A Family Tie

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“A Family Tie,” New Era, Feb. 1998, 11

A Family Tie

Learning to tie her shoelaces was difficult for Chantel. But teaching to love came easily for her.

While my mom was expecting my sister Chantel, the whole family tried to guess if she was having a boy or a girl. I was sure it was a boy, since we already had seven girls. We only had three boys, and all of them were older than me. I hoped I was right because it would have been so nice to have a brother who wasn’t big enough to tease me. But when Chantel came to our family, I knew that no one could top this special new girl.

Chantel has Down’s syndrome, which makes it hard for her to learn things quickly. She had to learn sign language because her hearing wasn’t very good. We learned the basics with her and tried to help when we could. We have discovered that Chantel is a peacemaker. When everyone else is fighting or yelling at each other, Chantel is not involved. She is always the one to help us remember that we should be helping, not hurting, each other.

As she grew older, Chan and I became pals. One day I was trying to teach her how to tie her shoelaces. I would show her how to do it and then untie them to let her try. After a while, we both got discouraged. It was hard for Chantel because she couldn’t understand why I didn’t just tie them so she could go play. I lost my patience and began coaxing her with harsh words that were loud and mean. Shocked at my yelling she looked at me with fright in her eyes, and a small tear melted down her cheek. Then she sniffled and pleaded with a soft choked-up voice, “I love you.”

The tables had turned, and now my little sister was teaching me. What I learned that day was something much more important than how to tie a shoe. Even though I was angry and mean, she still loved me. I had tried to teach Chantel something that wasn’t all that important. But in her, I found a Christlike example to follow, an example of forgiveness and kindness.

I can’t think of a more important lesson to learn.

Illustrated by Brent Christison