Sisters, Let's Become Cheerleaders
The other night my sister and husband and I watched Unbroken together. If you've read the book or seen the film, you know it's the true story of a man named Louie Zamperini who was an Olympic runner and World War II veteran.
At one point as we watched this incredible story unfold, I sat up on the couch, energized, and said to Justin and my sister, "Why can't every story be uplifting like this? Why can't good always triumph over evil?" The critics hail Unbroken as a human triumph story, and so it is. But deeper still, it's a story where God's grace prevails.
Everything an Older Brother Could Be
As the story begins, Louie's older brother, Pete, is everything an older brother could possibly be—a leader, a mentor, a friend, and, maybe in Louie's life most importantly of all, a cheerleader. The older brother notices his younger brother's speed and ability, and not only does he train and teach him, but he encourages him.
There's a particularly powerful moment that takes place in the early chapters of Zamperini's life and the opening scenes of the film, where a young Louie is racing around the track, the underdog, and his brother, Pete, stands at the sidelines cheering him on.
I'm one of those annoying people who struggles to keep my mouth shut during movies, and this scene was yet another moment where I couldn't keep my thoughts to myself. "The relationship of two brothers—this is what it's supposed to be! Cheering each other on!"
Like all good stories, long after the last page is turned or the credits roll, the ideas and themes linger. As I've thought about the brothers in this story, my thoughts have turned to the many sisters in my life, and I've found myself asking this question: Am I cheering them on? Am I speaking words of affirmation and encouragement? Am I their cheerleader?
Encourage, Affirm, Cheer
What about you? If the women in your life were to describe the effect and power of your words, what would they say? Do you encourage them? Do you affirm them? Do you speak words that cheer them on?
While this theme applies to both men and women in every sphere of life, I think there's particular application here for young mothers. I recently sat with a dear friend of mine who's a new mom, and she shared how she often feels the weight of discouragement when other young parents ask loaded questions, or subtly judge her decisions, or feel the need to share all the reasons why they started solids earlier, or sleep-trained later, or didn't sleep train at all, or wore their baby, or didn't wear their baby, or let their baby play on dirty floors, or didn't let their baby play on dirty floors, or made homemade organic puree, or bottle fed, or breast fed, or . . . In the early years of parenting, the list of significant but secondary parenting decisions goes on and on.
As I listened to my friend share her discouragement, I mentally reviewed my own conversations with her and found myself asking this question: What kind of a sister have I been to her? Have I felt the need to share my preferences and opinions? Have I quietly judged or subtly condemned? Or have I shared words of encouragement? Have I told her that she's an amazing mom? Have I shared with her all the ways I've watched her love and nurture her baby? Have I spoken words of encouragement in those moments when she's tired, sleep-deprived, and low?
Have I been her cheerleader?
We go through this life with many sisters at our side. And in every conversation, we're handed this opportunity to speak words that build up or to speak words that subtly tear down.
I want to be like the older brother in the story; I want to stand at the sidelines watching my sisters run their race, and I want to loudly and joyfully cheer them on.
By Elisha Galotti
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