title made the belly crawling to get to the very back corner worth it

I would do anything for my siblings. Do we fight? Not as much as when we were kids, but you better believe there are still disagreements and words spoken with more force than intended. Do we have the perfect relationship? No, definitely not. But I can’t think of anyone I would rather spend time with than my ever-expanding family. The additions of in-laws and nieces and nephews have just made the mix even more sweet.

I think that’s why I love the idea of teammates as sacred siblings. The people who are willing to go the extra mile for you, to go on crazy adventures in attic crawl spaces just because they care about you. But, that’s also why expectations of what team will look like can be messy and cause hurt and be an ever important discussion, because the ideas of team being like a family can vary greatly.

This week we are talking about Section 3 of Sacred Siblings by Sue Eenigenburg and Suzy Grumelot. Last week we focused on a much larger section, so if you need space to catch up, that’s fine! This section is focused on the answers to the questions where singles agreed more than those who are married, and most of the topics have to do with expectations.

The titles of these chapters stuck with me: Expecting Community and Finding Loneliness, Expecting to Be Considered Mature but Disappointed, Expecting a Helping Hand and Not Always Finding One, and Expecting More Time from Them When There is Less Family.

My heart aches reading those titles, thinking of longing and disappointment and a need to belong. As a single, I understand and even experienced some of those frustrations on the field. I also know it goes both ways. I am sure I could ask any of my married sisters in the Velvet Ashes community if they have unmet expectations in cross-cultural work and I would get a resounding yes.

In chapter fifteen as the authors touched on the concept of ministry and personal time, they wrote, “At times, single teammates might not see the struggles the married women have because they assume the husband is helping.” This was such a good reminder to me: we don’t see the whole picture, and assumptions can get us in so much trouble.

Life on the field takes so much time, so matter what our marital status. My teammate and I shared a house and so also split up the chores, including meal making, market runs, paying bills, and laundry. While we did receive comments that we had an “easy” life because we weren’t completing these tasks for children too, it was also easy to look longingly at families that had a house helper or many hands to help get everything done.

Why do we judge each other? Why do we assume we know what another sister or brother is experiencing, and add on layers of unfair expectations? I feel like this book is making me long for teams that are willing to painfully examine their culture and the culture of their organizations to see what needs to change. What about you?

What struck you from this section? Are there ways you have felt cared for and understood as a single on your team? Are there ways you have felt seen and heard as a married sister on your team? I’d love to hear about it!

We’ll finish reading the book next week!

We have a tradition here in Book Club of reading a book by Fredrik Backman in August, and we’ll be continuing that next month! We will read two short novellas over the course of two weeks each. We’d love for you to join us!

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer: A Novella

The Deal of a Lifetime

Photo by Jo Jo on Unsplash

We are continuing our Facebook Live series this week as we talk about singleness and dating on the field!


  1. Phyllis July 21, 2020

    I’m excited to get back to Backman. 🙂 I have the Deal book. We saw it in a bookstore in the capital this winter, and when I said that I like that author (because of reading his books in book club here), my husband bought it for me.

    And the single-married relationships… Honestly, I’ve found that hard. I’m learning from the conversations here.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann July 22, 2020

      Phyllis, that’s so fun that your husband got the book for you! I think it will be good to read a couple of short novellas. He keeps writing (there’s a new one coming out in September) so our tradition can continue. 🙂
      I’m glad you are learning from the conversations here!

  2. Sue Eenigenburg July 22, 2020

    I want to share a quote that is relevant to expectations and assumptions:

    “Desire and expectations walk hand in hand. While desires speak to what we want, expectations go even further; they speak to what we strongly believe ought to be ours. Expectations are hopeful assumptions, “this is what my world should look like and this is how it should work.” Expectations are desires with a defined shape. I would go so far as to say they feel like rights.” — from ‘Making Peace with Change: Navigating Life’s Messy Transitions with Honesty and Grace’ by Gina Brenna Butz

    1. Sarah Hilkemann July 22, 2020

      Expectations that feel like rights. Yes! I really have to catch myself when I start feeling like I have a right to things being a certain way, or people to be a certain way. It is helpful to look at the expectations and desires that are underneath. Thank you so much for sharing that quote, Sue!

  3. Amanda July 22, 2020

    I agree that the titles of these chapters alone struck a chord with me. So often we make assumptions, and often that leads to more heartache for both parties. Sure, I am married, but there are many times that I have felt lonely or could have used a “sacred sibling” to encourage me or reach out to me. This is a great reminder to be having those conversations.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann July 22, 2020

      Amanda, thank you for sharing those thoughts! I have caught myself thinking that loneliness goes away when one gets married. It can make me not reach out to my married friends; since they have their “person”, I can think they don’t need anyone else. But as amazing as marriage is (I’m assuming, since I’m single 🙂 ), no one person can fill us up. We are created for community, and ultimately to be connected to Jesus. You are right, we need to be having the conversations, being honest and asking questions and listening to each other and what we need.

      1. Phyllis July 23, 2020

        One of my single friends and I talked about this once and came to the conclusion that sometimes loneliness in marriage can be even harder.

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